Gate II: Trespassers
I’d seen ‘Gate II’ once during its very brief theatrical run. I remember walking out of the theater feeling… well not feeling much of anything at the time. The original Gate was near and dear to my dorky teenage horror loving heart, so it was probably folly to think that the sequel would be able to capture the isolation and private horrors of being a suburban kid home alone all the time. Not to mention at 15, I was looking for darker fare, and both Gate movies fall squarely in the realm of kid’s adventure stories, not unlike ‘The Goonies’ (1985) or Explorers (1985), just with a touch of demons and magic rather than pirates or aliens.
The film picks up a few years after the events of ‘The Gate’. The house were Glen (Stephen Dorff in the original) lived is still a wreck and he’s long since moved away. Glen’s friend Terry (Louis Tripp) takes center stage in this movie, and he’s using Glen’s house to preform magic rituals (that involve the usual trappings as well as a computer, lasers and a sound system). In this case his ritual is to implore interdimensional demons to help his dad get a job. His ritual is interrupted by some local toughs, John (James Villemaire), Moe (Simon Reynolds) and Liz (Pamela Segall), but Terry still manages to succeed in summoning one of the tiny minions from the first film. He soon discovers that the minion can grant wishes but there is a price. Liz offers to help him send it back through the gate but not before Moe and John get a hold of it. Terry and Liz now have to try get the minion back before awful things come pouring through the gate.
Taken a sequel to ‘The Gate’, ‘The Gate II’ is a bit of a mess. There’s none of the growing menace, or the slow and steady rising tension as each supernatural encounter gets more intense and dangerous. Although Terry’s dad’s life is kicked around by his son's fooling with the minion, nothing really feels at stake.
Taken on its own, ‘Gate II’ is a fun and fairly breezy adventure. Terry is a likeable character, and the movie goes a long way to portray him as sympathetic. His main antagonist John is a meathead, but there’s very little to him beyond that.
The special effects are definitely a mixed bag. Some of the forced perspective shots with the minion are fantastic, while a lot of the matte work is sub par at best. Sadly, the big demon makeup is uninspired and the stop motion lacks the care and detail that made the monster at the end of the original so memorable. I do appreciate any movie that tries to stretch its bounds, so credit to the filmmakers when the third act takes the characters to a cost effective but very well realized hellscape.
‘The Gate II’ is an essentially weightless exercise in late 80’s style horror comedy. It’s not a great film I’m not even sure it’s a good one, but I do think it deserves more credit than it gets.