Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Double Bill Mini Musings: Kid-friendly frights...

The Gate & Gate II:
A while back now I recalled a couple of very hazy images from my childhood of a film I had seen a glimpse of on television, and after a long time pondering those vague visions and viewing many trailers from American PG-13 horror and fantasy flicks, I discovered that - to the best of my knowledge - the brief glimpses I could remember more-than-likely were from Gate II. Specifically it was what my 6-to-8 year old mind made of an early scene in the flick where Terry (and a rabble of rough teens) re-open the gate in the burnt out remnants of the house, which was the location of the antics in the first movie. I recall the house, its dilapidated state, a group of teens, a pinkish-purple colour and something to do with a portal having to be dealt with ... so like I said, to the best of my knowledge, the flick I was searching for all these years was Gate II ... although for some reason I'd gotten the impression there was a model version of the house involved that was somehow linked to the actual house, but I'm assuming that was a crossed wire in the old noggin.

The first flick, starring a very young Stephen Dorff, is a pretty darn fun time. It's decidedly 1980s, but in a good way, and it's a charming little horror flick suitable for the family. Most impressive however, are the practical special effects which mix stop-motion animation and forced perspective to a very impressive degree. It's like Poltergeist for kids, albeit with demons and hell rather than spooks and limbo.

While the first movie focusses very tightly on the house itself, which is subjected to a barrage of demonic goings-on in the second half (after a slow paced build up during the first half), the second movie goes for a much wider spread of locations - and explores a different approach to the titular portal to hell, namely the teens trying to use the power of the gate and of demonology for their own gain. The sequel is very different for the most part, and isn't as focussed as the first movie - although it does feature Pamela Segall as Liz (the actress later changed her name to Pamela Adlon, and can be found, 20 years later, as Marcy on Californication).

It was a weird experience coming to these movies from an incredibly vague snifter of a memory of one scene of the sequel, but it was nice to finally connect a full movie (or rather two movies) to that long-standing, yet very hazy memory. To see how an impression from childhood could suddenly come back after being forgotten for essentially 15 years, and then lead to an unguided search that eventually, a few years later, bore fruit.

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