The Overlook’d: The Gate (1987) Review
Starring Stephen Dorff, Christa Denton, Louis Tripp, Kelly Rowan, and Jennifer Irwin
Directed by Tibor Takács
I have been a horror fan for more than half of my life at this point. Meaning I have seen most of the quality horror offerings under the sun. But that said, every once in a while a classic sneaks past, so we wanted to create this review section for such films. Formerly known as “Through the Cracks”, we have decided to change the name to “The Overlook’d” for obvious reasons: it’s a much cooler title.
Anyhow, I had never seen the kid’s horror flick The Gate until last night. I know, right? How the hell did that happen? But these things do happen and so for everyone that has seen the flick a million times, this will be a review of the movie from a super horror fan that – at the age of 33 – is seeing The Gate for the very first time.
Now let’s get to it.
First off let me start this out by – for lack of a better term – explaining why I had never seen The Gate until last night. This flick was always one of those films that was highly recommended to me. But usually by people whose jaws literally dropped when I told them I hadn’t seen the film as a kid. This made me a bit bitter towards the movie. But in my old age, I have let go of such feelings. Thank God.
Evidently, The Gate was a rite of passage film for most of you guys out there. But you need to understand that my parents were extremely strict about the films they allowed me to watch when I was a kid. To say the least. Little did they know they were breeding a horror fan with their senseless censorship.
Anyhow, Gremlins, Poltergeist, The Monster Squad and the like were okay because these films were usually found in the comedy and/or family sections at our local video stores. Which I guess makes sense. But The Gate was always firmly placed in the horror section at every video store I can remember in my adolescent years.
Rightfully so? Maybe.
But all the same, The Gate was a film that my parents gave a hard-pass to time and time again. And now that I have seen the film as an adult for the first time, I am utterly upset and ready to throw a fun-size fit that I hadn’t viewed the film until my f*cking thirties!
The Gate is a great gateway (natch) to horror movies for kids.
Sure there are some intense parts, but doesn’t Gremlins have that kitchen scene? Doesn’t The Witches have Angelica “The Grand High Witch” Huston? And doesn’t Poltergeist sport that — well, every scene in Poltergeist is pretty intense, so let’s move on.
The first thing that struck me about The Gate was how godd*mn adorable chubby, baby-faced Stephen Dorff was. I’m pretty sure that I can say with total honesty that this is the first time I have ever seen The Dorff onscreen and thought to myself, “Aww.”
That shite doesn’t happen. And for good reason.
Anyhow, the second thing that struck me about the movie was how easy it must have been to pitch. Think about it. Writer Michael Nankin walks into the studio and says, “Get this. I have an idea for a film. Picture the kids from E.T., stuck in the house from Poltergeist, and out of the ground in their backyard emerges… wait for it… Gremlins!”
I can see the studio heads now. All but knocking each other over trying to get to their Scrooge McDuck vault of gold coins to literally drown Nankin in every last cent. How could you not? This is great stuff! Even better is that from that (probable) pitch, to the end product slapped across the screen, more than a few new and fresh ideas and designs hit the stage.
Thus making The Gate a treat in and of itself.
I loved almost every aspect of this film and had a smile planted across my face from beginning to end. This film is just as much fun as Gremlins, Poltergeist, The Monster Squad, and I will totally be showing this to my little brats once I spit a few out in the future.
Highlights for me included the opening dream sequence, the charming cast, the practical forced-perspective effects, and the general sense of fun and magic the film sported from front to back. On top of that, it was fun to play a bit of “Spot the Future Quasi-Star” with small roles for Kelly Rowan and Jennifer Erwin (“Eastbound and Down”).
Plus, the dialogue had me in stitches more than a few times – with “suck my nose until my head caves in” being the creme de la creme.
Add to all of that an awesome “Wall Zombie”, an oddly funny dead dog subplot (that could have been its own stand-alone movie), and the neon purple lighting that signified the Hell just beyond the corner, and I was loving every minute of The Gate. This is a true classic and I’m shocked this flick isn’t as well-known and/or as well-loved as Gremlins or Poltergeist. Guess if Spielberg’s name had been on this as well, it would be more highly regarded.
In the end, The Gate was an utter delight from beginning to end and I found myself (lovingly) cursing my parents for not screening this film for me as a child. Sure, the hands under the bed, the eyeball in the palm, and the Barbie in the eye bits may have caused a few nights of sleeping in the living room, but it would have been well worth it as The Gate has the special sense of child-like wonder not found in most flicks.
If for some reason you’ve been putting off watching The Gate like this assh*le did for far too long, remedy that tonight. The movie is currently streaming on Shudder and I know you have an account because you’re obviously a horror fan. And by this point, you don’t have any excuse not to have a Shudder subscription.
Man, I loved The Gate.
Maybe I should check out The Gate II: The Trespassers, huh?
Well, maybe not…
The Gate is a kid-horror classic on the level of Gremlins, Poltergeist, and The Monster Squad. A must-watch for horror fans of all ages.