Picks and Pans Review: The Gate

updated 06/08/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/08/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The ads and trailers for this movie make it seem a lot scarier than it really is, but it's still a passable addition to the teen scream scene. A series of strange events leads to the uncovering of a mysterious hole in a house's backyard. The parents get out of the house just in time for a vacation while teens Stephen Dorff and Christa Denton, along with neighborhood friend Louis Tripp, are left to do battle with their worst nightmares: a multi-limbed monster under the bed, a zombie who bursts through walls and a giant Aliens-like creature who engulfs almost the entire house. (Parents can be scared too if they liken this last guy to an adjustable-rate mortgage that just ballooned out of control.) In a wry touch, Tripp discovers from one of his heavy metal LPs that they've unlocked the gate to hell. Playing the album backwards—à la those Abbey Road myths—tells them how to close it. Canadian Tibor Takacs directs his first American feature with aplomb, but the real stars of this film are the special effects team of Randy (Ghostbusters) Cook and Craig (E.T.) Reardon. True, a movie that exists solely for special effects purposes is on the empty side. But to paraphrase Woody Allen, as empty experiences go, this is a pretty good one. (PG-13)

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