Wednesday, July 08, 2015

The Gate (1987)

There are some movies that can withstand the test of time.  They have a quality that allows them to be understood and enjoyed equally by any generation.  Such movies can be watched and rewatched and never lose their appeal.  The Gate is not such a movie.

The movie starts with a boy named Glen returning home to find it abandoned.  It looks like his family left mid meal.  He goes to his tree house, which is promptly hit by lightening.  He awakens to find it was just a nightmare.  When he looks out of his window, he sees said tree being cut down, leaving a geode exposed.  Glen and his friend, Terry, manage to dig it back up after the workers burry it.  Glen’s parents are going out of town for the weekend.  In their absence, Glen’s sister, Alexandra, will be in charge.  (This basically means that Alexandra will be inviting her obnoxious friends over.)

If you’ve seen a lot of mid-budget horror movies, you’re probably wondering by now what could possibly go wrong.  Well, the hole that’s been reopened by the boys happens to be a portal to a netherworld.  Inside the geode is a set of instructions meant to let a demon and its minions through to our plane.  It just so happens that Glen and Terry manage to set off a series of bizarre and horrifying events.

When I say horrifying, remember that this is a 1987 movie.  It’s not for small children, but it’s not particularly nightmare inducing, either.  (Teens on up should be fine.)  Those that grew up on more modern movies will probably find the effects and the scary parts laughable.  The scariest thing is a large demon coming out of the floor.

There are also some things that would be either cliché or lost on today’s audiences, such as playing a vinyl record backwards for a satanic/subliminal message.  You don’t really hear about that much any more.  (I guess it wouldn’t be hard to play an MP3 backwards, but still…)  I also find it odd that there’s always exactly one character that knows exactly what do to.  It just so happens that Terry knows all about the portal.  This is because he has a record made by a band that had previous dealings with the portal.  This one and only album has liner notes with very helpful instructions.

Also, despite the characters’ best efforts, various requisite acts, such as offering blood, occur either accidentally or without the main characters’ knowledge.  I don’t want to give away too much, in case you want to experience the movie for yourself, but when you have instructions on how to open a portal to hell, you have to know that every step will eventually be followed.  (How is it that Glen is even able to read the instructions, anyway?)

I vaguely remember seeing this movie when I was in middle school.  I also remember a friend referencing the movie’s sequel, which I may look in to.  I don’t remember if I overlooked the movie’s shortcomings at the time because it was on par with other stuff of the era or if it was because I was 11 when the movie came out.  I’m not saying that it’s a total waste of 85 minutes. I suppose if you have just over an hour to kill, there are worse things you could watch.  I’m just saying that there are probably better horror movies if that’s what you’re looking for.

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