Sunday, July 22, 2012

Grimm Reviewz Remembers: The Gate (1987)

Every month I am going to pay homage to a horror film that I love personally and think are staples in the horror genre. And non better to start with than The Gate. This month Grimm Reviewz remembers The Gate.

When I think back to my first memories of The Gate I remember watching this movie as a child with my sister, and we were obsessed. It was one of those movies that we could watch over and over and over and even after you memorize most of the dialog it still doesn't get boring. It was our go-to movie.
I watched it so many times that after a while my sister got tired of watching it. I must have watched that movie atleast every other day. Sometimes days back to back.

Trivia: Writer Michael Nankin based the script from specific things in his childhood. For example, Nankin did have a best friend named Terry.

It was a good horror movie for a kid my age back then, especially a kid growing his roots in horror. The Gate was fun, scary and entertaining. I watched this like it was a Disney flick. But since it came out on the year I was born I didn't actually see the film until about 1994 or 1995. And after being one of my favorite movies as a kid I went years without seeing it, and in those years I've seen some movies that I used to love and found them to be not as good as I remembered. So when I randomly decided to buy it on Amazon because I haven't seen it in so long, I was ultimately scared that it would suffer the effects of some of the other films that didn't hold up anymore.

Terrence 'Terry' Chandler: Demons aren't gonna ring the doorbell!

So how happy was I when after watching this movie again after all these years it still hasn't changed? I was very happy! The cheese/ bad effects in this movie work, their endearing because it's a good story, they aren't held against it. How can you hate those little action figure sized demons? As the movie was happening I was remembering all the scenes still to come that I had forgotten about until the point of re-watcing it. 

And how could we forget the young face of Stephen Dorff? His rivalry with his sister in this film reminds me off growing up with my sister. Only luckily we never formed a bond through being infested with demons.

Trivia: Joshua John Miller was considered for the role of Glen.
          This is also Stephen Dorff's film debut.

It all starts with Glen and Terrence finding that rock in Glen's backyard. They bring it in and inspect it, even talk about the money they could make off such a cool rock and before you know it the damned thing imprinted a seance to open the gates of hell on Glen's tablet. 

Even as a kid I knew they screwed up, I'm too paranoid to be gutsy when it comes to screwing with things from the other side. I even own a copy of the Necronomocon but I never read it. This was the first scene in the movie to really lead up to something big happening, you knew them breaking the rock open and reading the symbols it left was bad news. I remember being thrilled yet terrified of what's to come and I eagerly awaited it.

Then of course with the calm before the storm, or in this case the spell not working due to not having a sacrifice was good news. However, you know someone always has to come along and screw something up-like burying a dog in the hole in the backyard that just happens to be where the little demons are and is being counted as a sacrifice. I guess when you're in hell you'd settle for a dead dog too. Whatever does the trick right?

Trivia: The bible passage the Lee sisters picked out was from different portions of Psalms verses 59:1 to 59:9

That scene was aggravating to me and was why teenagers are so stupid and even in this case rude and disrespectful. When your girlfriend asks you to take her dead dog to the vet and you throw it in a hole in the backyard because the vet is closed? Not going to win anyone brownie points. Not to mention he just unleashed hell's demons in his girlfriends backyard turning her slumber party into literally a night in hell. I knew the crap had just hit the fan.

There's the scene where we see Terrence at home in his bedroom rocking out to metal music and really showing off the lack of parental control going on in his life. Terrence was definitely the problem child of the movie. Then he has to go ahead and make things worse by listening to his record label backwards and decoding the seance the demons have left. 

Trivia: The fictional The Dark Book album Terry shows Glen features the log for (the very real) Canadian thrash metal band Sacrifice.

Terrence 'Terry' Chandler: May the old devils depart! May they burn in the fires of their own damnation! May they freeze in the infinite golden darkness of their own hideous creation!

Glen : Isn't that kind of insulting?

Terrence 'Terry' Chandler: I guess it's supposed to be. I mean, we're trying to get rid of them.

It was one of those things your gut tells you is wrong and that you shouldn't do, but the people in the movie for some reason have no logical inside voice talking them out of doing stupid things. This was a scene of trouble and a case of kids needing to know when  they should just back off before they raise a little hell.

When you see the little demons for the first time it's awesome because it's not what you'd expect. And although they're terribly small they still come off as scary and even menacing. The fact that their action figure sized is cool too, if you ask me, because it just works for their design with the pointy ears and bald heads. Their presence alone explains all you need to know-they're weird and even creepy. But they're also cheesy and that helps establish the feel of the movie.

My reaction to seeing them was that I was scared of them but I wanted a action figure of them because their size reminded me of toys, and besides I think having an action figure of those little guys would be pretty cool to have. Don't you?

Al: You mean you guys were serious about that demons stuff?

One of the coolest scenes in the movie is when the gang is on the run from the little demons and the one reaches it's arm in the door just in time for the door to close at cut it's arm off. It then turns into maggots and they crawl out the door back to the demon.

This scene stood out to me because I instantly felt the pain of how bad that must feel to have your arm cut off with a door. But I was mostly concerned with how I would have reacted if I were in that moment with that happening to me. It was a well done scene very fun and enjoyable. This also was just the beginning of what was still to come.

Trivia: The deminutive demonic minions are played by actors in rubber suits who were made to look tiny by being shot in forced perspective.

One of the most terrifying and memorable scenes in this move is when Terrence falls into the hole in Glen's backyard with all the demons. As he screams and panics desperately for help and he's swarmed with the little demons biting him and attacking him.

The thing that stood out to me from this scene the most was the horrific squeal the demon lets out when Terrence stomps on it when trying to escape the hole. It was so high pitched and full of pain it was almost hard to watch because part of me was expecting it to squish under his shoe. But instead he just stomps the hell out of it leaving it in a convulsing fit squealing.

But definitely the most memorable scene for me is when Glen gets the eyeball in his hand. It looks very real for it's time and totally scary, just imagining that happening used to put me at unease. 

The pain that Glen must have felt from that was crucial and to have to stab it to get it out of your hand is bold and painful. I would have hesitated to do it, but I guess his only alternative would have been to lop off his own hand with a chainsaw and then attach the chainsaw to is arm in replace of his hand.

Dad: [as demon] [shouts] You've...been...BAD!

I'd have to say the scariest scene of this film is when the demons get Terrence and Glen encounters Terrence in the closet. His possessed form was ugly and scary. Topped by having the leg of a barbie shoved into his eye by Glen. Such a cool and scary scene and definitely in the top memorable ones.

Trivia: The logo on the back of Terry's jacket is that of the Killer Dwarfs, a heavy metal band from the Toronto, Ontario area who were known for the sense of humor.

Then for the big finale even the little demons want to watch in amazement as the giant demon rises from The Gate and into the middle of Glen's living room. This scene was scary but also corny so it lightened the mood. The claymation giant demon was awesome though and made for a very cool scene.

Terrence 'Terry' Chandler: We accidentally summoned demons who used to rule the universe to come and take over the world.

Glen: Yeah, we found out about it from, -uh, one of Terry's albums.

This film truly is an amazing one and one that will continue to fill us with it's magic every time we watch it for years to come. The Gate is an elite horror films and a staple in the 80's horror era. The ending is happy but good and suits this movie well. It's one of the most beloved horror films of the 80's. It even spawned a decent sequel Gate 2, which isn't nearly as good as its predecessor but was still a fun and enjoyable sequel.

There's been some cool posters released for this movies promotion, though I wish more merchandise were available. I'd really go for a model kit or action figure from this movie. If I could get my hands on a little demon that would make a great collectible.

 They even did an updated cover for the special edition DVD which I do not like. I don't like the picture or the fact that it isn't from the movie. I have no idea who the kid on the cover is. Certainly no one in the movie dressed like the kid on this cover.

This film is available to view on Youtube and on Netflix streaming, so if you have access to either you have no excuse for not watching this movie. And to those of you who have saw it, I hope I inspired you to watch it again and reminded you why you love this movie.




  1. Great movie with alot of great memories! Great job on the review, bro :)

  2. Thank ya. It was a pleasure doing this one.

  3. A very enjoyable movie to come out of the mostly
    "crappy" horror films of its time ...Very well done and introduced actor Stephen Dorff .... Later to be the villain the the "Blade" movie....

  4. Dorff's version of Deacon Frost was great :)

  5. Nice review with some fun facts! It's obvious that you have a lot of affection for this cool little horror flick.

    The story for Joe Dante's as yet unreleased "The Hole" sounds kind of similar. It will be interesting to compare the two movies.

    ...And yes, it would be great to have an action figure of one of those tiny demons!

  6. Yes! Give us a model kit or something!

    "The Hole" does sound similar but I'm always open minded to new films. We'll see how it goes.


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