Hi everyone, Bryan here…
The 1980s were very good to us horror buffs in the form of films. We were introduced to Freddy Krueger, Pinhead, Re-Animator, John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing‘, ‘The Shining‘, ‘Child’s Play‘, ‘The Lost Boys‘ and the wonderful world of ‘Evil Dead‘ to name just a few. I guess you could say that the 80’s gave us some of the very BEST horror films ever made. One of the 80’s horror films that is just as good and as fun as the above mentioned movies, but rarely gets a mention is the 1986 film ‘The Gate‘, directed by Tibor Takacs.
This film has some very scary moments, but also has some funny moments that fit right in with the 1980’s vibe. I think what made this film so popular and conjured up an instant cult status was that it followed a group of young kids, who get to housesit for their parents for the first time. Of course there are parties, sleepovers, and fun. Then there is a part where the gates of hell open up, which causes the siblings and friends to stick together and survive. Sometimes, ‘The Gate‘ is talked about unfavorably for it’s nicely wrapped up ending, but then again, you’re dealing with young kids, and you can’t have a sinister ending where everyone dies. It’s not that type of film, although it has some fairly horrific scenes throughout.
The film follows a young kid named Glen (Stephen Dorff) and his older sister Al as they are left to look after the house after their parents go on a trip. Al throws a party while Glen has his best friend Terry over for a sleep over. After finding a crystal rock in the backyard and listening to a heavy metal album that supposedly brings upon the gates of hell, evil demons and monsters start terrorizing Glen, Al, and Terry. This was also at the height of practical effects, so all of the little demons are real people in costumes or puppets with almost no CG effects.
These practical effects go a long way and still holds up after all these years. Sure, there are some cheesy moments and some laughable story plots, but it’s all overshadowed by the scary moments here, which all work to a flawless effect. Dorff is perfect here and cemented his career in the entertainment business. He plays the young Glen with a realistic charm, but also heroic bravery. It’s damn good. ‘The Gate‘ still holds up after all these years as one of the best and most fun horror films of the 1980s.
The Video: ‘The Gate‘ comes with a 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This is a great video upgrade, but it’s not without its faults though. The image is much crisper and clearer now, even in the many lower lit scenes. Detail is sharp and vivid, showcasing excellent facial features, makeup effects, and creature effects very well. Just look at the dead man in the wall and all of his decaying oddities on his body. The nasty gash wounds look great as well in each scene. Wider shots provide depth and clear action as well. Colors look good here too, and pop off screen when in well lit exteriors or with the bright yellow cabinetry in the kitchen, but other than that, colors don’t really pop all that well. There is a nice layer of grain, keeping with the nostalgic filmic quality of the 1980s, but it can get heavy at times. Black levels are mostly deep and inky and the skin tones are natural. There is still some dirt, debris, warps, and scratches throughout, as well as some minor banding and video noise, but still, this is an good upgrade from previous releases.
The Audio: This release comes with the original lossless DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo mix. There is not a 5.1 mix available unfortunately, which could have been an awesome option, considering all of the little monsters running around or eerie noises from within the house. The 2.0 track though is robust and full with every nuanced sound effect coming through full and life-like. There is some decent directionality here as well. The score always adds to the suspense of the film and never drowns out any other noise. Dialogue is clear and easy to follow, and free of any pops, cracks, hiss, or shrills. There is a decent low end at the house party, but otherwise that’s about it. I really hoped for a full fledged 5.1 option here, because it could have been excellent.
There are a ton of extras here, however, they are not that great. Most of them are just talking head interviews with clips of the film added in. Also, there are ZERO new or vintage interviews with any of the main actors, which is unfortunate.
Audio Commentary #1 – Director Tibor Takacs, Writer Michael Nankin, and Special Effects Designer & Supervisor Randall William Cook deliver a decent and fun commentary track, as they discuss making the film. The three have fond memories of it too, as they are honest with the silliness and mistakes that were made, as well as how much fun they had. The deliver technical details, casting information, and how the practical effects were done. This is quite fun.
Audio Commentary #2 – Special Effects Designer & Supervisor Randall William Cook, Special Make-Up Effects Artist Craig Reardon, Special Effects Artist Frank Carere, and Matte Photographer Bill Taylor talk about all of the visual effects here and how they accomplished the more difficult shots. It’s quite engaging and fun. Again, definitely worth the listen.
Audio Commentary #3 – Composers Michael Hoenig and J. Peter Robinson talk about scoring the film with this isolated score only track and how they came up with the music.
‘The Gate’: Unlocked (HD, 28 Mins.) – A decent sized dual interview with Special Effects master Randall William Cook and director Tibur Takacs in which they discuss coming together on the film, working, production, and how the actual shoot was. Clips and production photos are added in as well.
Minion Maker (HD, 23 Mins.) – Special Makeup Effects Artist Craig Reardon talks about making all the creatures for the film here with production photos and clips of the film added in.
From Hell It Came (HD, 13 Mins.) – Producer Andras Hamori discusses his time working on ‘The Gate’ and how he boarded the project. Clips and production photos are added in here.
The Workman Speaks! (HD, 13 Mins.) – Actor Carl Kraines, who plays the dead man in the wall talks about getting made up to play the zombie and acting on screen with the kids. Production photos and clips are added here.
Made in Canada (HD, 29 Mins.) – On November 12, 2016, some of the local cast and crew that is located in Canada talk about making ‘The Gate’. None of the big names nor any of the main stars are here. There are some fun stories from the set and of how each of them became involved in the project. Production photos and clips from the film are added.
From Hell: The Creatures and Demons of ‘The Gate’ (HD, 15 Mins.) – This is an extra imported over from the DVD release from a few years ago with some of the crew talking about how they made the creatures and demons for the film.
The Gatekeepers (HD, 16 Mins.) – Yet another extra that was imported from the DVD release where the writer and filmmakers talk about making the movie.
Making of ‘The Gate’ (SD, 23 Mins.) – A vintage made-for-tv behind the scenes featurette from 1986. This has interviews with the writers, producers, director, and special effects team, along with long clips of the film added in. There are no interviews with any of the actors here. The video quality is piss poor as well.
Trailers (SD, 4 Mins.) – There are three different trailers for the film all of which are poor video quality, but are still quite fun to watch.
Storyboard Gallery (HD, 10 Mins.) – Some storyboards from certain scenes in the film are shown here in slideshow format with the score in the background.
Behind the Scenes Gallery (HD, 11 Mins.) – Some production photos and behind the scene photos are shown here with the score of the film in the background.
THE ULTIMATE WORD
Lionsgate and Vestron Video are trying to jump on the bandwagon that Scream Factory has been doing well with their Collector Edition horror Blu-rays. ‘The Gate‘ is #8 in the Vestron/Lionsgate team-up, which they dub similarly Collector’s Series. Unfortunately, the video and audio presentations here aren’t top notch. That’s not to say they aren’t any good, because they are, it’s just that this presentation isn’t on par with the Scream Factory editions. That goes for the bonus features as well. Sure, there are a ton of them here, but they aren’t that great. They don’t even have any extras with any of the main actors here. The film is still amazing and holds up after all these years though. This is probably the BEST edition of the film we will have for a while, so this comes FOR FANS ONLY, even though it could have been a better release.
Also, if you want to charge $40 for a Blu-ray, it better be of Criterion quality. This is way too expensive. Drop the price please.
FOR FANS ONLY!