Ho Ho Ho, Here Comes Gizmo
Released back in 1984 "Gremlins" was not only one of the year's most popular movies but still remains a favourite, attracting new audiences each year when it usually gets shown around Christmas time. What makes "Gremlins" so good is the combination of writer Chris Columbus and director Joe Dante who have delivered this fun mix of comedy and family friendly horror as we have this cute little creature, a Mogwai called Gizmo who melts hearts when in a Santa hat but turns into a little monster if rules are broken. That leads to action, adventure as are heroes played by Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates try to save the day.
In a rush to get home inventor Randall Peltzer (Hoyt Axton) spots a little Chinese curiosity shop and goes in to find his son Billy (Zach Galligan) a Christmas present. It is where he finds the cutest little fur ball ever known as a Mogwai and manages to buy it from the shop assistant. But the Mogwai comes with 3 rules: 1) Keep it away from bright light, 2) Don't get any water on it, and 3) Never, never ever feed it after midnight. Back home and Billy loves his new pet which he names Gizmo, dressing it in a Santa hat, but unfortunately some water accidentally spills on the fur ball causing it to give birth to several other fur balls. But these other Mogwai are not like Gizmo, they are mischievous and lead by one called Stripe manage to break the other rules, turning them into monsters and forcing Billy, his girlfriend Kate (Phoebe Cates - Fast Times at Ridgemont High) and Gizmo to try and save the town before it is over run with Gremlins!
Here is the truth "Gremlins" is a great movie, fun at Christmas or to be honest at any time of the year and a big part of that is down to writer Chris Columbus. His imaginative story is brilliant from start to finish, from the eccentricity of Randall and his inventions to the town of Kingston Falls which with a name like that tips its hat to another Christmas classic "It's a Wonderful Life" which was set in Bedford Falls. In fact there are numerous other elements which pay homage to Frank Capra's classic including the character of mean Mrs. Deagle who blames Billy's dog for knocking the head of her snowman ornament. I wouldn't say that "Gremlins" is a nostalgic movie but has just the right amount of respect for Christmas classics to make it appeal to an older audience as well.
Now Columbus's story is the start to why "Gremlins" is so good but then director Joe Dante deserves just as much praise for bringing it to life in a fun, family friendly horror sort of way. There is the cute fun early on as we have Gizmo in the Santa hat and basically acting adorable but this cuteness evolves into 60's style horror fun when we have the other fur balls lead by stripe turn into gremlins and go on the rampage through the town. None of it is really scary and compared to what passes by the certification board these days you would even say that to call it a horror would be misleading. But the horror of these evil gremlins causing chaos through the town, in the movie theater and for Billy's neighbour Murray Futterman, brilliantly played by Dick Miller, provides some amusing frights and some memorable scenes such as when one gremlin meets his messy end in a microwave.
But here is the real reason why "Gremlins" still gains fans when new audiences watch it, it is the cuteness of Gizmo be it in a Santa hat or not. A few years back there was speculation of another sequel or a reboot and someone said to appeal to new audiences they would use CGI. Trust me that wouldn't work because between the Gizmo puppet and the animatronics versions this little ball of fur has personality, has cuteness and is basically adorable, which I don't believe can truly be captured by CGI. It is why "Gremlins" is still so popular because Gizmo is different and adorably different.
So Gizmo is the star of "Gremlins" but that shouldn't take anything away from the actors with the likes of Hoyt Axton, Dick Miller, Judge Reinhold and Corey Feldman all delivering enjoyable performances. And then there is Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates who are shall we say pleasant, maybe a bit weak at times but then in a way that is how their characters are meant to be, nice guys who save the town.
What this all boils down to is that "Gremlins" is an absolutely brilliant movie what ever time of year you watch it. Brilliant story, great direction, good acting and the cutest little creatures that you could ever want, even if they can turn into little monsters.
Tags: Christmas Movies