A classic. Gremlins is so much fun that even when there is an (odd) quiet moment of contemplation it is filled with a dark sense of humor:
Kate: Now I have another reason to hate Christmas.
Billy: What are you talking about?
Kate: The worst thing that ever happened to me was on Christmas. It was so horrible. It was Christmas Eve. I was 9 years old. Me and Mom were decorating the tree, waiting for Dad to come home from work. A couple hours went by. Dad wasn’t home. So Mom called the office. No answer. Christmas Day came and went, and still nothing. So the police began a search. Four or five days went by. Neither one of us could eat or sleep. Everything was falling apart. It was snowing outside. The house was freezing, so I went to try to light up the fire. That’s when I noticed the smell. The firemen came and broke through the chimney top. And me and Mom were expecting them to pull out a dead cat or a bird. And instead they pulled out my father. He was dressed in a Santa Claus suit. He’d been climbing down the chimney…his arms loaded with presents. He was gonna surprise us. He slipped and broke his neck. He died instantly. And that’s how I found out there was no Santa Claus.
I’m still not sure if writer Chris Columbus was trying to add a somber moment or one of the more slyly written pieces of comedy. I tend to think the latter. It’s become my favorite scene not starring a gremlin or Gizmo in the 80’s icon.
I’ll take the nostalgia hit on this one and keep on going. The film holds up, as my seven year old daughter and eleven year old son can testify. They both love and hate this film. They hate the scary hatching of the gremlins after the multiplied Mogwai eat some nasty looking fried chicken after midnight. The scene with the mom discovering she’s in a house full of green devils scares them every time but they also find themselves laughing and cheering as mom disposes of each one in her own determined and creative manner. For each moment my daughter hides her eyes, she can’t help but peek, lest she miss the next funny, action packed sequence. My son yells at the characters for foolishly not realizing their demise is only footsteps away; footsteps the characters take because curiosity is not just for cats but also for the bulk of comedy/horror film casts. Of course, we all cheer when Gizmo finally gets his chance to mimic Clark Gable in To Please a Lady and takes the Barbie mobile for a spin in order to hunt down the leader of the pack, Stripe.
The numerous gags and references to past films makes Gremlins feel like a bit of an homage to cinema all while being an action packed comedy. Director Joe Dante’s love letter to cinema is a lot different than say Martin Scorsese’s with Hugo. Call me silly, but I much prefer the antics of Dante’s Gremlins. They just don’t make movies like Gremlins anymore, which is a shame.