The 80’s, horror movies, and kids go together like the noughties, The Daily Mail and pedophilia stories. As a younger audience began to take up a bigger slice of the market in the decade, horror movies starring and marketed towards kids and teens became the norm and we saw a number of now classic movies being released. The Gate is one of this group, and while it isn’t in the same league as something like The Lost Boys, it is a fun watch with a load of practical special effects, laughs, and scares.
We have a classic 80’s movie set up – kid boy and older teenage sister are being left alone in their house while their parents go away for a weekend of sexing. The boy is like any 80’s kid and has a geeky best friend, the sister is a bit of a bimbo wannabe and has a group of annoying friends. Due to a host of 80’s reasons – prophetic dreams, weird rocks, unintentional blood-letting, and heavy metal, the boy (Glen) causes a gateway to hell or something to open up in his garden, and a variety of demons, possessions, and little claymation freaks lay siege to the house. The three kids try to fend off the hordes and work out how to close The Gate, and we get some laughs, actions, soft scares, and snazzy effects along the way – it’s basically The Evil Dead for kids.
If I’d seen this regularly in the 80’s I probably would have enjoyed it more, but as such it remains an interesting artifact for newcomers. There will be nostalgic charm for many viewers of a certain age, but not a lot for modern audiences to get out of it. Steven Dorff is good in the lead role, showing a lot of skill at a young age while the rest of the cast are fine if unremarkable. The film takes a while to get out of first gear, but the last part of the movie emulates the likes of Poltergeist as it tries to pack in the thrills and the special effects. While the effects do not hold up, some of the model work is excellent and would have been impressive at the time of release, the scares are not going to have an impact on anyone but the youngest viewer, and the dialogue and laughs are likely only going to be enjoyed by the nostalgic viewer. Still, this makes a nice introduction to horror movies for the younger kid along with classics like Ghostbusters and Gremlins and would still provide some spooky fun during a Halloween party.
Have you seen The Gate? Let us know in the comments how you feel it ranks against other classics of the genre from the same time.