Gremlins (1984)

2009-12-24 11:51
 
Gremlins classic

Gremlins is simultaneously sentimental, hilarious and horrifying; a top entry into the horror-creature-comedy canon of its time. And that’s saying a lot for a decade that spawned Chucky, The Evil Dead, and Marion Cobretti.

Christmas in South Africa in 1985 was not the happiest time. We were all about to go into some bad shit, and the tension in the township air was palpable to say the least. So the movies for us were very much an all-points escape from an air of ultra violence and psychotic people bearing guns.

Good thing that back in the 80s we weren’t too aware of the psychological effects of watching ultra-violent movies with psychotic critters bearing guns. Because by the time Billy Peltzer’s (Calligan) mom "blends" a metamorphasised mogwai about halfway through the movie, you get the feeling you’re watching From Dusk Till Dawn with muppets.

What starts out as a lovely little Christmas family adventure has suddenly become a thrasher film with knife attacks, guns, a microwaving and mass murder. Yet there’s more than just a hint of a raspberrying about it all. Even as some citizens meet their respective ends, you can’t help but giggle at the mischievousness of their despatchment.

Gremlins (the film) sticks its tongue out at you, much like the titular little bastards. Along the way it manages adequate jabs at jingoism, technophobia and just being a blue Christmas meanie! And there’s even a bizarre self-referential moment in the cinema (if you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil it for you) that sends the film into riotous post-modern pie-in-the-face territory.

If Gremlins had been made in the late nineties, when Hollywood had found a conscience for kids’ movies, it probably would have been a "mature audiences only" flick. The still-classified PG rating is deceptive and probably unfortunate. Blame the directorial success (and sugary sweetness) of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. and Indiana Jones for that.

Warner Bros. must have figured at the time that putting Steven Spielberg’s name before the title would sell 90 minutes of dog turd footage (actually it probably still would). Such as it was, most of what Spielberg and his crew (Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy, Dante, and Chris Columbus) did produce was pretty decent fare. 

And while the sequel went on to supercharge the comedy and parody elements, Dante’s original film still packs unexpected real menace where it counts.

TRIVIA:

* Generally credited (along with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) to influence the MPAA to create the PG-13 rating, as many felt the scenes of violence in both movies were too much for a PG rating, but not enough for an R rating.

* Chris Columbus' script went through a few drafts before a shooting script was finalised. His original version had the creatures killing the dog and cutting off the mom's head and tossing it down the stairs. These elements were never shot due to the fact that both, Joe Dante and Warner Bros. wanted the movie to be more family oriented.

* The "Rockin' Ricky Rialto" billboard shows a man dressed like Indiana Jones, holding a microphone like a whip, and the "Rockin' Ricky Rialto" logo in the Indiana Jones typeface.

* The scene in the department store where Stripe attacks Billy with a chainsaw was not in the script. It was added by Joe Dante and Zach Galligan as a homage to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.


MEMORABLE QUOTES:

Murry Futterman, Billy's neighbour:
Goddamn foreign TV. I told ya we should've got a Zenith.


Ruby Deagle: I want your dog.
Billy Peltzer: Barney?
Ruby Deagle: Give him to me. I'll take him to the kennel, they'll put him to sleep. It will be quick and painless compared to what I would do to him.
Billy Peltzer: What could you do?
Ruby Deagle: I'll catch the beast myself. He'll get what he deserves, a slow painful death.Maybe I'll put him in my spin-drier on high heat.
Mr. Anderson: That would do it all right!


Murry Futterman, Billy's neighbour: [drunk, looking inside his car] Gremlins...
Murry Futterman, Billy's neighbour: [turning to Billy and Kate] You got-you gotta watch out for them forgeiners cuz they plant gremlins in their machinery.
[he climbs inside the car]
Murry Futterman, Billy's neighbour: It's the same gremlins that brought down our planes in the big one.


Sentimental, hilarious and horrifying, Gremlins is a top entry into the horror-creature-comedy canon of its time.

H 2009/12/29 12:18 PM
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Absolute classic! one of my all time favourites!
Jaco 2009/12/29 7:21 PM
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Thank you for giving this movie it's deserved moment in the spotlight once more.
Reaver 2009/12/30 12:45 PM
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AWESOME MOVIE!!!!
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