If wishes came true, silly monsters would get the 'Gate'

March 03, 1992|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,Film Critic

I miss monsters. I liked the big ones that used to squish cities and eat cops like finger foods. Remember that guy who tripped (( the light fantastic on the sidewalks of New York? What about the naughty pup that almost single-handedly de-constructed the Roman Colosseum? And that gloppy, wet one that tore down the Golden Gate Bridge with his tentacles?

But monster movies, like westerns and good musicals, are gone forever. What we're left with is a bastardized form like "Gate II," which has vestiges of the monster-mash in it, as cross-fertilized with themes from demonology and heavy-metal head-banging, all of it underlighted, underbudgeted and overacted.

The monster is a "minion," as recalled from the land "beyond infinite," as one of the participants has it. He's about a foot tall with aweight-lifter's body, a mean guppy's head, scales everywhere, and he has one gift the Beast from 20,000 fathoms never would have dreamed of: He can make wishes come true.

Like, excuse me? The Beast didn't make wishes come true! He made them stop altogether! That's what was neat about him. This feel-good '90s monster must have been reading his "Iron John" in the next dimension, if you ask me.

Anyway, the film follows what happens to the kids when they call up the minion and wish for things. One wishes that his dad get his job back as an airline pilot. Another wishes for a 'Vette. The other two are really creative: They ask for a lot of money.

None of the wishes work out, and one of the kids turns into aeven bigger monster. So the hero kid -- Louis Tripp, and you can tell he's the hero because he made the good wish -- has to figure out a way to send him back to wherever, which he does with a music box. Yes. A music box. See, it's a documentary.

The original "Gate" of some years back has a really big monster in it, and on that score alone provided a nugget of flavor. This one is so busy trying to be funny and outrageous it never bothers to be good, and the monsters it contains -- big and little -- are a total letdown.

'Gate II'

Starring Pamela Segall and Louis Tripp.

Directed by Tibor Takacs.

Released by Triumph.

Rated R.

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