Terrence Chandler (Louis Tripp) has seen his best friend leave his house a while back after a gate to Hell was opened up in his house due to their meddling with the dark arts. But now Terry's father is an alcoholic who cannot hold down a job, and as he's his sole guardian Terry worries about what can possibly be done to get his life back in order, so is drawn to the old house of his former friend to see if he can open up the gate once more. If he succeeds, he will be able to make a wish which will be granted by the demons there - but he has company.
Probably the only film to feature someone sacrificing a hamster to Satan (or evil equivalent), Gate II had a troubled history, perhaps the price to pay for dabbling in black magic, or perhaps the price to pay for having distribution problems which saw to it that the film, unlike its fairly well thought of predecessor, barely entered cinemas before it ended up on video as strictly afterthought material. It actually sat on the shelf for the best part of two years, having been completed in 1988, though one thing in its favour was that the first Gate had enjoyed a cult following thanks to its nifty way with a special effect, which returning director Tibor Takács and writer Michael Nankin did their best to recreate here.
Except that it was evident a larger budget would have been nice, for the effects in this one were far more sparingly applied, and even then mostly took in the antics of the minion, of which there were a host in the original, but a measly one here. Still, much the same tone was carried over, with Tripp reprising his role as the bespectacled Terry (or Terrence as he prefers) who gets his wishes, but at a huge price, and that includes the three contemporaries he drags into the turmoil with him, though they really only have themselves to blame for that. It is ringleader John (James Villemaire) who is the troublemaker, pulling a pistol on the minion after being persuaded to join by girlfriend Liz (voiceover artist extraordinaire Pamela Adlon).
She is on Terry's wavelength, and after he brings the dead minion home with him to place him in a jar for further investigation, she makes contact again to see if anything can be done about these wishes. And indeed there can, as Terry's spells manage to secure his father his old job as a pilot and he could not be happier. However, after Liz's greed sees to it they get to drive around in a fancy car and buy loads of presents - for themselves - they discover the downside, which is the wishes only last so long before they wear off and literally turn to shit. Terry's dad therefore is in an accident which leaves him comatose, which should have warned him away from any more spellcasting, but John and the other friend Moe (Simon Reynolds) can't resist.
Here's where the frankly mopey atmosphere of the movie should have kicked off into a far higher gear, and to an extent it makes moves towards that as John and Moe get rich quick but have a price to pay when the effects of the gate have unforseen consequences. Well, unforseen if you'd never caught the trailer, which was on quite a few rental videos in the horror genre at the time, in which case you'd be all too aware the two misfits transform into great big monsters ("Surprise!"). This was the cue for much anticipated special effects of the stop motion variety, accompanied by some by the numbers rubber creature makeup, but it did mean something vaguely interesting was happening. It was just that the innovation seen in the first instalment, which may not have been a classic but was good fun, was absent here, in the vein of somebody putting up the money for a sequel without proper plans for it in place regarding a similar quality script or production. One for the fans (except Stephen Dorf fans, he wasn't in it). Music by George Blondheim.