31 Days of Horror: Gremlins (1984)

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If there was ever a movie about the consequences of animal negligence, this was it…and oh, how I enjoy it so much.

On the wide range of horror spectrum, this falls right into satisfying and campy horror. With it’s bare number of jump squares, Gremlins is not the kind of movie to make you jump from the merest movement of shadows. It is the kind of movie that makes you really glad to not live in a small town of slow-acting knuckleheads.

A salesmen wanders into a trinket store in Chinatown to hawke his new invention. He is distracted by the cute cooing of a strange creature, called a Mogwai. Despite the storeowners misgivings, the Mogwai is sold as a gift to the salesmen family. The family immediately adores the mogwai, who is now named Gizmo but unfortunately they did not follow the “simple” rules in caring for a mogwai:

  1. No bright light (within seconds of being home, flash photography is being used)
  2. Don’t get him wet
  3. Don’t feed him after midnight (although technically, it’s always after midnight. So when are you supposed to feed them?

Within less than a day, all of these rules are broken and the town is in deep, deep trouble…and all before Christmas.

As an adult re-watching this movie, I was horrified by how rough they treated poor Gizmo! Placing him in a gift wrapped box with no air holes, flash photography, the water treatment, and that’s just the beginning. By the end of the movie, I was pretty glad the family went through hell. It serves them right for mistreating poor,sweet Gizmo. As for the town grump, good! Channeling the Wicked Witch by threatening to harm a dog who knocked over your dumb looking Christmas ornaments will result in a dumb accident.

The definite star of the movie is Gizmo and the gremlins that spawn from him. For a town as small and boring as Kingston Falls, these creatures were the best thing to happen to it. Despite my aversion to horror, the intensely detailed animatronics have the gremlins are amazing. In this over saturated CGI landscape we currently live in, Gremlins is complete art. The facial expressions, antics, energy, and use of the Gremlins is so much to watch.

The other coolest part of this movie is that the humans don’t win against this battle. From beginning to end, the humans in this town are just useless fodder for the gremlins entertainment. With the exception of one surprisingly resourceful housewife. Once her kitchen has been overrun, the placid housewife quickly transformed into a killing force, not even hesitating with the stabbings.

For it’s comedic moments there are some scary bits into (especially the fountain dissolving scene) that can be alarming the wee ones. Otherwise, it is completely enjoyable as a Halloween or as a Christmas entertainment.

 

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