Gremlins (1984)

gremlins poster 1984 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great creatures, dark comedy

Some sketchy acting, too dark for some

Movie Info

Movie Name: Gremlins

Studio: Amblin Entertainment

Genre(s): Comedy/Horror/Seasonal

Release Date(s): June 8, 1984

MPAA Rating: PG

gremlins christmas carolling hd

Here we come a kill-o-ing!

Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan) has a new pet for Christmas.  It is cute, cuddly, but it has some issues.  If it is exposed to sunlight, it can die; if you get it wet, it multiplies; if you feed it after midnight, it could kill you.  When Billy breaks the rules, the town of Kingston Falls becomes overrun with Gremlins bent on causing havoc.  If the Gremlins aren’t stopped, their destruction could spread.

Directed by Joe Dante and written by Christopher Columbus, Gremlins was holiday horror comedy.  Steven Spielberg produced the film, and the film was met with criticism over the dark tone and PG rating (it along with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom led to the creation of PG-13).  The movie did perform well at the box-office and has become a anti-holiday movie favorite.

I badly wanted to see Gremlins when it was released.  I remember the commercials, had toys and coloring books, and even ate the Gremlins cereal…but I had to wait until video to see it.  With a lot of anticipation, Gremlins was a fun spot in childhood…it was a horror movie for kids that parents (sometimes foolishly) allowed you to see.

gremlins gizmo santa hat hd

Worst…present…ever (well, maybe after Johnny Switchblade or Bag-O-Glass)

Gremlins was a mash of lots of things.  It has elements of horror, fairy tales, and old legends (and as a result stereotypes).  These make for an interesting and fun story with a lot of lairs.  It isn’t meant to be taken seriously and is more of a comedy than anything else.  There aren’t a ton of mainstream dark, horror comedies, much less ones aimed at younger viewers.  That is one of the things I think critics and viewers had a bit of a problem getting.  Stories like Phoebe Cates’ discovery of “no Santa Claus” are inherently funny, in a dark way, but were slammed by parents, etc.  The movie actually lightened up the original script which had things like the mother’s head being cut off by the Gremlins, and Gizmo actually becoming Stripe.

It has a nice cast.  Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates are a bit over their heads as the leads, but a strong supporting cast that includes Hoyt Axton as Billy’s father and Frances Lee McCain (typical ’80s mom) as his mother.  Roger Corman’s standby Dick Miller plays Murray Futterman, a man obsessed with his American-made snow plow and a young Corey Feldman as Billy’s the creepy young friend Pete (Billy was originally suppose to be a kid, but his character was aged to a twenty-something…his friend wasn’t).  Judge Reinhold plays the slimy “We’re talking HBO” Gerald Hopkins and “Kiss-My-Grits” Polly Holiday (Alice’s Flo) plays the perfectly awful Mrs. Deagle.

gremlins stripe ending hd

Every ’80s movie needs a maniacal villain waving a gun around!!

The Gremlins and Mogwais themselves are such great creations.  The designs gave them real personality and both Stripe and Gizmo have really expressive faces that allow the viewer to accept them as reality…and except for a few claymation moments, they are reality without computer enhancement (yeah some of the Gremlins look like rubber dummies but I can forgive them).

Gremlins is a fun movie that can be enjoyed as a dark holiday classic.  It is fun, it is edgy, but it is safe at the same time, and that is something that older kids and adults can enjoy.  See Gremlins if you haven’t seen it, and if you have seen it, when you’re having a “dark” Christmas see it again.  Gremlins was followed by Gremlins 2:  The New Batch in 1990 which took a lot of the criticisms of the film as fodder for the script.

Related Links:

Gremlins 2:  The New Batch (1990)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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