The Gate

(Tibor Takács, 15 May 1987)

“In a time before the earth, before the sun, before the light of the stars… when all was darkness and chaos…the old gods, the forgotten gods, ruled the darkness…”

Released on this day in 1987, Tibor Takács’ directorial debut got somewhat minor attention upon release, although it’s most certainly developed cult notoriety. A story of suburban boredom, heavy metal darkness (and, admittedly, “dorkness”), and teens left alone only to be torn asunder by demonic peril, THE GATE is a creature-feature which still casts an alluring spell and unabashedly rules our world.

There’s an aesthetic at work here that’s effortlessly charming — the score, party scenes, time-capsule fashions, the use of stop-motion animation, the “metal summoning evil forces” premise, and the characterizations of the teens involved (not to mention that they essentially carry the entire film) — and though some argue that it hasn’t aged particularly well, it remains beloved by many genre fans. The VHS box art and theatrical one-sheet were so magnetically enticing, beckoning “Rent me!” from the aisles of Video-To-Go. Oh, and how we did. We damn near ran the tape thin and the one-sheet still proudly adorns the walls of our Clubhouse Crypt. In many ways, THE GATE seems a film that the nostalgic visual-orgy that is Netflix’s STRANGER THINGS owes a great debt to, despite not seeming to be a title overtly trumpeted by the show-runners. Regardless, THE GATE swings for the fences of childhood tomfoolery, and pays in spades. The Randy Cook-designed minions are pure magic, continuing to effectively enthrall one’s imagination. Takács explains that “Randy used an encyclopedia of techniques to make them work. Bluescreen, trick perspective, stop-motion, puppets etc, were all used in rotation; once you think you have it figured out we introduce another technique. Another process used was to under-crank so they’d appear to move a little more furtively.” And that looming, Workman entombed with the walls? He still terrifies. 

This one rates as par excellence for “gateway horror” and our mission of SAVING HORROR ONE KID AT A TIME. So today we celebrate that time we accidentally summoned demons who used to rule the universe…And, yeah, we found out about it from, uh, one of Terry’s albums. All that’s left to do is head out to the backyard and fire off some rockets. We’ve got dibs on The Thunderbolt!