Release dateOctober 19, 1980 (1980-10-19) (USA) CastLucille Billingsley (Herself), Zella Graham (Herself), Cal Harberts (Himself), Dan Harberts (Himself), Phil Harberts (Himself), Scottie Harberts (Himself) Similar moviesAnimal Love, Rio, Being John Malkovich, Gremlins, Rango, Pet Sematary
TaglineDeath is for the living and not for the dead so much.
Gates of heaven lady in the doorway
Gates of Heaven is a 1978 documentary film by Errol Morris about the pet cemetery business. It was made when Morris was unknown and did much to launch his career.
The film, like Morris' other works, is unnarrated and the stories are told purely through interviews. It is divided into two main sections. The first concerns Floyd "Mac" McClure and his lifelong quest to allow pets to have a graceful burial. McClure's business associates and his competitor, a manager of a rendering plant, are interviewed. Eventually the business fails and the 450 animals have to be dug up and transported to the Bubbling Well Pet Memorial Park. This operation is run by John "Cal" Harberts and his two sons. This business is far more successful, and continues to operate today, run by Cal's son Dan Harberts.
Noted director Werner Herzog pledged that he would eat the shoe he was wearing if Morris' film on this improbable subject was completed and shown in a public theater. When the film was released Herzog lived up to his wager and the consumption of his footwear was made into the short film Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe. Gates of Heaven launched Morris' career and is now viewed as a classic. In 1991, Roger Ebert named it one of the ten best films ever made.
Roger Ebert wrote that the film is an "underground legend," and in 1997 put it in his list of The Great Movies.