#263 -- The Gate (1987)
Director: Tibor Takacs
I remember watching this movie as a kid, when my aunt loaned me her VHS copy of it. I always thought the cover looked really cool, so when I finally got up the courage, I was so excited to see it. Even then, I remember thinking it was weird. Not in an awesome, scary way, but in a what the hell? kind of way. Or since I was ten, it was probably more of what the crap?
It's about a boy named Glenn and some interesting things that happen when his parents go out of town. At the beginning of the movie, Glenn has a nightmare about everyone disappearing and his tree-house getting knocked down by lightning. When he wakes up, though, it's just because his parents are having the tree cut down. I guess just to crush his little boy dreams. I'm not sure. When the tree's cut down, it leaves a gigantic hole in the yard, from which Glenn and his best friend Terry find a beautiful rock with colorful crystals inside. They figure they can sell it and become rich, so they take it inside and bust it open. When they do, it leaves some weird markings on a sheet of paper (conveniently), and since they resemble letters, Glenn reads them aloud. Meanwhile, Glenn's parents go out of town for three days, leaving him and his sixteen year-old sister Al by themselves. There's a party full of drunk teenagers, and some of them decide to test out the "light as a feather" game on Glenn. He levitates really high and gets freaked out. After the party, their family dog, Angus, dies. Instead of calling their parents, they get Al's boyfriend to dispose of the body--which he does by dumping it in the hole that was left by the tree.
See, all of this is important because that's how the gate is opened. Apparently, there were some old gods that were around before the bible even. And they wanted to return, or something, but someone had to open the gate in order for them to do so. And once they emerged from the hole, all they had to do was get two human sacrifices and they could take over the world. Terry discovers everything from a heavy metal album. The sacrifice (Angus), the incantation (those weird markings), and blood (which was given when Glenn cut his finger while rummaging around near the hole). Apparently, these heavy metal artists (who died in a mysterious plane crash after creating the album) were the experts on demons. From the album sleeve, they learn how to open the gate, close the gate, and even how to kill the demons. Unfortunately, once the demons arrive, they burn the book up, so they have to try to remember everything they'd already read. Since these are little boys and an airhead teenager, things are bound to go horribly wrong. The fate of the world is left up to these three, as well as two of Al's even dumber friends.
I will say that the kids did a pretty good job with their roles; besides Terry, because his acting seemed kind of over-the-top and weird. Not bad, just weird. The effects were typical '80s, and I always like that sort of thing. The story was interesting, if not a little too contrived. The demons were a bit ridiculous, though. They were tiny little things with big 'ol bug eyes. They looked more like miniature aliens than demons. And once the big daddy demon showed up, he looked just as ridiculous, if not more.
Some of the scenes in the movie simply didn't make sense. Like, after they all thought they'd defeated the demons and closed the gate (by reading some bible verses, even though they knew these demons were supposedly around before the bible), a random zombie came out of the wall and kidnapped Terry. It was some story that Terry told Glenn trying to freak him out, and then it magically came true. Also, once the gate was opened, Terry started having weird dreams too, so Glenn wasn't the only one. He dreamed that he was seeing his dead mother, only to wake up and realize he was cradling Angus' corpse. I'm not entirely sure if the hole had anything to do with it, or if it was just some weird plot point that really had no point at all. If even one of the kids had said "the hole makes me have weird dreams!" maybe I would have been able to understand where it was coming from. But no, it was just something that happened, but no one ever talked about it or wondered why it was happening.
It has its issues, of course, but The Gate really isn't a horrible movie. Or maybe I'm just associating it with my fond childhood memories of staying up late and watching these horror movies that my aunt gave me (because, honestly, she gave me most of the ones I saw as a kid). It does have a tiny little place in my heart, simply because I remember seeing and somewhat enjoying it. Yeah, I'm sentimental like that. But watching it as an adult, I realize that it's really not all that great. It has its moments, its ups and downs, but at the end of the night, it's just a bunch of kids fighting demons. How can you hate that?
Don't worry...at the end, the dog comes back.