Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Gate

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Did you know you can kill a demon with a rocket?  The Gate knew.

The Gate – 3 out of 5

Kids were CONSTANTLY fighting zombies in the 80s.
The 80s were a wild time for kids in movies. They were always off and getting into crazy adventures despite the fact that if any of them really got into these situations, they would die terrible, terrible deaths and then the media would blame their demise on violent video games. But this is the world of movies and when parental neglect comes into play, the kid (or kids) rise up to the occasion and head out to find One-Eyed Willie’s treasure, explore the depths of space in an old carnival ride or, in the case of The Gate, try to stop demons from crossing the dimensional barrier and entering our mortal world. Those rabble-rousing kids!  I shake my finger at you in a shaming but playful manner.

She gets her hair gel from Ben Stiller.

Now imagine the E-cig hanging out of his mouth.
Long before he became the go-to guy to hock E-cigs, Stephen Dorff was a wee widdle boy and he starred in The Gate. Dorff plays Glen and he and his nerd, metal-loving friend Terry (Louis Trip) discover that a hole in the backyard is a gateway to a darker realm filled with tiny demons that want out. Terry discovers that one of his metal records, when played backwards (because it was the 80s) reveals how to close the portal and send the little hell spawns back to the shadows. Now, normally, a parent should be around when playing around with undead monsters but they’re off having fun so it’s up to Glen, Terry and Glen’s sister Al (short for Alexandra) must step up to the plate and shut that portal forever.

All of life's problems were created and subsequently solved by playing records
backwards in the 80s.

I've seen better holes to hell.
It’s been years since I’ve seen this movie. I’ve seen it a couple of times as a kid and it stands out because it kinda spooked me (I was a stupid kid and was easily scared. Now, it’s impossible to scare me…I have no middle ground). I remember finding those little demon, turd-appearing, dog-resembling monsters to be unnerving (again, I was a stupid kid) but I watched it several times nonetheless (repeat…stupid kid). After a friend of mine reminded me of the film, I instantly put it on my Netflix queue and then…promptly forgot about it. Then, one day while I sat staring at the mailbox (which I’m known to do), the mail came and I found those familiar red envelopes and this movie in one of them (I want to be paid for the name-dropping, Netflix). Remembering that I added the film after a friend of mine made me remember the film, I decided to revisit The Gate and see if those little minions of Hell still scared me.

Yes, they are still frightening!  No...wait...that's Terry.

Spoilers…they didn’t.

Yeah...they're no longer creepy to me.  They still look like turds though.

Even though I’ve grown out of finding those little creatures that tried to eat Terry when he fell into the hole scary, I did completely forget how fun this film was. The 80s was a great era for movies that involved kids getting themselves into trouble and forced to step up their game to get the fuck out of it. Once the 90s hit, kids getting into trouble usually involved slapstick comedy and the lesson the kid learns is that just be wacky when the shit happens and all will work out…and possible traps/pranks/hi-jinks that will result in death in real life but will, of course, result in hilarity and pratfalls in the movie universe. Of course, I’m not saying this film doesn’t get silly…Glen saves the day with a goddamn rocket! (Oh, I’m sorry, did I just spoil a 27 year old movie for you?)

Rockets kill demons.  This isn't a spoiler, it's a fact of life.

Okay, I'll be honest, Terry is pretty damn cool.
While The Gate isn’t as great as other films about kids banding together to stop or discover something new, the movie is still pretty fun. The story is simple (shit, they don’t even explain why the hole to Hell exists in this suburban backyard, it’s just there) and the kids are all decent actors for their age. Finally, the movie’s practical effects don’t feel as dated as other films that utilized stop-motion and other non-computer effects that existed at the time. Also, an added fun bonus of returning to the film is realizing that the young boy Glen will one day be a spokesman for an electronic cigarette…an object that, if you travelled back in time, would make a coked-out 80s Wall Street tycoon’s head explode if you showed it to him.

This is why no one has land lines anymore.

"You cannot stop me, human.  I mean, it's not like you have
some sort of toy rocket or anything."
The Gate is one of those easy, uncomplicated 80s movies that may not be the first film you run to when you want to take a walk down memory lane but it sure is simple fun. There’s nothing complicated about it, no complex or twisting narrative, the characters don’t change much after the events and really only learn how to deal with demons if the opportunity presents itself (which, actually, isn’t that bad of a skill to have) but it doesn’t mean there isn’t a charm or a spark to this film that other movies that tried to be something more and ultimately failed. The Gate isn’t incredible or earth-shattering…it’s just fine and that’s what makes it fun to watch. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to forget about this film and have my friend remind me of its existence again in, I don’t know, about 20 years. Maybe I’ll be scared of those little things again by that time.


  1. Not as good as The Goonies, but INFINITELY better than anything made for kids today.


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