The Gate

Rated PG-13 92 minutes 1987

Juveniles discover gateway to hell in suburban backyard. As supernatural thrillers go, this 1987 release is excessively well mannered, as if Canadian director Tibor Takacs (a specialist in children's fantasy fare) and screenwriter Michael Nankin (whose 1978 Junior High School finds some innocuous echoes here) had deliberately set out to prove that disreputable genres can be responsible, too, like prematurely tamed Reagan-era kiddies. Takacs does an honest, albeit prosaic job of creating careful, craftsmanly surfaces, but archetypal terror is beyond his emotional range, and he never manages to bring the material vividly to life. The neglectful 80s parents make an obligatory appearance (mom and dad take a weekend breather, and the demons rush the house while they're gone), though Takacs lets them off the hook early (surprising, given the respectable emphases here) and the rest is tasteful, measured helpings of Harryhausen-ish effects. With Stephen Dorff, Christa Denton, Louis Tripp, Scot Denton, and Deborah Grover.

Film Credits

Director: Tibor Tak√°cs

Writer: Michael Nankin

Producer: Andras Hamori, John Kemeny and Robert Lantos

Cast: Stephen Dorff, Christa Denton, Louis Tripp, Kelly Rowan, Jennifer Irwin, Deborah Grover and Scot Denton

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