Xmas: 'Gremlins' (1984) Dir. Joe Dante
A different sort of Christmas movie, in the same vein as 'Die Hard', but this time with menacing monsters spreading fear and festive spirit with chaos and carnage in their wake...
Billy Peltzer (Galligan) receives a strange creature called a Mogwai as a pet, and calls it Gizmo (Mandel). Obtained at an old Chinese store, the Mogwai is nothing but cute and cuddly, if a little alien.
But Billy fails to care for Gizmo using a strict set of rules, and he begins to spawns other Mogwai who transform into small, destructive monsters who run riot across his small town of Kingston Falls, intent on causing carnage and amassing their numbers.
Billy and his girlfriend Kate (Cates), along with parents Rand (Axton) and Lynn (McCain) and neighbour Murray (Miller) are the only ones brave enough to fight back and save their town before the Gremlins take over and destroy everything...
The blend of black comedy and horror was a growing trend to win over film fans, but the novel idea of creating a new breed of horror, the Gremlins, won over audiences and was a huge marketing hit. Dante uses shocks and scares as much as making us laugh at the un-nerving actions the Gremlins take in causing havoc across the town.
Set at Christmas time, this is pleasant at times, all nice and festive, but then turns into a mini-nightmare with the innovative monsters screeching and clawing away on screen. Blood is shed and gore is thrown out (only from the Gremlins, fear not) and this could be the cause of many nightmares for younger children taken in by a seemingly innocent, creepy story. A great use of miniature work and special effects keep the film practical and the Gremlins one step away from actually existing; a welcome change from modern CGI monsters.
It has heart, and enough black comedy to make this a very mature classic Christmas offering away from Santa Claus and sugar coated candy canes.
A classic film of the time, and as popular a "anti" festive film as much as 'Die Hard' for the Christmas season. Wonderfully original with memorable characters, creatures and comedy to boot.
'Gremlins' is a Warner Brothers / Amblin Entertainment production