Wednesday, July 15

Some nostalgic thoughts on The Gate (1987)

ya got demons...

This one was among my misty childhood movie memories that I futilely tried to remember the title of for years. What I did take from it was odd. Obvious things like the scruffy dog, the hole in the backyard, or even those little goblins didn't stick in my head. When I finally tracked this down a few years ago all those things were totally new to me. No, the aspects I remembered as a kid were the cul-de-sac suburbia setting and Terry's metal poster-plastered bedroom. For some reason, I loved and was probably a bit envious of these things which I didn't have growing up.

Watching it now, I might have been mentally blocking trauma. The Gate might be the purest example of a "straight" horror flick aimed at preteens. Freddy or "insert slasher baddie here" is bad enough, but director Takács and writer Michael Nankin squarely hit on all the little things that tend to give this dynamic the willies. There's no centralized threat, instead "the gate" has paranormal influence around its vicinity, creating an all-consuming distortion of reality as it cracks open ever further. I'm no child psychiatrist, but I imagine this total loss of normalcy being far headier to a young viewer than a mere madman. The scene in which Glen's (Stephen Dorff) parents turn out to be illusions and try to straggle the boy also falls into the childhood fear of a sudden radical change in a parent.

The film has the balls to throw in story details concerning the death of a parent (Terry's mother) and family pet. Both potential and extremely traumatic events in childhood. Not to mention the under-the-bed monster that attempts to pull the kids under, bitey goblins, and a cool throwback non-flesheating zombie servant of the damned. One could bring up The Monster Squad or The Goonies as great kid horror, and they are, but both soften their edges with adventure and comedy.

The Gate
never really dulls its horrors, and when Glen looks out of his bedroom window during the climax and sees a huge vortex streaming from the hole consuming the sky, one gets the genuine feeling he may not succeed in closing the portal. Even though relatively well-known, Takács' film still seems under appreciated, a great mix of frights and outstanding effects work grounded with a simple but solid yarn.

The now defunct Platinum Disc Corporation's out-of-print DVD is pretty bog standard. The picture quality is okay, but noticeably cramped to full screen with the ends credits in the film's original 1.85:1 widescreen ratio. No extras to speak of. There is a German disc with an anamorphic widescreen transfer and 5.1 English track, but Amazon.de shipping is crazy.

6 comments:

Johnny said...

One of my favorite horror movies from my childhood. Funny you mention this today because I was just getting ready to make a post on my blog regarding an email Lionsgate just sent me about this movie! I think you'll like....

the bayou beast. said...

i LOVE this movie. i think i'm the only one who appreciated (mildly) the sequel.

Sehnzeleid said...

Excellent Johnny! Can't wait to hear the news!

I saw the sequel awhile back, I really don't remember too much of it...

Carl (ILHM) said...

The Gate is one of my all time favorites, I still say the FX are some of the most ambitious and amazing FX to come out of the 80s. I still dont know how they got the minions to appear to be so believable on screen?? The Gate II is pretty standard, no where near as awesome as the first.

Tommy Salami said...

I never saw this as a kid but I wish I had! I saw it on cable a while back and loved it. I have tons of screencaps over at my review.

Sadly they want to remake it. Of course. :(

Sehnzeleid said...

Wow, didn't hear of the remake. Ugh.

...do you dare tread upon the staircase?
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