Why You Should Own Scream Factory's THE GATE II
In the horror business once a little gem of a movie makes mad bank there’s usually a gaggle of producers at the ready to capitalize on the love of said gem and sequelize it. This can lead to some crazy twists and turns in the mythos of that universe and while some of these sequels seem soulless and tarnish the glint of the original a bit there are some that go batshit crazy off the rails or take complete turns away from what the original was. In this case, you have the creative trio of Randal William Cook (Special FX) Michael Nankin (Writer) and Tibor Takacs (Director) who turned a small budget into cult classic horror gold with The Gate. The Gate is one of those movies that you use to ease your kids into the horror genre. It’s meaner than, say The Monster Squad or Monster House but is still considered a gateway horror flick. Best friends Glen and Terry discover a hole in Glen's backyard that is a portal to hell and hundreds of little monsters come out of it to terrorize them alongside visions of utter horror. It's a really awesome little film with amazing FX and for years I've wanted to check out the sequel. It's the same filmmaking trio that struck gold once before, so I knew no matter what it would be an interesting watch, however, unfortunately, it's never had a home video release until now. Thanks to the folks at Scream Factory I was finally able to watch The Gate II in all its glory with special features made by Beyond The Gates own Jackson Stewart! A lot of people do not like this film, but as I watched it and it's premise unfold, I appreciated and loved the totally different approach. I'm going to tell you why Scream Factory's The Gate II is a must-own for your collection!
While The Gate was a special FX extravaganza, The Gate II took an interesting turn as a character piece. Nankin states in the retrospective on the Blu-Ray that he wanted to take the sequel into new territory and since the characters would age then so too should the movie’s mindset. A young child surviving a traumatic experience battling demons being plagued by those memories. We see at the end of a lot of these fun 80's monster flicks that the kids tend to live happily ever after, but what scars are left? The Gate II explores those scars, which in of itself is an amazing turn, but also where most sequels try to amplify the action this film amplified the characters drives and depth. This is not the sequel people wanted, but one that has so much merit. This concept of the aftermath already had me hooked and as the film goes on I really started to care more about these characters that to me in the original film we're just a reason to see kick-ass demons.
In the original film, Terry has been already a very lonely kid having lost his mother and barely seeing his father. Glen was his last tether to the normalcies of life as when he wasn’t with Glen he basked in the fantastical ideas of the demonic in his metal music. Like most kids into metal, it was an escape from the mundane and an outlet for anger. Once Glen had left, Terry had to be left with the memory of their experiences and nothing else. Having lost his mother, he then lost his best friend after experiencing the most fantastical night of his life. That night not only was the manifestation of his metal fantasies come true but also his last memory of his best friend. Growing from the carefree days as a child in the eighties to a teenager having to mentally support his unemployed father in the nineties. Constantly staring at the remnants of his dream come true and his happiest days just across the street. Yearning to have that back and more. It is said surviving death makes you feel more alive and it is that rush he seeks along with promises of fortunes to come. It’s something we all go through losing our childhood and Terry completely lost it and gained the mythical dreams he yearned for simultaneously. Comparatively, it's just like the music industry. The Gate was the fun hair metal stage, whereas The Gate II was upon the precipice of grunge.
The Gate is famously FX driven, with some of the best and first forced perspective shots and stop-motion to bring the creatures known as "minions" to life. The FX still stands against a lot of contemporary CGI films as superior. Just as the action was scaled down for dialogue the FX was dialed down for more intimate shots. The first film is chock full of minions running around doing all kinds of things, whereas the sequel adheres to one minion that is focused on and developed throughout the film. Nankin really shined with that one minion though with the best-forced perspective shots and even enhanced the movements and believability of the creature itself. There are so many scenes where the characters interact with that minion, grab him, fight him and it looks spectacular. As much as I love the gaggle of minions in the original the focus on the one and the FX behind its lifelike performance are amazing to watch. Besides the minion, we are also graced with a pretty cool finale complete with a large trio of demons. Now it's not exactly what the filmmakers wanted, but for all you practical FX monster fans, it's a lot of fun and if you liked the giant demon at the end of The Gate, then you'll love the new stop-motion demon near the end of the film.
The Gate II is a smaller film, which displeased audiences expecting the same insanity you would get from most horror sequels, but that made the filmmakers construct and perfect so many little genius things that make this a worthwhile watch and worthy film in your collection. What makes this so special is it really goes against the norm in horror, especially at the time when sequels were being pumped out with no regard for enhancing anything. You could never touch The Gate but its sequel gives you something more and on its own stands as a really interesting and thoughtful fun movie. Would I have liked the insane ending that the filmmakers had originally intended with giant flying monsters? Sure, but I got a concept I hadn't seen before and enough stop motion and rubber-suited monsters to really satiate my love for this kind of horror film. I take a chance on almost every Scream Factory release they put out, but this has been my favorite blind purchase in recent years.