Despite having only seen Gremlins for the first time about a year ago, we have a long a tumultuous history together. I had actually seen the sequel a shit ton of times because it was on HBO a lot as a kid, and surprisingly, you can very quickly be brought up to speed on the franchise without having seen the first movie. Years later, I saw an ad in Entertainment Weekly for a new game show called “The World Series of Pop Culture”. At the time, I was in college and was far more in touch with pop culture than I am now, so I got a couple of friends together and we went and tried out for the show. The first part involved a written test of around 50 questions, and they took the top scoring teams into the audition process. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to that round, due in part to two questions I got wrong. One question was asking what the three rules were for the creatures in Gremlins, and everybody knows about not feeding them after midnight and not to get them wet, but most people forget that you can’t expose them to bright light! Another question was asking the name of the Scottish experimental rock band that was taken from a 1984 Joe Dante film. Despite having a few of their albums, I had no idea that the band Mogwai had gotten their name from this movie! It was this goddamn movie that got in the way of my winning $250,000! WHY IS GREMLINS ALWAYS TRYING TO BUTTFUCK MY LIFE?!
OH MY GOD GIZMO YOU ARE SO FUCKING CUTE IN YOUR LITTLE SANTA HAT!
While on a quest to find the perfect Christmas gift for his son, an eccentric inventor finds a strange animal being sold in a store in Chinatown. Even though to shopkeeper refuses to sell it, his shopkeeper’s son knows they need the money, so he sells it to the inventor and explains those three important rules of this “mogwai”. Once Billy (Zach Galligan) is given this mogwai, which his father has named “Gizmo”, he respects and adheres to all the rules. unfortunately, a shithead little kid (Corey Feldman) accidentally spills water all of Gizmo’s back, causing him to shoot balls of fur out of his back. These balls of fur develop into more mogwai, but these mogwai start acting like dickheads. They act like such dickheads, they even break a clock to trick Billy into feeding them after midnight! Dammit! These mogwai then turn into eggs, which eventually hatch into little green monsters that are geared only towards creating mischief and mayhem. Even though Billy’s mom is able to kill a few of them, one escapes to the local YMCA and gets into the pool. You guys remember what happens when they get wet, right? Exactly! Hundreds more little monsters are created and they run rampant through the town. Between destroying things in people’s homes or getting completely shitfaced at a local bar, the destruction knows no bounds. Eventually they all decide to go to the movies for some reason and Billy seizes this opportunity to blow them all up. He does, except for one, who had broken into a nearby department store. Billy is unable to stop this final monster from getting to a fountain inside the store, but just as it’s about to multiply, Gizmo shows up to open the window shades to let light in, killing the last little green dickhead. With the havoc over, the shopkeeper tracks down Billy and gives him a lecture about not understanding or appreciating nature, so he takes Gizmo back. I’m sure that Billy will NEVER see Gizmo again, things seemed pretty final.
You knew that this gremlin was the shitty gremlin because he had a mohawk. Nothing good has ever happened involving anything with a mohawk.
Even though this movie might just be generally considered to be a funny special effects movie, it had a huge impact on movies for years to come. Not necessarily in an artistic respect, but at the time the movie came out, movies were either rated R or were rated PG. This movie was certainly a family film, as I think the harshest line of dialogue involved the word “asshole”, and most of the comedy was physical humor, but having scenes of creatures exploding with green goo after being placed in a microwave was pretty shocking for a PG rated movie at that time. With all of the drinking, cigarette smoking, or people being attacked by chainsaws/crosswbows/handguns, it definitely had more adult content than most other PG movies you can think of. Maybe it seems silly to play “what if”, but I think this story could have been told the exact same way in an animated format, and I don’t think anyone would have been all that concerned with its content. The problem with that is that the practical effects are what makes this movie so fun. From the mogwai/gremlin puppets to the gooey effects to even the crazy inventions, everything’s really silly. I might be alone on this, but I think my favorite effect in the whole movie is the scene where a gremlin gets into a pool to multiply. The entire pool started bubbling and releasing fog and glowing green, and I feel like these days, if an effect like that was required, it would have just been done with CGI, or done practically on a small scale and then cut to a CGI version of the large scale. Instead, they just did it, and even if it’s not the most memorable effect, it was a nice reminder of how Hollywood used to do things.
I don’t know why the gremlins had to be so mean to this dog that was acting awesome through the entire movie.
I recently reviewed Rare Exports, which is a movie a highly enjoyed, but one of the things holding it back was that it was so intrinsically connected with Christmas, I couldn’t imagine watching it any other time of the year. With Gremlins, the effect is opposite. Were I to watch Gremlins at a time of the year that wasn’t Christmas, there’s no way I’d enjoy it as much as I do when I watch it this time of the year. We have the mystical elements of the magic of Christmas, the plot point that Gizmo was a Christmas gift, Billy’s dad being away from most of these events because he’s selling inventions before Christmas, and even had the explanation that Phoebe Cates’s character hated Christmas because her father died while crawling down her chimney in a Santa suit. The entire concept of the movie was Chris Columbus, the film’s writer, used to hear rats skittering around in the walls at night when he was trying to sleep, so the idea of these little creatures partying and causing trouble at night was where these gremlins came from. They were named gremlins in the movie because Billy’s neighbor, Mr. Futterman (Dick Miller), claimed that “gremlins” were unseen creatures that ruined America’s military equipment, and since most of the little creatures started their destruction with household items, the name seemed fitting. Despite being pretty entertaining, it’s a little too goofy for me to say it’s a great movie all year round. Luckily, if you watch it around Christmas, you’re going to enjoy it much more, despite its initial releasing being in the summer. Oh yeah! Almost forgot! Has one of the best theme songs out of movies from the 80’s, despite that theme not being played in its entirety until about halfway through. Holy shit, this movie is also 2 hours long, and supposedly there was a 2 hour, 40 minute cut out there initially. Even the special effects and silly humor can only carry you so long, and this movie probably could have been 20 minutes shorter.
Wolfman Moon Scale