Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Month of Terror: The Gate (1987)

Director: Tibor Takacs
Starring: Stephen Dorff, Christa Denton, Louis Tripp

A shlocky, corny 80s horror-lite that I found rather enjoyable...it's one of those movies where you get a bunch of kids fighting off an evil force that somehow makes all the coloring bright, nightmareish neon. It's the kind of movie only the 80s would ever give you, and for what it is, I liked it. It was goofy at times, but the acting was OK and the story was well told, as simple as it was – a tale of two kids who find a hole that leads to Hell in their backyard amidst trying to launch bottle rockets and bratty teenage sisters and their bratty friends.

This is a movie with a very clear Nightmare on Elm Street-esque atmosphere that creates some pretty damn good scares, spreading them out so they're much more shocking and visceral when they hit, amidst the normal scenery and pleasant suburban life of the film's set-up. The characters are simple and broadly drawn, but there are little subtleties like the main character's relationship with his sister, or the other kid and how he changed once his mother died, and so it's never quite one-dimensional.

The climax gets darker, and showcases some truly bleak and hopeless imagery that will leave you wondering if this is going to have a happy ending after all. Like this one scene, where the monster finally comes out. They have a staredown and the monster touches the kid on the head, and you think he just let him off easily…but then when he opens up his hand, he sees a great big eye looking back at him! The whole climax, with all its reds and blacks and howling wind, is just aching with despair and hopelessness. Really unexpected from the rest of the rather upbeat, campy film, and I was impressed. The Gate is a worthwhile and workmanlike 80s horror-fest that you should see if you haven't.

It sees you!