The Gate – Blu-ray review
Director: Tibor Takacs
Stars: Stephen Dorff, Christa Denton, Louis Tripp
By Brian M. Sammons
A lot of good things come from Canada. Beer, hockey, maple syrup, 15% of the oil the U.S. uses (look it up), and William Shatner are just some of the wonders from the Great White North. But you know what else is? Horror movies, especially during the Golden Age of horror movies; i.e., the 1980s. A good number of everyone’s favorite fright flicks come from Canada, and yet I remember that when this chunk of Canadian cinema came out in 1987 (yes, I can remember that far back because I’m old), it was a big deal that this flick came from America’s Hat as if it was the first to do so. Well, it wasn’t, but was this kid-friendly fright flick (usually the touch of death when it comes to horror movies) any good? Well grab your rocket ship, your favorite heavy metal record, and a big plate of poutine, and let’s find out.
A very young Stephen Dorff, his friend, and his older sister accidently discover a gate to hell in the backyard of their nice, suburban home. Through a series of unfortunate events, they open that gate and hell comes pouring out. First comes the hell moths (no, really) followed by the truly nightmare-like dreams. Then the tiny impish demons make an appearance, ushering the way for their big, bad, king demon to come through and destroy the world. Oh, and did I mention the zombie construction worker and someone’s head being torn off and hitting the floor in a big mushy mess?
Now before you get too scared, know that this is a PG-13 movie. However, that does not mean that the frights have been watered down all that much, like so many other scary films that have that rating. Here it just means that there is no excessive gore (despite the mush head previously mentioned), nudity, or profanity, and I am fine with that. Not all horror movies need to be raunchy splatter-fests. Not that there is anything wrong with those, either, but variety is the spice of life, after all. What this movie does have is likable characters, a director well-versed in tension and dread, impressive practical effects (especially for fans of Ray Harryhausen-ian stop-motion animation), lots of humor, heavy metal music NOT being the source of evil here (a rare thing for the time), and oh my God there is so much wonderful 80s-ness here, from the music, to the fashion, the hair, and the slang/insults. As a huge fan of the 80s, and 80s horror flicks in particular, I loved every minute of it. So if you are a slave to nostalgia like me, or someone wanting to introduce safe, but still scary, movies to your kids, it’s hard to beat The Gate.
On to the extras and special features on this new Blu-ray from Lionsgate’s Vestron Video Collector’s Series. There are two audio commentary tracks here. The first is with director Tibor Takacs, writer Michael Nankin, and special effects designer William Cook. The second is also with Cook, special make-up effects artist Craig Reardon, special effects artist Frank Carere, and matte photographer Bill Taylor. Whew, that’s a lot of people. There is an isolate score and audio interview with composers Michael Hoenig and J. Peter Robinson. There are eight featurettes: The Gate: Unlocked, Minion Maker, From Hell it Came, The Workman Speaks!, Made in Canada, From Hell: the Creatures & Demons from The Gate, The Gatekeepers, and Making of The Gate. All together these run two hours and 38 minutes. In addition there is a teaser trailer, theatrical trailer, TV spot, storyboard gallery, and behind-the-scenes gallery. Not too bad for a little Canadian creature feature.
The Gate is a fun, well-made, and still surprisingly effective horror movie despite its PG-13 rating. It’s a blast from the past that should not be missed by fans, or those who have yet to give it a watch. Add to that the fact that this new Blu-ray looks good and is surprisingly well stocked with extra content for a mostly forgotten fright film, and I can easily and highly recommend this one.