Not the 90's Christmas Edition - Gremlins Review (1984)


My History With the Film:
I honestly cannot remember the first time I saw Gremlins. It came out a year after I was born and was one of those movies I think all kids growing in the 80’s saw over-and-over again. Gizmo was the pet we all wanted and the movie offered enough horror and goo to really keep us coming back to watch the film. 

There is a huge debate on whether Gremlins is actually a horror movie or not. I feel like it’s a family movie with horror elements, as strange as that may sound. It has been several years since I last saw Gremlins and upon my most recent viewing right after Thanksgiving, I found myself a little astonished at how graphic the movie really was. I love that films were made in the 80’s without a specific audience in mind, it made for unique movies that don’t feel like they come from the same cookie-cutter factory that most movies come from nowadays.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A teenage boy is given a unique pet that comes with a strict set of rules that when no obeyed causes the pet to turn into an aggressive monster.

What I Liked About It:
-The animatronics are great and Howie Mandell knocks it out of the park as Gizmo’s voice.

-The movie just feels like the 80’s and it’s the perfect mixture of both Steven Spielberg and Joe Dante.

 -The music is iconic for a reason. It’s so well used throughout the film and really sticks with you after watching it.

 -As I mentioned earlier, I love that this film wasn’t sent through a dozen filters to make it the most palatable for all audiences. The film has no problem dipping into some really dark stuff and I’m not just referring to a Gremlin being cooked in a microwave. Kate’s monologue about her father’s death was horrifying.

What I Didn't Like About It:
 -It blew my mind when Gizmo first gets wet and is obviously screaming out in pain as the other Gremlin hatchlings are exploding from his back that neither Billy nor Pete seem to care one bit about Gizmo. It was arguably the most disturbing scene in the whole movie.

-The ending was not the happy ending we all wanted, but it was probably the mature and responsible ending which was most realistic considering what happened.

-The movie is about twenty minutes too long. The original cut was 2 hours and 40 minutes, which I could not imagine sitting through.

Additional Notes:
-The set for Kingston Falls is the same one used in Back to the Future.

-Apparently the studio felt the film featured too many Gremlins, and sent a note to Joe Dante and Steven Spielbeg. Spielberg responded with offering to cut them all out of the movie and retitled it “People.”

-This film, along with Red Dawn, and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom are credited with help creating the PG-13 rating. Gremlins was rated PG, which many felt was too tame, but it wasn't hard enough for an R rating.

-All of the Gremlins were animatronic and cost between $30,000 and $40,000 apiece. They were brought onto the set in trunks and guarded by security to make sure they weren’t stolen.

-It was released the same day as Ghostbusters.

-Originally Stripe was going to be Gizmo as he turned into a Gremlin but Steven Spielberg felt that at least one Gremlin should remain good so that the audiences could relate.

-The original script was much darker included several on-screen deaths including Billy’s mom. There was also a scene where the Gremlins were at McDonalds eating people instead of burgers.

-It was the first movie in years to use the Warner Brother’s shield logo. The logo was restored for the movie and there was an attempt to include the Loony Tunes short “Falling Hare” where Bugs Bunny plays a Gremlin. The Loony Tunes deal didn’t work out but the shield logo was used.

-Mushroom, who played Billy’s dog, was also Lance Henrikson’s dog in Pumpkinhead.

-Gremlins was the fourth highest grossing film of 1984. Ahead of it were:
1. Beverly Hills Cop
2. Ghostbusters
3. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Rating:
Gremlins is a classic. It still looks great and is a fun movie to watch. It features some great voice work and fantastic animatronics, but it does run a little long and has some dry spots in it. I’m attempting to assemble a yearly Christmas watch list and was hoping to add Gremlins to it, but I just don’t see myself watching this film every single year. I think I’ve just seen it too many times in the past.

Everyone should see Gremlins once, and while it isn’t a perfect movie, it’s a fun movie that is well worth your time. I rate it a three out of five and say it’s a high priority rental.

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