Retro-review: New on Bluray from The Shout Factory; help me out and pick it up on DVD/BluRay here on Amazon!


Directed by Tibor Takács
Written by Michael Nankin
Starring Louis Tripp, Simon Reynolds, James Villemaire, Pamela Adlon, Neil Munro, James Kidnie

It’s not often in horror that the director of the original returns for a second go around with a sequel, but that’s exactly what Tibor Takacs did with THE GATE. Being a fan of the original, since I was just about Stephen Dorff’s age, I can’t believe I missed THE GATE II when it was released in 1990. I guess it didn’t get a wide release and I must have missed it at the video store, since THE GATE II eluded me all those years until it was recently re-relesased by The Shout Factory. While it isn’t as good as the original, it still has a lot of what made the original film such a wild ride.

Picking up not long after the original film ends, Stephen Dorff’s Glen and his family have moved away, but his neighbor and best friend Terry (Louis Tripp) is still dabbling in the dark arts, playing his heavy metal records backwards, and doing incantations in the midnight hours. With Terry’s father still having problems with the drink, his job as an airplane pilot has been terminated. Terry will give anything to have his father back on track, so he once again calls out to an infernal dimension for help. And once again, little troll people are more than willing to skitter through this portal and make Terry’s life hell. When a trio of kids (including a very young Pamela Adlon from LOUIE and BETTER THINGS) stumble upon Terry in the middle of casting his spell and find themselves caught into the curse as well. At first, the kids’ dreams come true, but soon they find with each wish, comes a curse that is truly monstrous.

The story of THE GATE II is nowhere near as boppy and fun as the original. While the original had some heavy themes with Terry longing to see his dead mother and a dead carpenter trapped in the walls of the house, it had a fun imagination and quick pace that really made it a blast to experience. This one relies simply on the little minion monsters, some key characters turning into human sized versions of the creatures, and one big beastie at the end. The pace is a bit slower and more predictable. It’s basically a watered down version of the original, which is pretty much what horror sequels were like in the eighties anyway.

Once again, Randall Cook took care of the effects work in THE GATE II and it’s fun to see the consistent mix of practical and stop motion effects at play here that were so prevalent in the original. These effects are the highlight of the film and while the imagination might not be as potent in this film, the effects (something that was a highlight in the original film) is still top notch.

I’d definitely recommend this film to anyone who enjoyed the original THE GATE. While it’s not as good, it was fun returning to this world. The acting is rough. Louis Tripp is no Stephen Dorff, yet he does a decent job in the lead. Pamela Adlon is super young here and it’s fun seeing her in what is probably one of her first roles. But really, you don’t seek out THE GATE II for acting. You’re there for a fun story and fantastic effects and this one delivers, for the most part.

This Shout Factory edition features; a new Return To The Nightmare – A Look Back At Gate II – featurette with interviews with director Tibor Takacs, screenwriter Michael Nankin and Special Visual Effects Creator Randall William Cook, a new From The Depths – an interview with Make-up Effects Artist Craig Reardon, a theatrical trailer, a video promo and video store contest promo, and a still gallery.