Non Canon Review: Gremlins

DECEMBER 24, 2007


Ah, Gremlins. Easily the best “Tiny monster” movie of all time (tied with Gremlins 2 anyway), and it holds up remarkably well. The Arclight in Hollywood showed it tonight as a holiday treat, and though they fucked up (it was supposed to be a 21+ screening, which meant you can drink while you watch, but it wasn’t), it was still a blast to see it on the big screen.

Let’s get down to brass tacks: Phoebe Cates’ amazing Santa/Christmas Eve story is possibly the most mean-spirited thing ever said in a PG film more or less aimed at children (and the fact that they parody the scene in Gremlins 2 is just fucking brilliant). Considering I saw this as a kid, along with Silent Night, Deadly Night it’s a wonder I believed in Santa at all. Of course, when I was a kid I didn’t really find the movie as funny as I do now (nor did the in-jokes mean anything to me), so it was great to watch it again as an adult (it’s been at LEAST 15 years since I’ve seen the whole film) and see it in a different light.

It’s also amazing how much of the film I remembered, considering how long it had been since I last saw it. And I totally forgot until just now when I began writing my review, I had an audio tape reading of the kids’ tie in book that I used to listen to all the time. It had a lot of dialogue from the film mixed in with a narrator. So that’s probably why some fairly innocuous lines (“He’s old. Besides, we need the money.”) remained stuck in my head.

One thing I never noticed before was Mr. Futterman (Dick Miller, duh) standing outside the bank as Mrs. Deagle makes her way inside. Now, maybe there was a scene that explained this, but it makes no sense at all that he is there, since Billy just turned down a ride from him claiming that he had to get to the bank before he got fired. But hey, more Dick Miller is always a good thing. Also, Futterman is a pretty racist character. Claiming American cars are superior is one thing, but he takes it to extremes, blaming foreigners for everything; even saying he should have bought a Zenith TV. Come on man, no one wants a Zenith.

The score is great too. I was never a big Jerry Goldsmith fan, but this score is top notch. The CD even has the Warner Bros. fanfare on it for some reason. If you walk out of this movie without humming Gizmo’s theme, you’re some sort of alien.

It’s a shame that the sequel didn’t do very well at the box office, as it pretty much killed any chance of a 3rd film (though rumors abound that one is being made, possibly without Joe Dante). The mix of comedy and horror rarely worked better in this type of film (Tremors being the only one I can think of that even came close), and the amount of film in-jokes and ‘over their head’ humor makes this an ideal choice when you want to watch something you loved as a kid. Since it’s been so long since this type of movie has been made, I speak for myself and Zach Galligan’s agent when I say Gremlins 3 (but only with Dante) is very much needed.

What say you?


  1. Yep, this is the movie that made me stop believing in Santa! Also, I think this, along with Temple of Doom, is the movie responsible for the creation of the PG-13 rating.

  2. I was the youngest of five, and have always been cynical, but I don't remember ever believing in Santa. I was nine when this came out (and I'm pretty sure I got to see this in the theater) so I'm sure it only served to strengthen my unbelief.

    Anyway, I loved this as a kid and I love it now! It's been so long since I've seen it, but I remembered so much about it. For some reason, I have always found the way Hoyt Axton says "Bathroom Buddy" to be extremely comforting. Coupling all of his crazy inventions with his lovability quotient, made it so amusing to watch the other characters put up with him. What a great father to have!

    There are tons of great gremlin deaths: The mom got two of them: her brutal knifing on the counter and the timeless microwave explosion should've been nowhere near a PG movie, but thank God they were. I loved the sword beheading and subsequent burning. But the best death was Mrs. Deagle. I rarely laugh out loud when watching a horror movie alone, but I was cheering through that one.

    Oh, and Corey Feldman on film is just pure, concentrated nostalgia.

    This being a Spielberg production I half remembered the mom being played by Dee Wallace-Stone, but it was actually Frances Lee McCain (both are great movie moms). Wallace-Stone was actually the mom in Critters.


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