Gremlins Cover Have you ever wondered why when things go wrong, that sometimes there is no explanation for this what so ever? It could be mishap? It could be misfortune? It could be mushrooms? But then again, maybe it could be something to do with this film? One, Directed by Joe Dante; and Starring: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, and Judge Reinhold. It was made in 1984, and lasted for 104-minutes.


Picture the scene; an inventive Father goes to a reclusive Chinese man, and then shrewdly buys from his grandson a gift so that he can give it to his hard-working son, because he will not he around that much over the Christmas period.

The father is Randall Peltzer (Hoyt Axton) – the son is Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan) – and the gift is a cute creature called a Mogwai (aptly christened ‘Gizmo’).

Though, there are three provisos that also come with this ‘gift’ as well: Firstly, Gizmo is not allowed near bright lights – because it could kill him. Secondly, Gizmo is not allowed to get wet – for reasons I will come to later. And thirdly, Gizmo is not allowed to eat after midnight – please see previous missive.

Now I am sure that you will agree with me, when I say that all of these instructions appear to be pretty straightforward directives, right? Well, at first they do – because Billy and Gizmo just have a swell time together, with both of them safe and sound within Billy’s bedroom, surrounded by his artistic wares.

However, one fateful night, the second directive comes under scrutiny, and Gizmo gets wet.

Opps! – Big mistake – because due to this mishap, Gizmo hatches five other Mogwai’s from his body, and these little critters have a plan in mind to instigate the third directive, and eat after midnight.

Granted, this does not happen until Billy takes one of these ‘other Mogai’s’ to a scientist friend of his first, so that he can find out what is actually going on with these ‘bundles of fun’. But, eventually, the proverbial snacking hour comes into play, thus transforming these ‘others’ into something that no-one ever thought possible – Gremlins.

Yep – that is right – I said ‘Gremlins’ – a motley crew of gruff and jovial creatures, whom terrorise the neighborhood with their own brand of anarchy. They attack Billy’s scientist friend in his lab. They attack Billy’s mother, Lynn (Frances Lee McCain), at home. And they harass Billy’s girl pal, Kate Beringer (Phoebe Cates), whist she is at work. Worst still, is that one of these damn creatures (let’s call him Stripe, huh?) is able to take a dip into a public swimming pool, and then create an army of Gremlins to go on the rampage throughout the entire town.

Now I am sure that you will agree, that this turn of events is not turning out like ‘Snow White and the Seven Drafts’, huh? And the police can corroborate this fact as well. Though I suppose that is why what next transpires is a somewhat dramatic and somber affair all in all. As creatures burn – salvation is comes in a toy car – and Mogwai’s return home in a hand basket.

OK. So let me just get something straight. ‘Gremlins’ is an all time classic film which has it all. Horror. Comedy. A simple story-line. A ‘of it’s day’ great cast. And a memorable bunch of little creatures, whom made the term ‘Bright Light – Bright Light’ a household phrase.

Gremlins Movie PosterHowever, prior to its release -- and just after it too -- this movie had a number of contentions to deal with as well. Such as: (1) Initially, the plot of this film was a much darker and sordid story – resulting in a number of scenes having to be rewritten or omitted, because the producers wanted it to be more jovial in tone [like the ‘Ghostbusters’]. (2) The director of this piece, Joe Dante, wanted this film to comprise a mixture of up and coming stars [like Phoebe Cates, and Judge Reinhold], relative unknowns [like Zach Galligan], and seasoned veterans [like Hoyt Axton], so that he could juxtapose the performances amongst the various scenes – plus plot styles. (3) The creator of the Gremlins, Chris Columbus, first devised the visual imagery behind this creature, after spotting a number of ravenous rats in his attic. (4) One of the film’s producers, Steven Spielberg, wanted the infamous Phoebe Cates parental loss scenes omitted from the movie, because he did not understand if it was meant to be funny or not. However, the film’s director, Joe Dante, overturned this decision, sighting that this scene optimised the whole movie in conception – because should it be funny or scary? (5) There are a number of film homage’s in this film – most notably the cinema scene, which was a pastiche to the Steven Spielberg film ‘1941’. (6) More people were meant to die in this film than actually did. Such as Billy’s Mother, neighbor, friend, and boss, Judge Reinhold. (7) A number of Judge Reinhold scenes were cut from the final print for artistic reasons and pace. (8) A certain Afro-American contingent, stated that the ‘Gremlins’ were meant to represent their race. Please note, this accusation was quickly cut down by the makers of this movie not so long after it was made. (9) A number of film critiques blasted this film too – stating that the plot was thin, and the humor was crass [f*ck them]. And (10) The origin and the concept behind the term ‘Gremlin’, originated from World War 2, when army personal used this phrase to blame any mishap or misfortune.

Gismo the Gremlins

Gremlins Stripe
OK, so now that the history is out of the way with, what did I think about ‘Gremlins’?  Well, personally speaking, I just love this film. It just ticks off so many boxes from my proverbial happy sack, that I cannot hate it at all. For a start, all the actors do a bang up job in their performances – even if they do come across a caricatures overall. Next, even though I do feel that the plot was rather thin in its conception, the personality and the through-line more than make up for this – especially where the Gremlins were concerned. After that, I would have to say that the Gremlins do steal the show for me – as my own personal favorite scenes out of this piece, were the ones where they were goofing around. And finally, the mixture of comedy, horror, suspense, old school charm, and classic tunes, made this film precisely what it is – a true classic of eighties cinema.

Well, come on – how can you not love a Gremlin? Especially if one of the little bugger is trying to kill you by sticking your head into the fire?


Class creatures in a can.


GREMLINS GREMLINS Reviewed by David Andrews on January 25, 2012 Rating: 5
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