Gremlins (1984)

Gremlins (1984)

“They’re watching Snow White. And they’re loving it!”

A cute, furry creature bought at a Chinese curio shop spawns a breed of evil Gremlins who take over the town of Kingston Falls.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Black Comedy
  • Dick Miller Films
  • Horror
  • Joe Dante Films
  • Mutant Monsters
  • Small Town America

Response to Peary’s Review:
Although this Joe Dante-directed film (a “summer box-office sensation”) was marketed squarely at my age group when it was released (I was ten at the time), I never did see it. Truth be told, I used to be deathly afraid of horror movies (five minutes of Carrie gave me nightmares for years), and suspected that Gremlins would be a bit too scary for me to handle. Seeing it now for the first time as an adult, I have to say I think I was right; as Peary notes, the young kids who would most enjoy the nifty special effects and muppet-like “Gizmo” (the original Gremlin) probably “shouldn’t see this movie.” At any rate, about halfway through watching it recently, I suddenly realized that the perfect word to describe it might be “surreal”: it’s sort of like The Muppet Movie meets Dawn of the Dead meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers meets E.T. meets Alien meets The Karate Kid meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre meets The Wizard of Oz meets It’s a Wonderful Life — and I could go on!

Many scenes are truly bizarre — like the one where Kate (Phoebe Cates) explains to Billy (Zach Galligan) why she hates Christmas (her father died while stuck in the chimney dressed as Santa Claus!), or the one where the Gremlins take over a movie theater and gleefully watch Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. None of it really makes a whole lot of sense — and just when you think things couldn’t be cozier, they suddenly turn, as Peary puts it, “vicious and cruel”. A deeper analysis of Gremlins kept creeping up on me as I was watching it — are these ugly, perversely hedonistic reptilian buggers meant to represent a Pandora’s box of the world’s evils, everything most obscene about humanity which lurks just beyond our naive grasp? Hmmm…

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Amazing puppetry work
  • Gruesome special effects
  • A truly surreal, eclectic plot

Must See?
Yes. This classic ’80’s blockbuster should be seen by any true film fanatic.


  • Historically Relevant


One thought on “Gremlins (1984)

  1. Yes – a must; as you state, any true film fanatic would find this (odd to say) a delight since, as you note, the influences are endless. As well, a successful mix of comedy and horror is not all that common and ‘Gremlins’ is a rousing success-esp. from the moment the premise kicks in and Darlene Love is singing, ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)’ during the opening credits. Many highlights follow, the topper probably being the bad Gremlins watching ‘Snow White’ and “loving it” in spite of the fact that they’re demonic. I have a soft spot, though, for the kitchen invasion, when we see a side of Mom we couldn’t have dreamed! After he contributed the high point segment of ‘Twilight Zone: The Movie’, I had big hopes for Dante as a film director. Can’t imagine how that promise could have gotten off-track; the bulk of his major work has been a disappointment. However, he did manage to make ‘Gremlins 2: The New Batch’ the kind of sequel that made sense, as it ‘logically’ pumps up the jam.

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