|June 8, 1984|
|Amblin Entertainment (Steven Spielberg)|
|Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Comedy, Fantasy, Horror
Somehow in the midst of Christmas season rituals like decorating the house after Thanksgiving and the countless television stations playing “A Christmas Story” and “Elf” all day on Christmas Eve, a new ritual was born in the form of a little fuzzy creature named Mogwai. Produced by Steven Spielberg, “Gremlins” has become as Christmas as “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th Street” and the reason for this is simple: people got sick of the common Christmas film.
In all reality, “Gremlins” is more of a horror film than a feel-good seasonal film. Billy (Zach Galligan) is the average teenager, with the average teenage life, and the average teenage love interest, Kate (Phoebe Cates), who actually even hates Christmas. Gizmo, the magical Japanese creature given as a Christmas present to Billy at one point wears a Santa hat, but aside from that, this film is pure horror-comedy. “Gremlins” gives its viewers a way out of the holiday season while still developing their own rituals.
Gizmo is cute. A blend between a purring kitten and the Ewoks from “Return of the Jedi”, there are specific rules to follow when handling the little bugger. No bright lights, absolutely no water, and no food after midnight; these are the rules to never be broken. Going into any film that sets unbreakable rules, you can damn sure expect those rules to be broken. It is when these rules break and new gremlins are born that the film gets interesting. One green bubbling high school pool later and the entire charming town of Kingston Falls becomes infested with the cigarette smoking, biting and clawing, gunslinging varmints. The pace from then on is that out of any horror-slasher film you may have encountered.
The look of the gremlins rivals most prosthetic creature movies, including that of Spielberg’s own “E.T.”, which “Gremlins” is often referred to. The rubbery, scaly nature of the creatures makes even their most gruesome deaths in a microwave and a blender that much more grotesque, which ends up being half the fun of the film. Their antics in the town bar and movie theater make up the other half.
“Gremlins” is basically the anti-Christmas movie. The only actual holiday portions of the film are brief and the horror-comedy side of the film takes off where that seasonal element leaves off. Though the characters leave much to be desired, the creatures more than take on a life of their own, creating a truly unique Christmas movie alternative.