Louis Tripp and Stephen Dorff in The Gate (1987)

An Oak Gate

When his father has the old oak tree removed from the back garden, young Glen (Stephen Dorff) uncovers a Geode which when his friend Terry (Louis Tripp) sees insists they are worth a fortune and starts digging up the hole which has been filled in. When his parents have to go away for a few days they leave Glen's sister Al (Christa Denton) in charge whilst Terry stays with them. But it seems that when Glen and Terry dug into where the tree was they have opened up a gateway to something sinister and now they have a battle on their hands from the evil below.

"I guess you had to be there to understand it" that is what someone once said to me when they were taking about the hippy culture of the 60s. That sort of sentiment can also be often used for movies as whilst my love of movies started in the 80s I never saw "The Gate" then. In fact it was 25 years after its release when I first got to see a young Stephen Dorff being terrorized by the tiny demons which come from a whole in his garden and it did little for me. But I am sure those who experienced it as teenagers back in the late 80s still have warm memories of it. As such, whilst 80s horror movies such as "A Nightmare on Elm Street" are known and still enjoyed by newer generations movies such as "The Gate" really only work for those who as I said watched it when they were teenagers back in the 80s.

Christa Denton in The Gate (1987)

The thing about "The Gate" is that it feels like it takes an age to get going as it delivers a series of scenes to establish Glen and Al along with Terry being home alone, the smelly hole in the garden and the death of the family dog who gets a really poor send off, falling out of a car on to the floor. It tries to create atmosphere with some semi creepy things going on such as the green smoke which comes out of the hole and a bolt on a door moving on its own as well as a vision for Terry but all it is is creepy stuff rather than real atmosphere building stuff. It is not until halfway and a scene involving moths and Glen's window that it eventually kicks in with some 80s face melting horror and plenty of screams as well as some entertaining little monsters.

The thing is that whilst "The Gate" didn't wow me, especially during the first half the second half did and so did the performances in this half. Considering Stephen Dorff was barely a teen when he made this he is ridiculously confident and works well with Louis Tripp who as Terry is a bit of a bespectacled stereotype. They along with Christa Denton manage to deliver the nonsense of the second half with the innocence of youth so that you kind of sit back and reminisce to a time when your imagination would run wild with the thoughts of monsters under the bed and critters who live in tunnels.

What this all boils down to is that "The Gate" didn't blow me away but I am sure that is down to not seeing it as a child during the 80s. But at the same time it was enjoyable with that aspect of childhood adventure which transcends time.