Today, May 15th, 2017, marks the 30th anniversary of The Gate!
Horror films centered on and geared towards young kids aren’t very common here in the present day, but they were all the rage back in the 1980s – and one of the very best “kids vs. monsters” films of them all is director Tibor Takacs’ The Gate, released in 1987. The film, which starred a young Stephen Dorff, told the story of young friends Glen and Terry, who accidentally unleash a horde of tiny demons from deep beneath a suburban backyard. If you’ve never seen it, we strongly encourage you to pick up Vestron Video’s Blu-ray, released earlier this year.
What you may not know about The Gate is that a 3D remake was at one point in the works from director Alex Winter. Does that name sound familiar? Yes, we’re talking about the very same Alex Winter who played beloved character William “Bill” S. Preston Esq. in the Bill & Ted films! It was announced back in 2009 that Winter would be directing The Gate 3D, a passion project that had been penned by Kerric Macdonald. Winter, who directed 1993’s Freaked, was set to begin the shoot for H20 Motion Pictures in either late 2009 or early 2010, and if you look back through the BD archives you’ll see that we were incredibly excited about the project.
Like the ’87 original, Winter’s remake of The Gate was to revolve around two kids, “Miles and Terry, who live in a typical suburban tract. One day, they discover a mysterious crystalline rock in Miles’ backyard, and they quickly dig up the lawn in search of more. But instead, they unearth The Gate – the opening to an underground chamber containing terrifying evil. The boys soon realize what they have unleashed, as one dire event follows another. With supernatural fiends invading suburbia, it’s up to the kids to find the secret that will forever lock THE GATE… if it is not too late.”
A more detailed plot rundown also hit the net back in 2009, revealing that it’s Miles who inadvertently opens up the gate to Hell with a makeshift rocket that was originally intended to blow up a Barbie doll. Like in the original, Miles and Terry are tasked with cleaning up the hellish mess while Miles’ dad is away for the weekend – the two boys are left in the hands of Al, Miles’ “emo-clad elder sister.” In addition to the tiny Minions, the original film’s “dead workman” and “Demon Lord” were going to make appearances, along with all kinds of other monsters – including a possessed garden gnome!
From the lengthier plot synopsis…
The ground heaves and stretches before exploding with thousands of minions that rain down onto the earth. They are not alone: a rotting skeletal monstrosity bursts through the wall. It’s the Dead Workman! But this is just a taste of the pure evil that is to come…
The earth cleaves in two as the Demon Lord rises to the surface: a fossilized nightmare come to life. Its tentacles slither across the ground as all manner of evil beasts are disgorged from the hole and run howling into the night.
Essentially, Winter hoped to channel the spirit of the 1980s for his remake, which was at the time described as “a PG-13 children’s fantasy that will provide the emotional rollercoaster ride of a horror film, without the blood and guts.” And get this. The remake’s newly-updated creatures were set to be designed by Academy Award winner Randall William Cook and H.R. Giger! Giger, who unfortunately passed away back in 2014, was of course the artist who designed the titular villain in 1979’s Alien.
A press release further described the project as “a children’s fantasy with soul, humor, and excitement, with the underlying tension of great danger, like THE GOONIES and GREMLINS, where the kids almost get bitten, almost get swallowed by the Gate, and almost get killed by the Demon Lord, but ultimately escape with the help of ingenuity, imagination, innocence, and teamwork.”
So what happened? Despite some early concept art (seen throughout this article) being done on the project, The Gate 3D never ended up getting off the ground. And it’s a bummer, because Winter seemed to be a huge fan of the original film and incredibly passionate about bringing kid-friendly horror back to the big screen. He even expressed a desire to use the remake as the jumping off point for an entire franchise, which could’ve been a really fun way to get a whole new generation of kids into monster movies.
After all, The Gate did just that for many of us back in 1987.