- Movie Rating -

Gremlins (1984)

| June 8, 1984

I have a very weird feeling that Gremlins either started out much like E.T. or the other way around.  They seem to compliment one another.  One is a director’s fantasy about what it would be like to befriend a benign creature from outer space.  The other comes from a bunch of studio executives who would want to turn that story into a malevolent monster movie.  On the whole, I prefer E.T., but Gremlins has its good points too.

If E.T. was an embellishment of American consumerism, then Gremlins is an assault on it.  The movie takes place in a small Norman Rockwell town at Christmastime and favors the idea that the wrong gift given just days before could cause death and destruction.  Let’s put it this way, some gifts come with a set of instructions that you can take with a grain of salt but this gift comes with a set of instructions that you need to tattoo on the back of your hand.

The gift is discovered by an inventor (Hoyt Axton) in a little shop in Chinatown where the proprietor, played by the legendary Keye Luke warns him away from it.  It’s a furry little . . . something.  It’s adorable.  It has bat ears, lots of fur and even sings to itself.  The old Chinese man calls it a Mogwai and warns that it is “not for sale at any price.”  Naturally, his grandson disagrees and sells it to the inventor in a back alley with a specific set of instructions.  1.) No bright lights.  2.) Don’t get them wet, and 3.) Never ever feel the Mogwai after midnight.  The last rule is a little perplexing since it’s always after midnight.  Is there a 6am cut off time?

Anyway, the moment that the rules are set in place you know that the texture of the rest of the movie will be about breaking those rules.  The inventor gives the creature to his son Billy and eventually, yes, the rules are broken.  Bright light kills the beasts.  Water causes them to multiply.  And feeding them after midnight turns them into a bug-like amphibians with sharp teeth and an appetite for destruction.

On the destruction part, the movie does not disappoint.  Gremlins turns into a really good mayhem film filled with explosions, death and general disruption of the holiday season.  This is a playfully violent movie that goes as far over the top as it can without getting too gruesome.  Yes, there are lots of deaths in this movie but the death here really is in the cliches about Christmas movies.  But it is done with a lighter touch then, say, strange invaders.  The filmmakers are having a lot of fun with this concept, and so did

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1984) View IMDB Filed in: Action, Comedy, Horror