What can I say about Gremlins that you don’t already know? Everybody has seen Gremlins! Produced by Steven Spielberg, written by Chris Columbus (writer and director of Home Alone), and directed by Joe Dante, one of my favourit directors of the 80s, Gremlins is a creature feature that represents that great sub-genre of films, family-oriented horror. Yes this is very much a kids movie, but it is very scary at the same time… well scary to an 8 year old version of me at least.
The plot: A traveling salesman buys a mysterious creature for his son for Christmas, a mogwai (voiced endearingly by Howie Mandel). This mogwai, which the boy names Gizmo, has very specific rules regarding its care: A) Never expose it to bright light (particularly sunlight, as that could kill it); B) Never get it wet (as that will cause it to multiply); and most importantly, C) Never… EVER… feed it after midnight, for this will cause a cute little mogwai to morph into a hideous gremlin. Well of course rules B and C are broken, and this small town’s Christmas is turned into a nightmare as hundreds of gremlins run amok, causing chaos at every turn.
The film starred new comer Zach Galligan as Billy, Gizmo’s owner and care-giver, and every teenage boy’s wet dream in the 80s, Phoebe Cates (Fast Times at Ridgemont High), as his girlfriend Kate. The film also had notable cameos from other 80s stalwarts including Corey Feldman, Judge Reinhold, and Hoyt Axton as Billy’s father.
The Crew with their numerous Gremlins in a behind-the-scenes shot
I cannot praise Gremlins enough. It is everything I feel is necessary in films for older children. It is scary and funny. It endorses mischief. And there is a sense of peril throughout the film. These are the staples of every Amblin film from the 80s – films like Goonies and E.T. But the heart and soul of the film are the Gremlins desinged by Chris Walas (who had worked with Dante in the past with Pirhana). Walas is one of the great creature designers of late 20th Century film with credits that include The Fly and Arachnophobia, and his gremlins just ooze menace. These things emote so much joy as they terrorize everything and everyone. And it all takes place at Christmas! I love it and you will too!
On the first day of Christmas, my true love made me see: The Ice Harvest
On the second day of Christmas, my true love made me see:Scrooged
On the third day of Christmas, my true love made me see: Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love made me see:Batman Returns
On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love made me see: Rare Exports
On the sixth day of Chirstmas, my true love made me see: Eyes Wide Shut
On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love made me see: Gremlins