Director: Joe Dante
I saw this movie when I was a kid, and I never considered it a horror movie. It was more like one of those movies that made me want things that I couldn't possibly have. Other little girls had Disney movies, I had Gremlins. They wanted their Prince Charming, I wanted a fucking Mogwai. I even forced my aunt to name her dog Gizmo so I could kind of pretend. But alas, I still haven't found my Mogwai. I also never really considered this a Christmas movie, even though it did take place on the holiday. But it's on everyone's Christmas horror list, so here it is on mine.
It's about a boy named Billy who gets an interesting Christmas gift from his wacky inventor father. Daddy spent a great bit of cash on the little thing in a shop in Chinatown, just because it was different and he thought Billy might like it. Even though he was warned that, "with Mogwai comes great responsibility," he never even considered that the world (or at least their town) would almost be destroyed. So Daddy took little Gizmo home to Billy, explained the rules, and everything was fucked up. There are three rules for Mogwai care: keep it away from bright lights, do not get it wet, and NEVER feed it after midnight. The first rule is broken by Corey Feldman when he spills some water on Gizmo. When he does, two things happen. First, little balls of fur pop out of him and turn into other Mogwai. Second, it seems pretty painful for him, so it succeeds in making us feel really bad. The other Mogwai end up a little different than Gizmo, though. Where Gizmo is a sweet, adorable little thing, the others are little hellions and none of them like poor Gizmo.
The second rule of Mogwai care is broken thanks to an unplugged clock, when Billy things it's earlier than it actually is and feeds them all some fried chicken. Thankfully, Gizmo isn't hungry at that point, and he is perfectly fine. But the others? They turn into vicious little hideous monsters!
Mogwai are cute. Everyone knows that. Even if you're not entirely familiar with the movie, you've probably seen Gizmo at some point in your life. And you're not human if he's not the cutest thing you've ever seen. But once they turn into Gremlins, they're pretty nasty. And not only in their physical appearance;
they're little slobs, perverts and jerkwads. They're just overall bad seeds. Which, I guess, is why they decide to go around town killing people and fucking shit up.
I've already mentioned it, but I can't say it enough. Gizmo is the cutest thing EVER. From his tiny little face, his tiny little furry body; to the fact that he likes to sing, watch old movies, and pretend he's a racecar driver...Everything about him screams, "Love me!" Well, we do, Gizmo. We most certainly do.
The Gremlins are actually pretty scary, and kind of funny at times. At one point, they invade the local pub, get shitfaced and act like hooligans. One of them even puts on a trench coat and flashes the bartender. Hoorah! Their kills are pretty cool too--like sucking a man into a mailbox, and things like that.
It's '80s cheese at its best. There are some graphic kills, some corny characters and some all around weird shit going down. It's everything we've come to love about the decade, plus a cute little creature that I desperately wish to own.
Everyone's heard the expression about Gremlins messing up all your machines. Well, this movie adequately explains it. I think I've got about ten million of those little buggers in my house, and they all focus on my computer. I wish they'd mess something else up for a change.
Chill out, guys. There's just one tiny little thing. Once the Gremlins showed up, Gizmo pretty much stayed hidden in Billy's backpack. He was so scared, the poor little fella. I wish there would have been more Gizmo, because I love him so and it saddens me to say that he wasn't present enough. I think they should make a movie that is nothing but Gizmo in that little Santa hat, singing while Billy plays the keyboard. I would SO watch that.
What I learned
There are a few things I learned about the movie this time around that I didn't know to begin with. First of all, Joe Dante directed the movie. I never paid attention to directors until recently, and I wouldn't have known him when I was a kid if I had. But he directed a couple of episodes of Masters of Horror, so I was happy to see that I recognized him.
Second, and most interesting in my opinion--the voice of Gizmo was done by none other than Howie
FREAKIN' Mandel. I didn't know it, and for some reason, I find it extremely hilarious. I really have no idea, why, but it's funny.
If you buy any sort of animal from a creepy old man in Chinatown...Well, scratch that. The creepy old man actually refused to sell the Mogwai, but his grandson, apparently, just wanted to get rid of it. So, if some little Asian kid pawns a strange animal off on you, and he tells you that you've got to take special care of it...You'd better listen, because it might just kill you.
"...if your air conditioner goes on the fritz, or your washing machine blows up, or your video recorder conks out...before you call the repairman, turn on all the lights, check all the closets and cupboards, look under all the beds; 'cause you never can tell...There just might be a gremlin in your house."