Tuesday, April 06, 2010
The Gate II: Return to the Nightmare (1990)
Terry is back and armed with far more than heavy metal liner notes. It has been two years since the original and he continues to be consumed with demonology, working alone as Glen is nowhere to be found (I guess Stephen Dorff must have had a conflicting guest spot on Mr. Belvedere or something}. Terry returns to Glen's house which is where it all began and which is now suitable only for squatters and drug addicts. There's just no resale value in a home once infested with stop motion evil. He goes about summoning the Trinity of Demons when a Trinity of Burnouts break up the fun. Together the four band together to finish the ritual and end up shooting a minion that slipped through the opening created. But you just can't keep a good minion down.
Meanwhile, Terry had some ulterior motives of his own as he has determined that the minions can grant wishes and he is desperate to get his alcoholic father back to work. This is a nice reference to the first Gate where Terry himself is lashing out due to the then recent death of his mother. The middle part of Gate II focuses on this wish fulfillment and the trouble that ultimately comes with easy fortunes. See, the shelf life of whatever is created through these wishes is awfully short and always ends up looking like something your pet minion might leave in the backyard.
Our story concludes with that pesky Trinity of Demons breaking through the Gate through the burnouts themselves. We get a final battle in the Demon dimension which always did pique my interest as we never got to see where they came from in the original. One might imagine that while spending billions of years waiting by the Gate, the Trinity might have gotten around to sprucing up their own dimension as it is all rocks and desolation, but apparently not. The very end is a bit of a head scratcher. Luckily for Terry, Canadians apparently do not embalm their dead and he busts out of his own coffin to walk off into the sunset with his best girl, Burnout #2.
The original Gate is more nostalgic than anything as I watched it many times as a kid. It is a fairly youth-friendly horror endeavor and succeeds mostly due to its small scope and decent effects. This is basically the problem with Gate II as the story is needlessly complicated. When did minions suddenly get genie powers? As well, the effects, a mix of rubber costuming and some stop-motion action, looks a lot cheaper than what I remembered from the first one. It remains a fun diversion, but ultimately not a necessary continuation of any kind.