We horror fans who grew came of age in the VHS era have a fond remembrance for our favorite sections of the old video stores we used to frequent. Some loved comedies and others made a beeline for the action movies, but I often found myself drawn to the horror section. The great thing about the video stores of years past was the democracy of display that went on there. Big budgeted horror films like POLTERGEIST were stacked up near low-budget gems like PHANTASM, EVIL DEAD and BASKET CASE. As a kid it was hard not to be drawn to the cover art of even the cheapest of horror films if it was done up properly. This lovely new Vestron Blu-ray has the same basic cover art as the old VHS tape that first caught my eye as a youngster. It's a great image and after reading the back of the box which told of a story of a couple kids who uncover what is basically a doorway to hell which will allow some demons to escape and terrorize them through their house. Young Stephen Dorff was unknown to me at the time, but he would forever be "that kid from THE GATE" from that point on. The movie stayed with me for a while after I saw it, but it wasn't until years later that I discovered that a ton of friends of mine had seen it as kids and love it too. It also wasn't until not too long after that that I discovered that the film was co-written by one of the writer/directors of one of my favorite VHS gems - MIDNIGHT MADNESS!
Let me just say that I've made many many mistakes as a parent to my young daughter (she'll be eight years old in a few months). Some of them were completely accidental and some were admittedly calculated risks. The calculated risk stuff usually has to do with showing her movies that end up not being her cup of tea. The one that I absolutely cannot seem to live down (as she is constantly reminding me) is my error of showing her THE GATE a few year back. The backstory is that she had shown an aptitude for and tendency toward enjoying some dark movies, so I made the decision (based solely on my memory of seeing the film again quite a few years prior) to show her THE GATE, thinking it would be right up her alley. I was incorrect. She wasn't ready to watch a movie like this, which at the outset I recalled being relatively kid friendly (I felt like I first saw it pretty young), but which has some elements that modern day children may be unprepared to deal with without getting creeped out. This has much to do with the special effects used on this film versus films today and how the demon creatures look and move in THE GATE. There are times when they are just small people in costumes and there are bits of stop motion animation as well as other horrifying images, but overall the movie just has a lot of very unsettling and scary looking bits throughout. Somehow I had recalled the film being more in the vein of GREMLINS, but THE GATE does not have the same level of levity that GREMLINS does and the effect was that my daughter was rather frightened and traumatized by the film. Funnily enough, she never asked to stop watching it (which she had in the past if anything became too much for her) so she sat through the whole thing and only told me later how much it had scared her. I felt terrible of course, but I honestly felt it wasn't as terrifying as it must have seemed to her. I do think that my having been used to more films with practical effects like these must have colored my viewpoint and though I had certainly shown her other films with such effects, there was just something about this movie that really stuck with her. To this day, she still mentions it as something she will never watch again and I hope that isn't the case because I do genuinely think it is a great little monster movie from the 1980s and I'd love her to be able to enjoy it again at some point when she's a little older. I don't relay this story to demonstrate my irresponsible actions as a parent or to in any way discourage anyone from watching the movie (I love it-it's great), but to further illustrate the impact of practical special effects versus computer generated stuff. This argument has been ongoing for some time and I have more or less given myself over to the fact that CG is what we mostly have to look forward to now (as much as I personally embrace the older style), but clearly these things can make a difference in the lasting impact a movie can have, even some thirty years after the fact.
-With Director Tibor Takacs, Writer Michael Nankin, and Special Effects Designer & Supervisor Randall William Cook
-With Special Effects Designer & Supervisor Randall William Cook, Special Make-Up Effects Artist Craig Reardon, Special Effects Artist Frank Carere, and Matte Photographer Bill Taylor
-Isolated Score Selections and Audio Interview with Composers Michael Hoenig and J. Peter Robinson
-"The Gate: Unlocked"
-"From Hell It Came"
-"The Workman Speaks!"
-"Made in Canada"
-"From Hell: The Creatures & Demons of The Gate"
-"Making of The Gate"
-Original Teaser Trailer
-Original Theatrical Trailer
-Behind-the-Scenes Still Gallery
Buy THE GATE on Blu-ray Here: