MAY 3, 2009
Want to hear something really depressing? On a per theater average, attendance was higher for Gate II (the “The” has been dropped, along with everything else) on its opening weekend than it was for Memoirs Of An Invisible Man, which opened on the same day. Who are these people who would rather watch a lousy sequel that couldn’t have possibly even LOOKED good (unless they used footage from a different movie entirely) than a big budget effects comedy with the star of Christmas Vacation, which was a major smash just over two years before?
I’m not being facetious here - this is one of the most thoroughly uninteresting movies I have watched yet for HMAD. To say they were just going through the motions would almost be giving it a compliment. It starts lazily, with Terry (the metal-loving friend from the first film) not even bothering to explain where Stephen Dorff is and then re-opening the gate to help his dad get his job back. Has there ever been a lamer reason for unleashing spirits from hell? Christ, kid, just help him get creative with his resume if you want to give him a hand. To be fair, there’s also some nonsense about how they “didn’t do it right” the first time, but as it’s been two years seemingly without incident, I would say that they closed it up just fine. And from there it just gets lazier. People make wishes, and the objects of those wishes eventually turn into dust, or poop, or the person they affect just sort of zones out. The timeframe also varies from object to object; some things last days, others “go bad” within an hour or so.
The ending though, holy shit. It seems writer Michael Nankin (who also wrote the original) watched Poltergeist II a whole bunch before concocting this nonsense. The final battle takes place in some other dimension, and not only is it referred to as “the other side”, but it also looks like the same desert landscape/old Star Trek set that the former film had. But this time, we are treated to a few stop motion monsters growling at each other, Terry turning into a mutant Harry Potter, and a pentagon shaped symbol that glows. At some point during this confusing mess, Terry dies. And for a second, I was like “OK movie, you know what? You’ve bored me to tears, but at least you have the balls to kill off your main (teenage) character.” But then, during his funeral, Terry suddenly climbs out of his coffin, all cheerful and spunky. Most of the funeral-goers run away and scream, but his girlfriend and father (who was placed in a full body cast just two days before, but now just has a limp) don’t think much of it. His dad even musses his hair up. “Oh you crazy kids with your necromancy and causing crippling emotional distress to a man who has already lost his wife!”
And that’s not even the worst of it! After the undead Terry and co. walk off into the sunset, the two bullies that have been harassing him through most of the movie climb out of the coffin as well! They seem perfectly OK too, and much like for Terry, there isn’t even the slightest explanation of how they were resurrected, or how they managed to find themselves in his casket. But doing so would drag the movie out even longer, and at that point I had already had enough.
The effects also baffled me. I might be wrong, but it seems like that they used a little person or maybe even a normal sized one and put them in a monster suit to play the pint sized little monster that comes from the gate. However, it also looks like the giant monster was done with a stop motion miniature! Big for small, small for big. Doesn’t quite make sense to me, but either way the compositing is lousy across the board, making this the rare sequel in which the effects have actually devolved.
Again, this is the same writer as the original. The director is the same as well, which makes the complete change in quality all the more puzzling. Were they purposely making a bad movie, like in The Producers? Also, Terry used to listen to nerd metal, Iron Maiden type stuff. So why does he have a giant Motley Crue poster in his room now? He got older so he lost interest in Maiden but gained an appreciation for hair metal? What the? And even though he was one of the best things about the original, he’s fairly unlikable here. Most of his role requires him to just sigh at his dad’s drunken behavior, yell out the other character’s names, or poke around his room looking for the little monster. In fact, despite having the same filmmaking team, about the only thing this movie has in common with the original is a wildly unnecessary use of the term “faggot”, which is hardly something one would want to promote.
The full-frame DVD’s only two extras are vague bios for Louis Tripp and Pamela Segall (Bobby Hill!). Also it’s some sort of dual-language release, so the French title “La Fissure 2” is also on the disc, along with its subtitle “Le cauchemar reprend”. As you all know, the French (and thus, real) title for Cathy’s Curse is Cauchemares. But since the English subtitle for Gate 2 is Return to the Nightmare, this means that I still have no idea what the hell a “cauchemar” is in English. I’m guessing it’s either “Nightmare” or “Cathy”.
What say you?