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Film / The Gate

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The Gate is a 1987 Canadian horror movie directed by Tibor Takács and starring Stephen Dorff.

Three children are left home alone for the weekend. Through a set of contrived circumstances, they open a gate to hell in the backyard.

Received a sequel in 1990, title Gate II: The Trespassers.

This movie provides examples of:

  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The master demon is appropriately enormous in height.
  • Building of Adventure: Every scene occurs in or around the house.
  • Call-Back: Earlier in the movie, Terry tells Glen that a workman died while building his house years before he and his family moved in and that he was still stuck in the walls. Glen's father brushes it off a few scenes later as Terry making things up on account of struggling to deal with the recent death of his mother. Later, when a zombie busts through the wall of their house, Glen whispers, "It's the workman" but Terry quickly informs him that he made it all up.
  • Constructive Body Disposal: Invoked. In an attempt to scare Glen, Terry tells him that a workman died while building his house years before he and his family moved in and that he was still stuck in the walls. Later, when a zombie busts through the wall of their house, Glen whispers, "It's the workman" but Terry quickly informs him that he made it all up.
  • Darker and Edgier: The first film was PG-13 while the second film was rated R, mainly due to John's horrific transformation into one of the trinity demon gods.
  • Dragged Off to Hell: Heavily implied to be the case for the protagonist's sister and friend when they're dragged into the wall as well as the family dog. Defeating the main demon allows them to return to the living world.
  • Dream Intro: The film opens with the main character walking into an eerie empty house, then climbing a tree which gets struck by lightning and falls down... And then he wakes up to the sound of a tree being cleared in his backyard.
  • Everybody Lives: In part 2, Terrence, John, and Moe all come back to life at the end.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: The demons cause an eye to grow in the protagonist's hand at one point.
  • Hell Gate: The titular "Gate" is a demonic portal.
  • Honking Arriving Car: A honking car horn interrupts Alexandra and Glen while Alexandra is putting Glen's rockets in the trash. Alexandra explains to Glen that she's going out shopping with her friends. The honking is then heard again as Alexandra's friends grow friends impatient while Glen continues arguing with her. When the scene finally cuts to the friends waiting in the car, they actually start to drive away without Alexandra, before she shouts at them that she's indeed coming with them.
  • Jerkass: All of the sister's friends are this to the younger boys, either mocking them for their supposed statements of supernatural events or in the case of those who do get involved in the supernatural events don't even bother helping out the boys or their friend- hiding while they hide away. The sister gets sick of their behavior and it's implied she'll no longer hang out with them after the events of the 2nd night.
  • Knight of Cerebus: While the film was already very dark with its Mind Screw elements and the demons tormenting the heroes in disturbing ways, there's an element of Black Comedy to them. This ceases the moment the Demon Lord appears, with the imps proceeding to disappear as well to signal the change in tone. Unlike them, its presence is played as straight as possible as an ominous and imposing figure- setting up the darkest part of the story.
  • The Legions of Hell: They are described as a Lovecraftian variation rather than the archetypical Satanic ones, intent on Human Sacrifice to regain control of the world. They are manifested as small goblin-like imps that torment their victims via insanity inducing emotional torture when they're not trying to eat them outright. These goblin creatures follow an even larger creature that resembles a multiple-armed caterpillar demon with four eyes.
  • Lovecraft Lite: Somewhat. The demons are very much closer to Lovecraftian than Judeo-Christian in presentation and very nearly win, and the tone is very dark for a movie where most of the cast are minors. Said kids still manage to defeat the demons in the end.
  • Noble Demon: It's implied with the Demon Lord, as unlike the imps who torment the others via Mind Screw and Mind Rape techniques For the Evulz, it spares Glen by giving him a mark to show he will be spared now that the sacrifices were made and leaves him alone until he actively tried to undo the damage.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: The older sister doesn't believe Glen at first until the demons directly involve her and her friends in their activities.
  • Our Demons Are Different: Mostly small, hunchbacked gray imps with one huge, four-armed sloth thing leading them. They also have more Lovecraftian themes surrounding them than Satanic ones.
  • Primordial Chaos: According to the record that Terry plays, before the stars, earth, and sun- existed, were ancient beings that reigned over the chaos before that time. Their intended goal is to reclaim the earth via the sacrifice of two humans.
  • Separated from the Adults: The whole movie takes place while the parents are on vacation.
  • Shapeshifter Guilt Trip: The demons appear as the parents seconds after they first arrive. They break their disguise before they even speak, but all they ever say is "YOU'VE BEEN BAAAAAD!".
  • Shoo Away The Clowns: The sister's friends leave the story before the darker events of the finale.
    • In a more subtle way, the imps who are darkly sinister with their pranks disappear once the much more intimidating and dangerous Demon Lord appears, setting the most intense part of the film.
  • Subliminal Seduction: Inverted. The record is openly occult and is actually part of the coincidence that summons the demons. Playing it backwards provides the spell to banish them.
  • Unexpectedly Real Magic: Some boys find a record with a recording of a demonic chant. They think it's amusing, and play the record. Because of multiple elements in place, the chant actually opens up a Hell Gate.
  • You Will Be Spared: Implied when the Demon Lord proceeds to give Glen a marking and leaves him alone- not sacrificing him like the others.

Alternative Title(s): The Gate II