The Gate gets a one line nod (like a lot of geeky 80s stuff) in my novel Vivian’s Last Cigarette, which is set in 1989. I had to explain the reference to friend and author Lauren L. Garcia when she encountered it during critique… Kids today, what are you watching on VHS? ;-)
Sigh. At least she’s a fan of the Ninja Turtles…
Anyways, The Gate is actually a fun little scary movie! It was intentionally produced for a younger or general audience rather than the adult, R rated, audience of your typical 1980s horror/slasher film. The scares rely on mood and surprise rather than gore, and that may be a reason why fans for 1980s horror films are quick to dismiss it as a kids movie.
I was in the right age bracket when this film came out, and I remember it fondly even though by then I had been exposed to “harder” films that were far more grim and not nearly as age-appropriate. At the time, I just thought it was cool to have a horror movie that featured protagonists about my age. It’s not a perfect film, but today it’s considered a cult classic by many. Watching it as an adult, I have to give it props for handling a message about “family values” very subtlety… In the 1980s that subject was usually wielded like a sledgehammer and the results have aged very poorly.