movie-review_-gremlinsWarner Bros.
1984
PG

“You say you hate Washington’s Birthday or Thanksgiving and nobody cares, but you say you hate Christmas and people treat you like you’re a leper.”

Don’t ever get it wet. Keep it away from bright light. And no matter how much it cries, no matter how much it begs…never, ever feed it after midnight. With these instructions, young Billy Peltzer takes possession of his cuddly new pet. Billy will get a whole lot more than he bargained for.

Say what you will about the 1980s. I realize that there are many out there that weren’t even born in the era that gave us many a pop culture item that kids nowadays wear “ironically”, or however they’re doing things nowadays. I pity those who have never known the magical whimsy that came with such imaginative tales that sprung from the era that gave us Steven Spielberg’s peek work in the fantastic, inspiring others to release such classics as…well, this movie right here: Gremlins.

Yeah, I know. The dismount and nailing the landing could have uses a bit of work, but I’m old. No shame whatsoever. Anyway…

I would think that, at this point, pretty much everybody knows about Gremlins. In that “I haven’t seen it, but I know about it” kind of way, I would think. If you haven’t seen it, well…again, I pity you. Because, in my not-so-humble opinion, Gremlins seemed to capture that bit of lightning in a bottle, mixing the whimsical family comedy with dark fantasy horror elements in a way that just inexplicably worked.

In case you’re wondering, I wasn’t able to get around to watching Gremlins until much later. This was due to my parents being rather strict as to what I could and could not watch as a mere grade-schooler. And since Gremlins had that verboten-until-viewed-first-by-the-parental-units PG rating, they deemed it too scary for my 10-year-old self to watch. Of course, this necessitated me to rely not only on my school chums who were able to watch it before me to experience the movie vicariously, but also with the special promotion that the local Hardee’s did, with individual book-and-record movie adaptation that came at a special price when you ordered some kind of combo, I can’t remember exactly. The problem was, since we went into the town that had said Hardee’s rather infrequently, we only got one of the multi-part set that was in the middle of the story. We didn’t get any more of those. I have no idea why.

Regardless, I finally was able to watch the movie a couple of years later, when we bought it on VHS, and despite all of the hype that my over-imagination built up, after watching it for the first time, IT WAS THE MOST AWESOME THING EVER. Yes, even after only having the plushy dolls and various other promotional brick-a-brack for visual references, and taking what I could piece together from second-hand descriptions and filling in the blanks with my imagination, Gremlins stil managed to exceed my fairly high expectations, and then some. Which is kind of a rare thing.

I think that the major part of what makes Gremlins such a classic was the juxtaposition of what is essentially a Christmas comedy injected with a healthy dose of dark fantasy and horror. And like a peanut butter, jelly and bolognia sandwich with cheese, it seems like an unholy combination, but it works and is delicious, I swear (stop making that face).

The story should be very familiar by now: Small town young adult receives a gift of a completely adorable furry creature of myth that comes with three specific rules of care (the last of which is the topic of many a pedantic discussion), the rules are broken pretty much immediately, and wackiness ensues.

Look, I can go on and on about how amazing this movie is. I could also go into specifics as to my favorite scenes and quotes. No, I’m not going to. If you have seen this, you understand what I’m saying. If you haven’t, for whatever reason you’re using to not watch it (and I hope it’s not that “It was from before I was born” non-argument crap), get over it and watch Gremlins. Multiple times. I implore you. Do so now.

Advertisements