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Old 10-11-2008, 11:24 AM
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Gate, The (Broadcast)





Reviewer: Dave
Review Date: October 9, 2008

Released by: *Satellite Broadcast*
Release date: 2008
NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes



Everyone that has read my reviews probably knows by now that I'm a sucker for 80s horror. As a child of the 80s, it was the likes of Jason Vorhees, Michael Myers, and Freddy Krueger that introduced me to the horror genre. I grew up with those icons, along with other 80s classics such as The Monster Squad, Fright Night, Saturday the 14th, and so on. While many of these 80s horror flicks are genuinely good, my opinion remains jaded due to a huge nostalgia factor. When the chance to review The Gate came along, I jumped at the opportunity based solely on the fact that I've never seen the movie. More importantly, I never saw the movie during my childhood. There's no nostalgia factor here, which makes me anxious to watch it and see if my opinion changes.

Some readers may be complain about a review of a high def. broadcast, but this wouldn't be the first time. I did it once before with Night of the Creeps, which most enjoyed. While it is disappointing that The Gate isn't available on DVD (excluding the now OOP P&S disc), a review like this may stir up interest and get some discussion going both here and other horror boards around the net.

Lets take a look at The Gate and see if it manages to impress, sans nostalgia.

The Story

inline Image A young boy by the name of Glen (Stephen Dorff) wakes from a nightmare and hears chainsaws going in the back of his home. An old, rotten tree is being removed from the yard. When Glen's friend Terry (Louis Tripp) arrives, the two discover a geode out in the work area. Terry convinces Glen to dig some holes in search of more geodes, claiming they can make some money by selling them. What they dig up is the entrance to a demon world, though the two don't realize what they've unearthed. The entrance isn't fully open and won't be unless several steps to an ancient ritual are completed.

inline Image Glen's parents are going away for the weekend and they leave Glen's sister Al (Christa Denton) in charge. With his parents gone and his sister busy with friends, Glen and Terry manage to crack open the geode. A stream of gas escapes and several words appear on an etch-a-sketch. Glen reads the words aloud, completing the first step of the ritual. The two head downstairs where Glen becomes a guinea pig for a levitation experiment that Al and her friends perform. They're able to get Glen to levitate, and unknowingly complete step two of the ritual.

inline Image After a night of dead mothers and dogs, the last step of the incantation is soon completed. When Terry returns to his home, he discovers a vinyl record that contains information about the gateway and the terrors on the other side, just waiting to be released. Terry and Glen use the record and its notes to reveal clues about what is happening, only they are too late to stop it. Once the last step of the ritual is inadvertently completed, the gateway opens and the small monsters within are unleashed upon the world. When Terry and Al are sucked into the gate, Glen is left alone to face the monsters and find a way to save the world. He gets more than he bargained for when a giant demon lord rises from the gate for a final showdown.

inline Image Maybe I'm alone, or maybe other reviewers do the same, but when I'm watching a movie for review, I start to form thoughts and statements inside my head for eventual use in the review. About half way through The Gate, I was convinced I had a stinker on my hands. The pacing was slow, the acting poor, and there was no gore, monsters, or nudity to keep it bearable. These were all things I made mental notes to complain about in the review. Those are indeed legitimate complaints, but before I could get too far in my mental note taking, something happened. The movie started to get good. The pace quickened, a zombie appeared, followed by miniature creeps, a giant vortex, hell being unleashed onto the earth, and a giant demon lord appeared! Good stuff indeed.

inline Image Many might recognize a young Stephen Dorff, probably best known among horror fans for his role as Deacon Frost in the first Blade movie. Stephen hadn't quite developed his acting skills for The Gate, but does manage to give a passable performance. The rest of the performances range from mediocre to downright awful. Director Tibor Takács continues to direct to this day but remains relatively unknown. Bonus points to director Tibor Takács and actor Louis Tripp (Terry) for appearing in Gate II: Trespassers, which is officially on my 'to see' list.

inline Image The effects in The Gate are decent if you consider it's a low budget horror flick. The use of full sized actors to portray miniature monsters is convincing at times. The stop motion effects are passable, too. Between a zombie exploding into smaller demons and an impressive looking demon lord, The Gate does well with the effects. Those apocalyptic shots of hell being unleashed onto the earth extremely well done.

While the acting remains bad, the story silly and painfully slow to get moving, The Gate turned out to be exactly what I love about 80s monster movies: dumb and fun! Nostalgia isn't the secret ingredient after all. Recommended!

Image Quality

inline Image The Gate was broadcast on MonstersHD in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and, being an HD broadcast, is 16x9 enhanced. While I don't own the previously released pan & scan DVD, the reviews I've read on it indicate an atrocious transfer. While a comparison would be ideal, I opted not to purchase the DVD due to its rarity and high price tag for such a lackluster product. Also, since the transfer here isn't available on any home video format, the point of a comparison becomes moot. Now, onto the transfer, which is in fact quite stunning for a low budet movies from the 80s! The image is razor sharp and well detailed. Colors are consistently well balanced with no bleeding occuring. Some minor grain is present and a few blemishes and specks appear throughout, but it's minimal. Considering the age and low budget of the movie, I'm highly impressed with the broadcast.

Sound

Monsters HD presented The Gate with a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track. LFE activity is minimal but it does kick in during the action sequences. Channel separation is good and there's adequate activity from rear speakers. Overall a good track; dialogue is crisp and clear and I heard no distortion whatsoever.

Supplemental Material

No supplements were on the broadcast.

Final Thoughts

The Gate gets off to a slow start but in the end it delivers. The story is hokey and the acting is awful, but the effects are decent enough and it fits the bill for a good 80s monster movie. If you haven't seen it, give it a try. This MonstersHD presentation does justice to the movie with a top notch high definition transfer and a great soundtrack. Now lets just hope the right company comes along to do the movie justice on DVD and Blu-ray.

Rating

.
Movie – B

Image Quality – B+

Sound – B

Supplements – N/A



*Because of the quality of the HD format, the clarity, resolution and color depth are inherently a major leap over DVD. Since any Blu-ray will naturally have better characteristics than DVDs, the rating is therefore only in comparison with other Blu-ray titles, rather than home video in general. So while a Blu-ray film may only get a C, it will likely be much better than a DVD with an A.

Technical Info.
  • Running Time – 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Color
  • Rated PG-13
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements
  • None

 

 

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Old 10-11-2008, 01:31 PM
The Apocalyptic Kid
This was one of my favorites as a kid which I sadly do not own on DVD. I hope that it is release on Blu-Ray or at least DVD.
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Old 10-11-2008, 05:44 PM
Detroit Hi-on
I do have the old P&S dvd as well as an HD2DVD custom of this I downloaded from a torrent site. Technically I haven't seen this film in HD, as the custom is compressed to fit a single layer dvdr. Even at that compression, it destroys the dvd in every way, almost hard to believe it's the same film. I didn't really check to see if it was "matted" for widescreen or not, and probably will never spin that Platinum disc again. Maybe I'll pop it in for a screen shot or 2 someday.
I'd bet you could record this on a VCR and transfer it to dvd and it would be better than the Platinum disc (not sure how the custom I have was made, although I recall him saying he grabbed the full HD files from a newsgroup. Not sure how to convert after that).
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Old 10-11-2008, 06:35 PM
The Eighth Samurai
I passed up watching this in HD the other night...really should have taken the time to watch it. Was busy filling up my DVR with the Sci-Fi Tales from the Darkside marathon. Too bad most of the episodes so far haven't lived up to my memories.

Quick question Dave, how do you manage to get the screen grabs off of an HD broadcast?? Have your PC plugged into your box someway or something?? I always pass on reviewing stuff I watch in HD for the site I work for, as I don't know how to go about getting screenshots.
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Old 10-12-2008, 11:00 PM
Detroit Hi-on
I just checked 3 different scenes between the DVDr and the Platinum disc and can say without a doubt, the Platinum is pan and scan. No extra picture on the top or bottom, just a bunch gone from the sides. Plus the Plat. disc shows tons of artifacts and dull colors, while the custom is bright, clear and almost spec-free. I did see a spec or 2 here and there, which is probably due to the HD signal being compressed down to fit the dvdr. It's almost like comparing a beat up VHS to a brand new film print. Think it's time to sell my last Platinum disc, although I may keep it just for the cover. At least the cover has the right artwork.
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Old 10-12-2008, 11:56 PM
Pimp
Yeah it really is amazing how good some of these hi def broadcasts are. It's a shame they aren't readily available on a home video format.
 
 
Old 10-13-2008, 04:56 AM
Moderator
The Gate owns...Canada is crying because it still doesn't have a proper widescreen release. What gives?
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Old 10-13-2008, 06:43 AM
They stay the same age...
But, at least we have The Gate II in some form. Even though it wasn't in a 16 x 9 enhanced full screen edition like the magical Prom Night II disc.
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Old 10-13-2008, 08:26 AM
Out as an anamorphic R4 PAL release for under $AU10.00 (US35c)...
 
 

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