Although it’s probably more known by film fans for being Stephen Dorff’s feature film debut (and he’d later keep up his horror credentials by staring in the likes of Blade, Alone in the Dark and 2017’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre prequel, Leatherface), as well as future film and television stars Kelly Rowan and Jennifer Irwin, 1987’s The Gate has plenty to offer for fans of 80’s horror. It has that coming-of-age/fantasy element that fans of 1985’s The Goonies will recognise but with added chesesy, demonic, creatures from hell horror that genre fans love. It’s definitely not a film that all modern horror fans might get and inevitably it looks dated now but there’s no doubt that The Gate deserves its cult status.
For those unfamiliar with the film: when Glenn (Dorff) and his friend Terry (Louis Tripp) explore a hole left by a tree removal in Glenn’s backyard, strange things start occurring. The more they explore, the stranger and scarier things get until the friends realise they may have accidentally opened a gateway to hell. If that hasn’t hooked you in then Terry’s love of heavy metal, which possibly helped summon the demons, of course (it is the devil’s music after all), along with the 80s clothes, hair and special effects should!
To be fair, despite the pure 80s horror cheese on offer, The Gate has a few darker moments and a couple of heart warming ones to that give it that coming-of-age feel at times. Particularly in the final act when we see Glenn, Terry and Glenn’s sister Alexandra (Christa Denton) battling together against the demons taking over their house, those 80s special effects coming to the fore as the three are chased by mini-demons and the supernatural forces within the walls and even outside (one of the films memorable scare scenes involving demons disguised as Glenn and Alexandra’s parents, trying to get inside the house) and it’s these final scenes that prove for the most part that The Gate is actually quite an entertaining and enjoyable horror film for its time.
Thanks to its cult success, The Gate spawned a sequel, 1990s The Gate 2: Tresspassers. And Hungarian director Tibor Takacs went on to direct that sequel as well as episodes of the likes of The Outer Limits, Sabrina The Teenage Witch and The Crow TV series; and also various B-movie horrors such as the awesome sounding Ice Spiders in 2007. Stephen Dorff has gone on to have a solid film and TV career, also staring in Somewhere, Public Enemies, World Trade Centre, The Iceman, Judgement Night and FeardotCom, among others.
Out of the other actors, Kelly Rowan (who played Alexandra’s friend, Lori in The Gate) has probably had the most success, staring in family movie classic, Hook and horror sequel Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh as well as plenty of television appearances including The Outer Limits, Dallas, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami, Castle and The O.C.. Proving yet again that horror is a great place to start for any budding young actor!
But for fans of 80s horror, The Gate is the film that many will remember the above names for; and rightly so. Fun, silly, scary in its own way and kind of bad but great at the same time, The Gate is a must for any 80s horror obsessive and one to tick off the list for horror film fans in general.
Lionsgate UK presents The Gate in their ongoing Vestron Collector’s Series, restored and remastered on Blu-ray with stacks of great additional content, available now.