Director Tibor Takács, who has had a long career in horror, from I, Madman to Spiders 3D, scored an 80s video rental/cable classic with The Gate. A few years later he delivered a follow-up that suffers from a bad case of late 80s/early 90s sequelitis.
THE GATE (1987)
The Gate is the perfect blend of Poltergeist, Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark, and House. And for a PG-13 film about a kid unleashing little demon creatures from a hole in his backyard (definitely a Spielberg feel), it’s surprisingly scary with some great icky moments.
In his first starring role in a movie, Stephen Dorff (Blade, Feardotcom, Cold Creek Manor, Alone In The Dark, Botched, Rites Of Passage) plays a little boy who gets to stay home with his teenage sister while their parents are away for the weekend. Sure, the sister has a party, but the bigger issue is that Stephen and his occult loving metal head friend unleash something evil from a hole in the backyard after which a tree has been uprooted.
All hell breaks loose in a real fun 80s way. Despite efforts to close up the hole, including playing a heavy metal record backwards and reading from a magic book, the kids are first haunted by faux versions of their parents, the family dog dies (WTF?), little demon creatures that love to bite come out of the hole, a zombie corpse man breaks through a wall in the house to chase the kids around, a giant monster arm tries to drag them under the bed, Dorff ends up with a human eye on his hand, and to top it all off, a giant version of the little demons rises from a hole in the middle of the house for a boss battle!
There’s not much logic to all that goes on, but it sure is a smorgasbord of thrills and chills. After all, open up a hole to a hellish dimension in your backyard, you never know what will crawl out of there—or out of the wall in your house.
No one gets special treatment—being a kid isn’t a “get out of pain and horror” free card. These kids are bitten, abducted, and even have to mutilate their parents and each other. And did I mention the fricking dog dies?
GATE 2: THE TRESPASSERS (1990)
It is tragic how terrible this film is. Hell, Stephen Dorff had nothing but bit parts on TV shows on his resume by the time this film was released, and he didn’t even bother coming back.
So the star now is the metal head friend. Dorff’s family has moved away, so the metal head kid is now sneaking into their empty house to summon creatures from beyond. This stupid fucker didn’t learn his lesson? But, it was established in the first film that he was a bit of a mess because his mother had died, and now his dad is an alcoholic. Who better to cure the evils of temptation than demons from hell?
Anyway, after releasing one of the little demon creatures with his magic, the metal head keeps it caged in his room and soon discovers it can grant wishes. He starts to get close to a girl from school (Pamela Segall, best known as Dolores “Upchuck” from Grease 2 and one of many temporary jump the shark cast members on The Facts Of Life), which does not sit well with the high school bad boys she usually hangs out with.
They kidnap the little demon, it turns them into demons, and everyone ends up in a dark dimension where the metal head has to rescue his new gal pal from the demons with a jewelry box.
Ugh. It’s agonizing, with as shitty a plot, about as little genuine horror, and as much failed humor as you’d expect from a late 80s sequel to a classic horror film.
And the dark dimension sequence is atrocious, as is the campy happy ending moment at a funeral. If you’re going to watch this one, you might as well just completely ruin your night and make it a double feature with Ghoulies Go To College.