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‘The Gate’ Is an Under-Appreciated Horror Gem from the ‘80s

By  · Published on March 5th, 2017

And now it’s also the best of Vestron Video’s Collector’s Series Blu-rays.

Vestron Video’s recent rebirth via newly remastered Blu-rays loaded with new supplements is only five months and eight titles deep, but while they’ve had some strong releases ‐ Chopping Mall and the Waxwork double feature stand out ‐ their latest is easily their best. The Gate is a better-than-you-remembered horror gem from 1986, and the new Blu is overflowing with interesting and informative extras.

Glen (Stephen Dorff) and Terry (Louis Tripp) each have their peculiarities ‐ the former’s a fearful kid, and the latter loves heavy metal perhaps a bit too much ‐ but the pair are best friends all the same. After a storm leaves a big tree uprooted in Glen’s backyard the boys discover a deep hole sitting beneath it. As is often the case, one thing leads to another and soon the kids, including Glen’s older sister and her friends, find themselves in big trouble from little demons.

Part of the joy of The Gate is seeing a film so clearly aimed at the family-friendly genre market (Critters, The Goonies, etc) delivering some truly dark and thrilling moments. It’s every bit the kids horror film The Monster Squad is, but instead of playing to classic horror characters, comedy, and nostalgia director Tibor Takacs (Gate 2: The Trespassers, I Madman) actually delivers some real horror here. Themes of loss and isolation share the screen with physical violence and the creepy undead, and while there are some laughs to be found the general tone is of a dark and deadly adventure.

Writer Michael Nankin (Midnight Madness, Russkies) sets up a portal to hell tale that goes well beyond the typical demons and possession to include not only emotional horror beats but also some good old-fashioned monsters. As fun as watching Dorff’s most energetic performance is, the creatures and creature-effect designers are the real stars here. It’s the ’80s, so of course we get some optical work, but the real strength is in the film’s terrific use of stop-motion, practical effects, and giant-sized sets (to make the little monsters seem so damn little).

The Gate remains a pit-full of fun thanks to engaging characters, terrifically creepy visuals, and plenty of still-great effects sequences. It’s a solid little horror film, and happily its Blu debut sees it paired with a kick-ass home video presentation.

Vestron’s newly remastered Blu-ray looks great, and the film’s fantastic effects come through bright and clear. The disc features trailers, galleries, and:

The Gate [Blu-ray]

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.