For this week, I’m watching Christmas movies! And one of the best non-traditional Christmas films ever made is up first:
Gremlins is a 1984 horror/comedy (although it’s hardly a horror compared to today’s standards), starring Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, and Dick Miller (That Guy, Dick Miller!). Billy’s father Randall Peltzer (played by Hoyt Axton), a hapless inventor of temporary-working junk, comes across the perfect Christmas gift: a doll-sized creature known as a Mogwai.
But the old man who owns it, explicitly states that it isn’t for sale, and his grandson decides against it and sells it behind his back, but not before describing the three rules of the creature:
- Don’t get it wet.
- Keep it out of bright lights, it will kill him.
- Don’t feed it after midnight.
Randall brings it home to his enthusiastic son, and things go wrong quite quickly. Water gets dropped on Gizmo (named by his wacky inventor father of course), and he sprouts five offspring from out his back.
Then those mischievous Gremlins wreak havoc in the small town of Kingston Falls.
Soon, they run rampant and destroy the entire town, but not before spreading Christmas cheer!
Soon, it’s Billy, Kate, and Gizmo versus hundreds of Gremlins and their leader, Stripe. They decide to (SPOILERS) blow them all to Kingdom Come in a movie theater. Hey… Did Tarantino steal this idea for Inglorious Basterds?
Where/ when did I first see it?
I first watched this film at my babysitter, Gigi’s place (around 1993-94), but like Ghostbusters, when I saw the sequel much later, I had faint memories of the first film, and had to re-watch it.
How does it hold up?
The film holds up incredibly well considering that the Gremlins are practical effects, and the terror that they caused in the small town is firmly cemented around their antics (which also hold up beautifully).
I don’t remember this film being as dark as it was though, especially when Kate explains why she hates Christmas. Yikes.
What did I like about it and why?
Gremlins is a creature feature set at Christmas time, so what’s not to like? It’s funny, dark, childish, and mature all at once. They keep mentioning a third film in the series, but we all know that it would be CGI characters, and it would wind up more like the antics of Krampus than anything else (I’m looking at you, CGIngerbread Men).
Then, the film devises clever ways in which to kill the Gremlins, and suddenly, failed inventor Randall Peltzer becomes a hero (not in the movie, but in the script).
This was also written by Chris Columbus, who had a hand in another Christmas classic of my youth… Stay tuned.
And before I forget, I also revisited the sequel, which is in itself a parody of the first film, and Rick Baker did the practical effects this time, and the creatures look so much better!
- Don’t get them wet.
- Don’t expose them to bright light, they’ll die.
- And whatever you do, DON’T feed them after midnight.
Where can you see it?
Check out Gremlins on CanIStream.It?