Quick Hit: One of the greatest of all horror comedies.
Hello and welcome to the second day of our 80s/90s movie marathon! Today’s movie is Gremlins. Gremlins, written by Chris Columbus (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Home Alone), produced by Spielberg (uh, let’s just say numerous here), and directed by Joe Dante (Piranha, The Howling) is a perfect example of why horror and comedy are the peanut butter and jelly of the film world – they just go together. Whether it’s seeing a Gremlin in a microwave, or seeing them dancing to “Hi-Ho” from Snow White, the Gremlins are really, really funny, but they’re also exceedingly dangerous.
1984s Gremlins has the 80s sprinkled all over it. From the cars, to the haircuts, to even the endless supply of inventions by Mr. Peltzer, it’s got that tinge of sparkle that 80s movies love. Couple that with the fact that the lot that the film was shot on is the same as Back to the Future, and you have one of the best movies from one of the best decades of movies ever.
There’s a lot of reasons that I think this movie is so good. First, you have good side characters that know they’re expendable. You have the evil Ms. Deagle who is just out to get poor Billy’s dog, and you have the immortal Dick Miller as the crazy, slightly racist example of the neighbor that nearly everyone has had at least once (and man is he good as always in this role). I think my favorite side character is the fact that Corey Feldman just pops up, because this was the eighties, so therefore I think there was a legal requirement that Feldman appear.
Though the acting by leads Zach Galligan (Billy) and Phoebe Cates (Kate) is good, it’s nothing compared to the puppetry wizardry that took place throughout the film. The puppets, from Gizmo’s cute and cuddly demeanor to Spike’s scaly, vicious look, are incredibly well-designed. They reportedly spent a ton of the films budget on them, each animatronic costing between $30,000 and $40,000 dollars. But that was well worth it, as the film became a phenomenon, spawning a sequel (which I think is arguably better than the original). Who doesn’t love an entire town full of monsters?
I think what’s most impressive about Gremlins is that it manages to make a firm point about our society while still being an extremely entertaining horror comedy. There’s not too many films I can think of that toe that line (unless you think Sam Raimi warning people about the sexual efficacy of trees in Evil Dead counts). Gremlins is ultimately about the dangers of greed and excess in the American lifestyle – and a small danger against the American dream. Billy’s father’s immediate reaction to the Mogwai, upon seeing that they can reproduce, is to want to market them. Peltzer Pets, he calls them. The Gremlins themselves are the ultimate interpretation of greed gone wild – taking and doing whatever they want. It’s a strong message that’s not easily missed, and it takes the movie to a whole new level.
So yeah – Gremlins is fantastic, and I had no problem watching this Christmas movie in April. That’s because it’s a solid “A+”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"