Forgotten Sequel GATE II Conjures More Monsters and Magic, New on Blu

Ripe for rediscovery, the effects-filled VHS-era follow-up hits home video from Scream Factory

The 1987 Canadian horror film The Gate, about a group of children who accidentally open a portal to hell in their backyard while their parents are away, has become a beloved cult classic. This is in a large part thanks to its memorable minion characters — pint-sized stop-motion animated demons that terrorize our young heroes. The Gate taps into childhood fears of what lurks at home, as well as the tiny terrors trend of films like Gremlins and Ghoulies.

Its 1992 sequel, however, barely made an impact with its small theatrical run and video release, and has languished in obscurity for a quarter-century. Thanks to Scream Factory, viewers will get their first chance in ages to revisit Gate II as it skips DVD altogether and is resurrected straight to Blu-ray.

Once again helmed by original director Tibor Takács, the sequel centers on Terry (Louis Tripp), the misanthropic, nerdy neighbor kid from the original film. Still obsessed with magic and the occult, he returns to the destroyed Gate House to entreat the forces of evil to supernaturally aid his depressed, unemployed Dad. His seance is interrupted by some other neighbor kids who also sneak into the house, accidentally releasing a lone minion into the world.

The four teens — including ultra-cute Liz (Pamela Segall), her bullying boyfriend John (James Villemaire), and his loser pal Moe (Simon Reynolds) — become intertwined with the hell-minion’s wish-granting abilities, entreating it for material favors only for the wishes to backfire. Meanwhile, a rift develops as Terry and Liz become friends and John and Moe’s darker, greedier personalities are consumed by the evil of the Gate, corrupting them even further and transforming them into its servants.

Gate II’s “Monkey’s Paw” style story is instantly more familiar and less gripping than the original film, and the promotion of a dorky, somewhat unlikable supporting character to the starring role was a gamble at best, but core group of teens in the sequel is both different and interesting in that it introduces both a love interest and human villains. Segall’s Liz is perhaps the linchpin in the casting — both adorable and charming, she helps soften the rough edge of having a doofus like Terry as a protagonist. You can absolutely see why both he and John, who have nothing else in common, are smitten with her.

Like the original film, Gate II boasts incredible practical effects. The effects work bringing the Minion to life, which is documented in the disc’s special features, is especially impressive, and the movement and expressiveness of the tiny creature is astounding mix of stop motion, live action, and forced-perspective trickery.

The film again ends with a huge phantasmagorical, supernatural sequence involving the forces of evil surrounding the hellgate, this time involving the transformations of the characters into demon-like creatures as they fight its influence. It’s kooky and over-the-top, with an even greater infusion of fantasy elements than the original film.

While neither as scary nor as polished as its predecessor, Gate II is nevertheless a monster-packed blast with incredible creature effects, and fans of the original should definitely seek it out.

The Package

Gate II arrives on Blu-ray from Scream Factory on February 27th. The release features reversible cover art (though it doesn’t have a slipcover, which may disappoint fans who own the Vestron Blu-ray release of The Gate).

A key question when reviewing any VHS-era horror movie is how good it looks after the HD upgrade after years of existence as essentially a tape transfer. I’m happy to report that Gate II’s visuals are right along the same lines of quality of the original film and look terrific in high definition, particularly the effects work and makeup.

Special Features and Extras

  • NEW 2K scan of the interpositive
  • NEW Return to the Nightmare: A Look Back at GATE II (27:21) — featuring interviews with director Tibor Takacs, screenwriter Michael Nankin, and special visual effects creator Randall William Cook
  • NEW From the Depths (14:46) — an interview with make-up effects artist Craig Reardon
  • Trailer (1:10) — identified on package as “Theatrical Trailer” but it’s clearly a home video ad.
  • Video Promo (1:41) — EPK ad directed at home video rental stores
  • Video Store Contest promo (2:10) —cassette-sourced audio ad geared toward rental providers
  • Still Gallery (4:37)

A/V Out.

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Except where noted, all 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the disc(s) in question with no editing applied, but may have slight compression inherent to file formats. All package photography was taken by the reviewer.

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