Overlooked Horror Films – “The Gate”

The Gate

When I was six years old my mother decided to throw a fancy dinner party. My father was given the duty of finding some place to put me that night, be it babysitter or otherwise. Not wanting to trouble himself with finding a babysitter he did what any reasonable male figure would; set up a television and vcr in my room, put on a movie and simply locked the door. Oh, where’s little Kevin? Meh. I rented something for him to watch, he should be fine.

The movie he chose was called “The Gate”. This, in my opinion, may be the most terrifying movie ever made if you’re six years old. It may also be one of his worst parental decisions, and like H.G.’s post earlier this week, resulted in a furious mother and a father who threw up his hands and said, “Hey, how was I supposed to know it’d give the boy nightmares?”

The premise of The Gate is simple: while left home alone for the weekend, a young boy and his friend inadvertently open the door to hell resulting in their once-cozy home becoming the gateway through which violent creatures murder his big sister, his best friend, his dog, and leave him alone to wear the mark in a world of darkness and eternal suffering. In fairness to my dad, what six-year-old would get scared by that?

For a child, this movie really does touch on every one of your basic fears. And what’s more, like all great cult movies it goes from A to B, B to C, and then C to &#?!!!  By the third act, if the creative minds behind this film could think of it they filmed it. While looking for a gun to defend himself, the young boy reaches into the closet and has his hand bitten by the severed head of his best friend. Screaming in pain, he breaks free only to find his hand has now grown a wandering eye which he must cut out using a shard of broken glass. While cowering in the corner with his big sister, a construction worker breaks from inside the wall of their home and lumbers over to the pair, grabbing the sister by the ankle and dragging her into hell while she screams in terror. Ding-dong! Is somebody at the door? Hey kid, your parents came home. And just in time. They’ll know what to AWWW FUCK MY DAD IS STRANGLING ME!! (This is followed by the mother laughing with delight at her son’s torment while the father’s face sloughs from his skull, hits the ground and becomes infested with crawling maggots.

Although marketed as strictly “kiddie horror”, it’s difficult to justify considering the content. The hell back story revolves around the underground thrash movement of the 80’s. Brought in are the old “play this record backwards” myths as well as some of the Norwegian black metal legends regarding human sacrifice and dismemberment. My guess is that this was intended for an older audience, cast a little too young, and when they realized that no teenager would want to see a movie about a couple of 12-year-olds they simply skewed the advertisements as some farcical ghost story and rented it to my dad.

I slept in their room for three months after. The film stars a young Stephen Dorff and was followed by a sequel which had little or nothing to do with the original. Supposedly Alex Winter has been chosen to direct a third film shot in 3-D. Now a whole new generation can have something to talk about years later when they’re in rehab.

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