Director: Tibor Takács
Stars: Louis Tripp, Simon Reynolds, James Villemaire
Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons
This is one that flew under a lot of people’s radars. Most horror fans know of The Gate from 1987, but most forget there was a direct to video sequel in 1990. Well there was, and this is it, but maybe what confused you was the alternate subtitles it had? Maybe? One was The Trespassers and the other was Return to the Nightmare. Or maybe it wasn’t very good? Perhaps it’s just a quick cash-in on a somewhat famous and well-loved kid-friendly fright flick? Well get your laser-powered magic circle, and forget about the heavy metal records this time (sadly) and let’s find out.
The movie picks up two years after the first one. The brother and sister who were the main focus of that film moved away with their parents, I guess, leaving their demon-trashed home as an unwanted, I guess unsellable, eyesore. One night, Terry, the heavy metal-loving neighbor from the first movie (again played by Louis Tripp) goes on over to the ruined house to try summoning the demons once again. This time he knows how to “do it right.” Naturally things still go wrong, especially when a couple of bullies and a love interest crash the party. They do manage to call up one of the adorable little minions from the first movie, but that’s all. Oh well, better luck next time, and how much trouble can one little minion cause anyway? Well, being a demon, the little guy can grant wishes. I’m sure no one will abuse that? Yeah, of course they do, but bad news: the wishes only last a little while before transforming into literal crap. Worst news: there’s a price to pay for using the power and all involved are sure to not like it.
Strengths of the movie include damn good effects to bring the little demon minion to life in the giant-sized world (normal sized to us, but he’s just a little guy) it finds itself in. This was before CGI came to dominate such things, and some real skill and artistry had to be used to make that possible, and that really shines here. Later there is some demon effects of the larger sort and they look well-done too. And there are some funny bits that hit the mark more often than miss it. Weaknesses of the film include some of the acting; the overall plot seems much smaller and less dangerous than the first movie, and the fact that this film got an R rating and it has less blood and profanity than the first movie, and the first one was rated PG-13 just angers me to no end.
Okay, let’s get to those special features that Scream Factory included with this new Blu-ray release. First and foremost there is a look-back featurette called “Return to the Nightmare” (ah, I see what you did there). It talks to a lot of folks who made the film from both behind and in front of the camera, and it runs for 27 minutes. Then there is a trailer, a video promo (that’s a trailer specifically for the VHS release), a video store contest promo, and a still gallery. And that’s it, but that’s not bad for a movie most have forgotten ever existed. So good on them for doing that as much bigger-named movies only get barebones releases on disc.
Gate 2: (whatever subtitle you want) is not as good or fun as the original, but that can be said of most sequels. It’s also not as big of a nostalgia bomb for me, but I do enjoy it, find it fun and funny, if not all that scary. So I do recommend this one, not highly, it’s not a must-have, but if you liked the first The Gate, it is nice to see what happens next. So consider this one a mild recommendation at best.