Thursday, February 25, 2010

Film #14: The Gate (1987)

A giant hole in Glen’s backyard has blown open and started erupting chunky demons and liquid black plumes of pure evil.
No, I’m not describing his morning bathroom visit after a night of Taco Bell, whiskey shots and ill-advised 4 a.m. ice cream.
This demon hole out-back of Glen’s house in 80s movie “The Gate” was caused not by partying but by that scourge of the 1980s parent…curiosity and heavy metal music!
(“Damn kids and their devil music! Opening up portals and summoning demons and what-not and… ahhhhh, hell, I’m taking a nap. ZZZZ.zzz.Zzzzz.)

Glen is just your typical foul-mouthed 80s era 10-year-old. He loves NASA, model rockets, and pissing off his older sister Al’s teenage friends. He even has a rockin’ tree house in his backyard (Lucky!), but one day a storm rolls through and just crushes the hell out of it (Ha-ha!).
After half-price Mexicans remove the singed tree stump on the cheap, Glen and best bud Terry discover that below the former tree lies a mysterious hole. And what else do you do with a dark hole? You explore it, and explore it deep!

The friends find radically rare rocks in the hole, but after busting one open strange happenings begin to occur. It doesn’t help when Terry begins reciting lyrics from his heavy metal albums, one of which just so happens to be based on an ancient book of evil that if read aloud can summon dark overlords to overtake the earth (isn’t that the basis for Scientology?)

Soon evil spirits and crazy stop-motion beasts are pouring out of that backyard crevasse. It’s not a hole at all, but a gateway to the hideous, power-hungry underworld! With Al and Glen’s parents out of town, it is up to the kiddies to save mankind from hell-level destruction in the 1987 kid-thriller “The Gate.”

RDHP Ratings and Reviews

C-Rating: 2.9 out of 5.0
Chris Dimick summons:
“Satan Bless the 80s. What a magical decade for horror, and to be a child. Watching The Gate is like stepping into a Hyper-color time-machine. From the second we pressed play, I felt like I was 8-years-old again – as I was in 1987 – playing hackie sack with my brothers and getting four-inch cuts from my slap-bracelets. If anything, Gen Xers, watch this one not for the scares, but for the serenity of time gone by.
But you gotta love 1980s horror movies for more than just the nostalgia. They were just so innovative, imaginative, and willing to break a few eggs to make that dead fetus omelet.

Horror movies today are just so PC, especially “scary” movies made with a younger audience in mind. The Gate was essentially made for ‘tweens, kids really, yet the content at times is radically hardcore by today's kid-flick standards. One example: Glenn actually watches his father’s face melt off into a puddle as old Dad tries to strangle him to death. What?! This is for kids!

Of course it is for kids, kids love that stuff! Kids that age don’t need to be sheltered. In fact, most of them have seen or heard enough horrors in middle school alone that would make any adult poo their shoe. The 1980s horror movie understood this, and treated their young audience with respect. The movies didn’t pull any punches – because life doesn’t pull any punches. They showed kids how they really were (swear-word spewing a-holes) and didn’t mind if they gave you nightmares following the flick. Actually, that IS the point of a horror movie, isn’t it?! Somehow we have lost our way in the modern age.

Don’t be fooled by my 2.9 rating. It may seem low, but it is just in comparison to all of the other great movies we have watched as part of the RDHP. As a rabid fan of 1980s horror, The Gate had it all: whinny teens with gnarly period clothing; stop motion face-melting; cute yet crazy wicked demons; realistic kids; commentary that heavy metal is actually devil metal.

Best of all, The Gate had an original story that can captivate the kid inside all of us – there is nothing cooler than thinking a wild adventure lurks right in your own backyard. Actually, I believe the latter is an old Boystown pickup line. Hey, to each his own!"

N-Rating: 2.7 out of 5.0
Nick Rich summons:
“Now this movie is just good clean fun; and by 'good' I mean 80s-licious and by 'clean' I mean true to the spirit of that time period. I really enjoyed growing up as a child in the 1980's: there was action, adventure and people just seemed more chill (maybe the constant threat of nuclear annihilation is good for a society - who knew???). The Gate just screamed the 80s - seriously, there were like 15 scenes where pre-pubescent boys were screaming their confused vocal chords off... and I loved every crackling minute of it!

This film was by no means great (I did give it a 2.7 after all). It didn't pioneer any special effects or thrill us with a story that was entirely original, but it did rock the full arsenal of effects available at the time and what the story lacked in basic originality it more than made up for in creative execution. I found myself marveling at the level of effects employed in such a low-key film; it had it all: stop motion, Claymation, animation and latex creature moldings! Say what you will about non-CGI effects, but what they lack in clarity they make up for in texture (you could feel the skin of the big daddy demon at the end of the film - he was amazing!).

I found myself knowing exactly where the story was going but surprised that I was surprised by how I was led there (confusing right?). This film had a magic captured so well by the majority of 80s horror/fantasy films: it felt realistic in spite of its own absurdity. The Gate transported me back to a simpler time and I felt all the richer for it!

The Skinny: If you have a soft spot in your heart for the 80s (i.e. neon apparel, nonsensically styled hair, disturbingly trusting parents) then you owe it to yourself to go digging around the ol' back yard for this gem of a flick."

Things the RDHP Learned from “The Gate”:
-All heavy metal records end with satanic sermons
-Torturing moths is not cruel, it’s “neat”
-“Parents-out-of-town” teen parties always involve telling scary stories
-The Lee sisters make male children puke
-Kids should always know where Dad keeps his gun. They may need it to shoot a demon.
-The Bible can double as a high powered explosive
-Dancing with the family dog can kill it
-Special Edition DVD covers are so special they have characters on it that weren't in the movie:

Treasures buried in the RDHP’s Backyard:
-Golden nuggets
-Fidos 1-4
-"Killed in battle" G.I. Joes (Duke, your dying screams were pathetic)
-Pirate booty
-Stella's "Groove"
-XFL “He Hate Me” Jersey
-Jimmy Hoffa
-Unmailed love letters to Chelsea Clinton
-Radio Shack Tandy 1000 PC
-Two dozen hobo skulls

(Special note: Nick was feet away from meeting Chelsea Clinton as a wee lad in London, circa 1995, but he didn't have the guts to profess his love. Now his nights are filled with salty tears. Just kidding, Mel! (No, he's not kidding)

From Cuddly to Fugly:
Actor Stephen Dorff looked so cute in “The Gate,” portraying Glen as a pudgy sweetie pie. One look at his drug-rattled face today makes one cry for the ravages of time. That boy went from Cuddly to Fugly! In Stephen Dorff’s unfortunate honor, a list of other child stars who stopped being cute when their body hair began to sprout...

Stephen Dorff:
Cuddly :)

Fugly :(

The Olsen Twins:
Cuddly :)

 Fugly :(

Macaulay Culkin:
Cuddly :)

Fugly :(

Cuddly :)

Fugly :(

Zack and Cody:
Cuddly :)

Fugly :(

Haley Joel Osment:
Cuddly :)

Fugly :(

Danny Bonaduce:
Cuddly :)

Fugly :(

Rainbow Bright:
Cuddly :)

Fugly :(

Quote of the Viewing:
[Glen and Terry harass big sister Al’s friends, saying how gross girls are.]
Nick and Chris in pre-teen squeak voice:
“Ohhh man. Teen girls just have cooties falling out the ying-yang, Terry!”

Cliché Quote of the Viewing:
Chris: “Damn, that is a lot of evil coming out of that hole.”
Nick: “That’s what she said.”


  1. I think this is the second time the blog has mentioned Zack and Cody. You guys secretly watch The Suite Life, don't you.

  2. You've uncovered our secret shame!