Cert: 15 Runtime: 106 mins Director: Joe Dante Starring: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates and Hoyt Axton
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
As this great film is being re-released in the cinemas over Christmas I thought I would make the brilliant Gremlins my blast from the past this week. Gremlins begins with inventor Rand Peltzer (Hoyt Axton) trying to find a quick gift for his son Billy (Zach Galligan) before returning home from a New York trip. He settles on a unique pet in a Chinatown curio shop–a cute, furry creature known as a Mogwai. Before he leaves, he is warned by the shop’s owner that three rules must be obeyed by a Mogwai owner: 1) Keep it away from bright light, 2) Don’t get any water on it, and 3) Never, never ever feed it after midnight. Rand takes note of these rules and returns home with the Mogwai to his idyllic small-town home of Kingston Falls. Rand’s gift is an instant hit: Billy loves his adorable new pet, naming it Gizmo and taking it everywhere he goes. Unfortunately, he and his friends also begin breaking the rules of Mogwai care. When water is accidentally spilled on Gizmo, it causes him to multiply and produce a number of mischievous little brothers. Among these is the mean-tempered Stripe. Soon enough, the new Mogwai get hold of some food after midnight and this causes them to change from cute fur-balls into nasty, scaly monsters dubbed ‘Gremlins.’
The first point I want to discuss about this movie is that of the great story behind it. It was very original and one that I liked. I enjoyed the idea of little menacing creatures causing havoc in an innocent little town, and the way that the Gremlins just take over. At the start of this film, the audience is aware that with the cute pet Gizmo (a Mogwai), comes much responsibility. I love the fact that there are three rules attached. If you break them, then all hell will break loose. It is an interesting concept and one I must say that worked. I feel that there has been some movies which have tried to copy the Gremlins concept which don’t even come close. The Critters (and there sequels) for example, were a poor attempt in trying to follow on from the Gremlins.The human cast of Gremlins was a pretty good one. The well known person from the Gremlins for me is the gorgeous Phoebe Cates. Her character in this film is full of hurt and regret, which the audience I am sure feel sorry for, plus she also helps save the day. I recently saw her very first movie, Fast times at Ridgemont High. That was a one hell of a teenage film.
Cates looked stunning in it as well. Playing the lead role of Billy Peltzer was Zach Galligan. Zach has hardly been heard of since the role of Billy in Gremlins (and the sequel). Yet I seem to ask myself the question, why? He was excellent in Gremlins and a good choice as the main character. I guess he has done some other movie which have been flops. This includes the 1994 comedy All Tied Up, starring the stunning Terri Hatcher.It’s now time to talk about the real ‘stars’ of this show. Yes, those little green monsters. All credit needs to go to puppet makers in the Gremlins. These ‘things’ looked so real. Special comment needs to go to the creator of the ‘Stripe’ Gremlin. He was an amazing character. I want to say that the character of Gizmo was very restricted. We hardly ever see the whole animal. I liked him much more the second time around. The Gremlins is a movie that has so much happen in a little time. While these creatures remain ‘Mogwais’, they are quite harmless, but once they turn into the gruesome Gremlins they cause disaster after disaster. The scene in the school was quite satirical, with the Gremlin having his revenge on the school teacher. The only criticism of this scene is that we never actually find out what happens to that Gremlin. I guess he eventually meets up with whole group, but how does the viewing audience know this? Then we have the hilarious scene at the Peltzer household. The mother was quite game tackling those gruesome creatures. I love it when she blends one in the mixer and then fries one in the microwave. When Stripe escapes, he hurts the small town of Kingston Falls. The scene at the YMCA swimming pool was clever.
Then when you see all the Gremlins walking into town you appreciate that they are not real. Then you have the pub scene where Kate is trapped serving all these mischievous characters, it was totally wild. Also the scene with the snow plough going through the Futterman’s house was crazy and suits the Gremlins totally. By the end we see one of the great pieces of directing, seeing all the Gremlins in the cinema watching quite a tame film in Snow White. Plus the final battle between Billy and Stripe in the Supermarket. It is so clever to see the little Gremlin tackle Billy with a chainsaw and a bow and arrow. Plus we see the best scene with Gizmo here. He is driving a Barbie-doll car, which was cute. I wont describe the end, but I will say that it was quite gut wrenching.Credit must go to the director and producer of Gremlins. Steven Spielberg is a genius and one of the best producers in the business. His other movies which I have loved include E.T., The Goonies, and Jurassic Park. I also enjoyed the directing of Joe Dante. He was very inventive and takes us on a wild roller-coaster ride with the Gremlins. To say that the original Gremlins film is a favourite of mine is an understatement. This movie is full of cuteness, cleverness, mischievousness and intelligence, all rolled into one. So, if you’re air conditioner goes on the fritz, or washing machine blows up, or your video recorder konks out, before you call the repairman, turn on all the lights and check under all the beds, cos you never can tell, there just might be a Gremlin in your house!