Gremlins (Joe Dante, 1984)
A boy (Zack Galligan) inadvertently breaks 3 important rules concerning his new pet and unleashes a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town.
This Christmas classic doesn’t need much introduction. It is about a young man who lives with his parents and receives from his inventor father a cute little creature named a mogwai. But responsibilities come with this particular pet. There are three rules: No water, No light, No food after midnight. Just like a classic Horror film code that will be broke by the young naïve man. Just like a metaphor on adulthood where a man must make errors to grow up and become a big figure: husband and father.
Written by Chris Columbus (writer: The Goonies, director: Home Alone, the first two Harry Potter films) and directed by Joe Dante, a team that reflected the 1980’s like John Hughes and Steven Spielberg. The later is in fact producer on Gremlins. It is efficient in the way that we know we are watching a movie that involves creatures out of this world but we accept it and we enter in the way it is treated just like a classic Horror film where special effects are special effects and we like to be entertained.
Gremlins has this way of mixing comedy and Horror just like Army of Darkness, which involve more violence and gore, but uses the same kind of dark humor. Dante’s film might be more general public but its charm and value isn’t less appreciated.
The sets, obviously it was not filmed outside but in a studio have this artificial winter that only movies like The Shining are displaying. Some snow that we know is totally faked but it gives a magic touch to the images. Like the cars that are completely recovered with this white material.
Overall, I saw this as a teen a long time ago, fifteen years ago I’d say, and I remembered enjoying it a lot. With my recent rewatch I must admit not being as impressed but I was entertained and I enjoyed every minute of it. This is what I would call a Christmas classic that is set during Christmas time, like Die Hard, but it doesn’t need Christmas to be special or something. It already has a particular atmosphere and tone that few films manage to bring.