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  • Writer's pictureAllan Major

Gremlins 1984 Reviewed

Featured Image For Gremlins 1984 Reviewed.   Poster of "Gremlins" featuring a mysterious box with furry creatures inside.
Cute, clever, mischievous, and dangerous – 'Gremlins' will make you think twice about midnight snacks.

Imagine the warmth of a Christmas evening, the glimmering lights reflecting off snow-covered streets, and the cozy familiarity of home. Now, shatter that with the chaotic arrival of malevolent creatures wreaking havoc in a small town. This is the intriguing juxtaposition presented by "Gremlins," a film that masterfully blends comedy and horror under the keen direction of Joe Dante. The movie, released in 1984, stands as a testament to the inventive storytelling that defined a generation, and it invites us to revisit Kingston Falls, where nothing is as it seems.

Key Takeaways From This Film

  • Blend of Horror and Comedy: "Gremlins" expertly balances horror and comedy, creating a unique viewing experience that can make you laugh one moment and shiver the next.

  • Inventive Storytelling: The film's narrative, crafted by Joe Dante and Chris Columbus, is a fresh and inventive take on the creature feature genre, blending elements of fantasy, horror, and comedy seamlessly.

  • Rules of the Mogwai: The three crucial rules for caring for a mogwai—never expose it to bright light, never get it wet, and never feed it after midnight—are central to the plot and lead to catastrophic consequences when broken.

  • Impact of Consumerism: The film subtly critiques consumerism and the unforeseen consequences of bringing foreign elements into our lives without understanding them fully.

  • Memorable Characters: Characters like Billy Peltzer, Gizmo, and Kate Beringer leave a lasting impression, each bringing depth and relatability to the fantastical story.

  • Iconic Creature Design: The practical effects used to create the gremlins and Gizmo are iconic and have become a benchmark for creature design in film.

  • Christmas Setting: The juxtaposition of the holiday season with the chaos caused by the gremlins creates a unique and memorable backdrop for the film.

  • Satirical Elements: The film includes satirical takes on various aspects of American culture, from small-town life to the commercialization of holidays.

  • Influence on Genre: "Gremlins" has had a lasting impact on the horror-comedy genre, influencing numerous films and becoming a template for balancing scares with laughs.

  • Cultural References: The film is filled with cultural references, including nods to classic movies like "Snow White," which the gremlins hilariously watch and react to.

A woman is afraid while watching Gremlins from 1984.
The mischievous creatures brought a chill to her spine, their chaos unfolding in the dim light.

Billy Peltzer, played with an earnest charm by Zach Galligan, is the quintessential small-town boy with big dreams. When his inventor father, Rand Peltzer (Hoyt Axton), stumbles upon a mysterious shop in Chinatown and brings home a peculiar Christmas present—a furry creature known as a mogwai—the stage is set for an unforgettable narrative. This mogwai, named Gizmo, with its innocent eyes and cuddly demeanor, quickly wins our hearts. However, this gift comes with a stern set of rules: never expose it to bright lights, never get it wet, and never, ever feed it after midnight.

The brilliance of "Gremlins" lies in its ability to pivot from the cute and the cuddly to the darkly anarchic. The mogwai, once transformed by water, spawns a litter of nasty little gremlins that plunge the town into chaos. These gremlins are not just any creatures; they are embodiments of slapstick horror, blending laugh-out-loud moments with genuine fright. Joe Dante, known for his unique style, directs with a balance that keeps the audience both on edge and entertained. The practical effects, a hallmark of the era, bring these creatures to life in a way that CGI often fails to replicate.

The screenplay, written by Chris Columbus, is a tightrope walk between horror and comedy, a mix that could easily underwhelm if not for its precise execution. The dark comedy, evident in scenes like the infamous bar scene where gremlins mimic human vices, offers a satirical take on human nature. Phoebe Cates, as Billy's girlfriend Kate, delivers a memorable performance, particularly in her monologue about why she hates Christmas—a moment that grounds the fantastical elements in real human emotion.

"Gremlins" is more than just a horror-comedy; it's a commentary on the perils of consumerism and the unintended consequences of our actions. The film cleverly uses the gremlins as a metaphor for foreign things that disrupt the status quo, playing on both societal fears and the allure of the exotic. Producer Steven Spielberg's influence is palpable throughout, from the whimsical tone to the Spielbergian blend of wonder and terror.

The film's setting, the idyllic town of Kingston Falls, is a character in itself, reminiscent of the backlot towns of classic cinema. It's a place where everyone knows everyone, and the arrival of the gremlins turns this tight-knit community upside down. The use of practical effects, from the gremlins' mischievous antics to the chaotic destruction, adds a tactile realism that modern films often lack. Jerry Goldsmith's score underscores the film's shifting tones, enhancing both the whimsical and the eerie with equal prowess.

A man is afraid while watching Gremlins from 1984.
His heart raced as the cute Mogwai transformed into menacing gremlins, turning a cozy evening into a nightmare.

From Mogwai To Tormenting Little Monster

One cannot discuss "Gremlins" without acknowledging its impact on the industry. The film's blend of horror and comedy, coupled with its PG-13 rating, set a new standard for genre films. It paved the way for other classics like "Back to the Future" and "The Goonies," with its mix of campy humor and genuine scares. The character of Gizmo remains iconic, a cute and lovable creature that contrasts sharply with the nasty little gremlins it inadvertently spawns.

The legacy of "Gremlins" extends beyond its initial release. The sequel, "Gremlins 2: The New Batch," took the anarchic spirit of the original and amplified it, embracing an even more wacky and self-referential tone. The film's influence is evident in countless horror comedies that followed, and its unique blend of humor and horror remains a high-water mark for the genre.

As we revisit "Gremlins," it's impossible not to marvel at the film's ability to juggle so many disparate elements and weave them into a cohesive, entertaining whole. From the inventive gadgets of Rand Peltzer to the chaotic antics of the gremlins, every aspect of the film contributes to its enduring charm.

"Gremlins" is a film that transcends its genre, offering a darkly comedic take on the holiday season that is as relevant today as it was in 1984. Its mix of practical effects, sharp writing, and memorable performances creates a timeless piece that continues to delight and frighten audiences. So, as the holiday season approaches, remember the important rules: keep your mogwai away from bright lights, don't get it wet, and above all, never feed it after midnight. For in the world of "Gremlins," even the most innocent gift can unleash a world of chaos and comedy.

In conclusion, "Gremlins" is not just a film; it is an experience that encapsulates the magic of cinema. It's a rollercoaster of emotions that takes us from laughter to fear and back again, all within the familiar setting of a small-town Christmas. Directed by Joe Dante and brought to life by a stellar cast and crew, "Gremlins" remains a quintessential piece of 80s cinema, a film that continues to capture the imaginations of audiences new and old. So, if you haven't seen "Gremlins," or if it's been a while since your last viewing, there's no better time to rediscover this classic. It’s a wonderful life in Kingston Falls, until the gremlins arrive.

And that is Gremlins 1984 Reviewed. Another holiday classic horror movie that is good for the entire family. 

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If You Liked Gremlins You Might Also Like These Films

Ghostbusters (1984)

"Ghostbusters" follows a group of eccentric parapsychologists who start a ghost-catching business in New York City. Directed by Ivan Reitman and starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis, this film combines supernatural elements with comedy, much like "Gremlins." The team's battle against the paranormal and the film's iconic theme song have made it a beloved classic.

Beetlejuice (1988)

Directed by Tim Burton, "Beetlejuice" is a dark comedy that tells the story of a recently deceased couple who hire a mischievous ghost named Beetlejuice to scare away the new inhabitants of their home. Michael Keaton's performance as the titular character is both hilarious and creepy, making it a perfect fit for fans of "Gremlins" who enjoy a blend of horror and humor.

The Goonies (1985)

Directed by Richard Donner and produced by Steven Spielberg, "The Goonies" follows a group of kids who discover an old pirate map and set out on an adventure to find hidden treasure. This film, featuring Corey Feldman (who also appears in "Gremlins"), mixes humor, adventure, and a touch of the supernatural, capturing the same spirit of fun and excitement.

Critters (1986)

"Critters," directed by Stephen Herek, is a sci-fi horror comedy about small, furry aliens called Crites that escape from an intergalactic prison and terrorize a small rural town. The film's blend of humor, practical effects, and creature chaos is reminiscent of "Gremlins," making it a great choice for fans of mischievous, otherworldly creatures.

The Burbs (1989)

Directed by Joe Dante, the same director as "Gremlins," "The Burbs" stars Tom Hanks as Ray Peterson, a suburbanite who becomes convinced that his new neighbors are part of a satanic cult. This dark comedy combines suburban paranoia with Dante's signature style, providing a humorous and suspenseful narrative that fans of "Gremlins" will appreciate.

Gremlins 1984 Reviewed FAQs

Q: What is the movie Gremlins about?

A: "Gremlins" is a 1984 film directed by Joe Dante which follows a young man named Billy Peltzer who receives a strange creature called a mogwai as a Christmas gift from his father, Rand Peltzer, an inventor. The mogwai, named Gizmo, comes with three strict rules: never expose it to bright light, never get it wet, and never feed it after midnight. When these care guidelines are not followed, Gizmo spawns mischievous and malevolent gremlins that cause havoc in the small town of Kingston Falls, leading to both comedic and horrifying situations.

Q: Who directed the movie Gremlins?

A: "Gremlins" was directed by Joe Dante, known for his work in horror-comedy films. Dante’s direction expertly balances the film's blend of humor and horror, creating a unique cinematic experience.

Q: Is Gremlins considered a horror film or a comedy?

A: "Gremlins" is a unique mix of comedy and horror elements, creating a blend of dark humor and suspense. The film uses practical effects to bring the gremlins to life, making it both frightening and amusing. Its ability to shift seamlessly between laughs and scares has made it a classic in both genres.

Q: What role did Steven Spielberg play in Gremlins?

A: Steven Spielberg served as an executive producer for "Gremlins." His influence is evident in the film's blend of whimsical and terrifying elements. Spielberg's production company, Amblin Entertainment, was instrumental in the film’s development and success.

Q: What famous actor made an appearance in Gremlins?

A: Corey Feldman, known for his roles in iconic 80s films such as "The Goonies" and "Stand by Me," made an appearance in "Gremlins." He plays Pete Fountaine, a young friend of Billy Peltzer who helps care for Gizmo and witnesses the chaos that ensues.

Q: Are there any connections between Gremlins and the Indiana Jones films?

A: Yes, there is a connection between "Gremlins" and the Indiana Jones franchise through actor Keye Luke, who played Mr. Wing, the owner of the Chinatown shop where Gizmo is purchased. Keye Luke also appeared in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," which was released the same year as "Gremlins" (1984).

Q: What are some key scenes in Gremlins?

A: Some memorable scenes in "Gremlins" include the introduction of the mogwai Gizmo in the mysterious Chinatown shop, the chaotic transformation of the creatures into gremlins after getting wet, and the subsequent mayhem they cause in Kingston Falls. Notable scenes include the gremlins' attack on Billy's mother in the kitchen, the bar scene where they mimic human vices, and the suspenseful showdown in the town's movie theater where the gremlins watch "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." These scenes showcase the film's innovative use of practical effects and its balance of horror and comedy.

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