|Welcome to the Gremlins review!|
I trust you have your reading glasses as this isn’t your average size review.
I’ve been trying to write this review for months and I promise you whenever I tried to the computer would crash, my electricity would go out or I’d mysteriously find the power cables to my computer station ripped apart. I couldn’t put my finger on it until that one fateful night..
But that’s another story for another time we’re here now to take a look at my second favorite movie of all time. I admire this film for its basic formula. You begin in a small area located in Anytown, USA. It’s that place where everyone knows everybody. It’s a quaint, docile and peaceful place where the American dream hasn’t died yet until a foreign element gets introduced. That element comes in the form of a ‘Mogwai’. Now luckily for me I have access to translate what that means into English for all of you, by way of my wife. ‘Mogwai’ is Chinese, specifically Cantonese for ‘monster’. Our cute little pal Gizmo may not be a monster but its offspring fit the ticket. Some people may believe this aspect of the movie is suggesting that foreign influence in America is causing problems or is it just part of the story? I never delved too deeply into metaphors but for this particular movie it’s neat to wonder. Is the original form and behavior of Gizmo good natured at first so the foreigner can safely get a foothold in America then transform into chaos in the form of a gremlin? To me this theory is a bit foolish but I enjoy twisting it around in my mind.
The ending of the movie shows the respectful old Chinese man coming to take his ‘Mogwai’ back after being swindled by his own grandson. He strongly implies that the family wasn’t ready for the heavy responsibilities of the ‘Mogwai’. He’s quite right of course. He goes on to add that the family treated it the same way that our American society has treated all of natures gifts, poorly. What a burn! It’s a cultural jab from Asia to America and it rings loud and clear. Is it meant for story though or is it sending a message through a movie? I’ve always allowed myself to enjoy this movie for what it is on screen but after reading so much about the gremlins franchise I’ve come across apparent ‘hidden messages’ such as this one in the movie. I believe this movie has been viewed so metaphorically because it’s a classic through and through. If people didn’t like it then it would be buried and long forgotten.
I love this movie for the memories it has brought me year after year of watching it. I love this movie for that time when I was 11 and watched it on December 31 and our old ding-dong clock struck midnight just as the ending credits rolled up. I love this movie for the creepy, scary and mean-spirited gremlins. I love this movie because it frightened me as a child. I love this movie because I can see the wires holding up the gremlins arms from time to time. Finally, I love this movie for tipping the scales on the family cinema deadbeats. It starts off fun, cute and jolly then turns evil, ugly and nasty. You can’t pull that off anymore with all the softness in this era. We kids used to be tough and able to handle a scary little green monster even at Christmas. I ramble but that’s my nature I do hope you understand what I mean.
The movie begins in Chinatown with Rand Peltzer being guided by a kid into an old antique shop. I’ve always liked the car that sits smashed into a pole as he approaches the stairs leading down into the shop. The people around the car are arguing about what happened is a neat background event going on. I like Rand’s hesitation about going downstairs too. Afraid of losing some of the merchandise you’re trying to push around? You must take a risk! As he walks around in the shop I remember this being what I thought all of China was like, a dark, dusty and lonely atmosphere. Back in the 1980’s the influence in my part of the country about China was bleak so all I knew about it was what I caught in movies. I felt that China was worlds away and there way of life was as alien as another planet. It’s amazing what you think of as a kid but the world has changed since then. I honestly didn’t think negatively about a culture I didn’t know.
|Getting more than he bargained for|
As the holidays near the sheriff of the town strolls about to get his hands on a Christmas tree for the police station. He doesn’t want to pay for one and tries to get one for free. A local catches wind of it and informs the sheriff that he paid for his. Eat that you cheapskate sheriff!
We head over to our lead man Billy Peltzer, son of Rand, who is trying to start his POS car to drive to work. His neighbor Mr. Futterman pulls up in his Kentucky harvester that he is extremely proud of since its American machinery. He is a loyal citizen that bashes on Billy’s foreign piece of crap car! Billy decides to hoof it and takes his dog to work with him. It must be take your dog to work day? As he runs to work he passes an old school Burger King restaurant, which brings back memories. Did I say that? I guess that means I’m getting old. Remember the Burger King Kids Club? I better stay on track. Billy enters the bank as the security guard lets the dog in too. Hey the dog wasn’t strapped so it clears entry! Billy’s cute co-worker Kate enters the movie showing an obvious fondness for him. The mean old lady Mrs. Deagle charges down the street furious about something but when you see her she looks like a person who always has a bug up their butt anyway. She does stop to inform a lady with two kids that the bank will not be handing out money to them even on Christmas. Basically you want something awful to happen to this old lady already.
She complains to Billy that his dog broke a fancy snowman of hers and she now wants the dog. Billy being a nice guy offers compensation but the old lady wants blood, Barney’s blood (the dog). She gets nasty about what she’ll do to the dog. I personally find this line as my favorite, “Maybe I’ll put him in my spin dryer on high heat.” And the local old guy comments, “That’d do it alright.” That’s all you say? Not something like what is wrong with you lady? Are you that demented to treat a dog that way? It’s awesome though and it sets her up for something special later on no doubt! The dog eventually jumps up from hiding and destroys the rest of her precious snowman figure while downing the old lady. A scuttle occurs in which Billy nearly loses his job. To end the scene Mrs. Deagle fakes that her heart is acting up to gain sympathy from the guys in charge at the bank.
|Incredible drawing I had to throw it in here|
|Always so cute & adorable at first|
Billy and Gizmo get in some keyboard time which accounts for a nice scene. Of course that ends with Gizmo head first into a trash can after Billy already breaks a rule. He reflects a bright light off a mirror and shines it directly into Gizmo’s face! It’s really funny, sorry Gizmo. Billy is even laughing while he takes Gizmo out of the trash can. He takes the little guy to the bathroom to bandage up the bump on his head and yet again fails in the bright light department. He lets Gizmo get a nice blast of light from the bathroom illumination.
Pete (Corey Feldman) arrives at the Peltzer’s with their Christmas tree. He’s actually dressed as a tree delivering a tree, it’s a neat gag. He discovers that Billy tried to use his Dad’s invention to make orange juice but like the rest of the inventions it didn’t work so well. What I like about the event is I don’t think Billy cleaned up the huge mess. He goes upstairs to change his shirt, I suppose it’s possible he did but it’s much more fun to assume he didn’t! Gizmo meanwhile is in Billy’s room watching TV. A race car movie of some kind is on and the little guy is really into it, he’s so cute. Pete meets Gizmo then Billy decides he wants to see if he’ll sing for him. He moves him onto the desk although couldn’t he sing on the bed where he was? Gizmo is a performer he needs a stage! Pete elbows over some paintbrushes on the desk along with some water in an awful attempt to pick up Gizmo and now the setting gets interesting. Five balls of fur pop out from Gizmo and land on the desk. They begin to grow and take the form of Gizmo with slightly different attitudes.
|Not to be trifled with|
The mogwai with the stripe on his head nearly bites off Pete’s finger as he quickly backs off and pouts on the bed. He’s not crying but he’s a bit defensive as the mogwai tried to get him. Gizmo looks very grief stricken as he watches his offspring across the desk. Its apparent Gizmo has had this happen to him before and knows what might be in store. Billy meanwhile is amazed at the multiplication of the mogwai.
|Party at the Peltzer's, soon the whole town|
The mogwai’s, save for Gizmo, managed to sneak out and tangle Barney, the dog, up in the Christmas lights outside. Billy blames Mrs. Deagle but how could an old lady do that in the middle of the night? You’re little bundles of joy are up to no good. Billy decides to take one of them to Mr. Hanson at the local school. He drops some water on it and makes a mogwai for Mr. Hanson to keep. Isn’t Billy generous? You easily could have got $5 for it.
A Gremlin Warning
Billy meets Kate as she closes up Dorry’s Tavern one night. Mr. Futterman is piss drunk and rambling on and on about gremlins being shipped over in cars and such. He claims they took down our planes in WWII. He continues his bashing of foreign merchandise sticking to the made in America theme. It is funny to watch him and also notice Billy and Kate ignoring his banter. Let this be a lesson to you all, listen to your local drunk babbling man, he could have some very pertinent information for you. Kate tricks him into walking home since driving a Kentucky harvester home could lead to problems worse than if a gremlin was driving it. Billy walks Kate home like a gentleman and they talk about Christmas. Kate doesn’t celebrate it though and that strikes Billy as absurd. They bicker a bit but eventually he musters up the courage to ask her on a date. You know the more I watch this movie the younger Billy gets. He used to seem much older. I never thought of that until now. I’m not getting any younger that’s for sure, ha-ha. Let’s get back to the movie, sorry.
|You just made an enemy Mr. Hanson|
|Mom I'm taking off, I'll leave these here with you OK?|
Billy wakes up the next morning with a surprise. The mogwai are gone but five turd shaped piles remain on the floor. Gizmo looks scared out of his mind as he knows what is about to go down. Mom asks if he got them wet but he didn’t! He is innocent of breaking the rules on that front. However he did manage to break the final rule which is not to feed them after midnight. Congratulations Billy you failed the responsibility test from the old shopkeeper! Billy then discovers that his clock was not working because the wire was torn apart. What is going on indeed? He then heads over to check on Mr. Hanson who has a turd in a cage. They’re cocoons actually so I’ll cut the crap about the turds. Did you like that? I know I’m terrible. Pete is with them and asks, “What did you say this was called, the putrid stage?” Close Pete but stay in school. Mr. Hanson corrects him by informing that it’s the pupil stage. He adds, “Inside he’s going through changes, lots of changes.” Pete replies, “Like my mother?” Not exactly Pete unless your mom is a mogwai.
|From feisty to vicious overnight|
Now we’re getting to the creepy part of the movie and none too soon I’ll say. Mr. Hanson is showing a video in his classroom when his box starts to move and shift on its own. The dark classroom adds quite a scary effect. At Billy’s home the cocoons are also hatching while frightening poor Gizmo to death. Mr. Hanson gives Billy a call informing him that it hatched so Billy heads on over. Billy why don’t you think straight, what about mom? Mom couldn’t possibly defend herself against such an unknown being! What will she do at home? Mr. Hanson meanwhile decides to get a head start on locating his new best friend. Is that the best idea at this point? Well he did come prepared with a candy bar after all. The scene is scary, especially when I was kid, as he moves around in the dark looking for the gremlin. The gremlin mutters the infamous, “Ca Ca” that I always crack up on. Eventually he feeds the gremlin not only the candy bar but his hand as well. The gremlin exacts revenge and upon killing Mr. Hanson it sticks a needle in his butt for good measure.
|I told you Mr. Hanson, I told you|
|One of my single favorite screenshots of all time|
Mom’s Killing Spree
She makes it up to Billy’s room and notices the broken cocoons. Billy calls her to tell her the news she pretty much knew already. A gremlin rips the phone line out while saying, “Phone home, ca-ca!” That has to be a slight to E.T. and its hilarious! Music begins playing from downstairs ‘Do you hear what I hear?’ These gremlins do have quite a sense of humor. She heads down to shut it off on the record player, remember those? A piece of glass is thrown and nearly hits her that is definitely a startling moment, especially for first time viewers. Let’s get to the kitchen scene which is one of my favorites in any movie I’ve ever seen. She creeps up to find one of the gremlins eating her gingerbread cookies. It hears her and that evil glare it gives as it turns to look is sinister. It knows she is there but doesn’t seem to be afraid in anyway, it wants the cookies! She looks again and the gremlin dives head first to eat straight from the blender. She turns it on and splatters that sucker all over the kitchen.
|Beyond well done please|
Stripe, the leader of the gremlins, blows his nose on the curtain and crashes outside in escape. I’ll always remember when my mom said how bad he was when he blew his nose on the curtain. I suppose that’s something no mother would want to happen to her curtains, ha-ha. Billy takes his mom to the doctor’s house for safety then ventures back to his home to look over his mom’s handy work. He finds Gizmo in the laundry and puts him into his backpack but not before exposing little Gizmo to bright light again. Billy this is why you have gremlin problems! Respect the rules man!
Billy heads out to find Stripe and end this before it gets out of hand. I’m positive he can do it. He follows Stripe’s footprints to a familiar location, the YMCA. Isn’t there a pool in that place? I don’t suppose Stripe would.. Billy heads inside with sword in hand to finish the job. He ends up getting clawed across the chest by Stripe then watching as the little monster jumps into the pool. There’s no stopping what’s to come at this point and all Billy can do is run away or be clawed to death by who knows how many gremlins. I love as Stripe descends into the water that he’s holding his nose. It doesn’t take long as new gremlins are born. The music for this movie is amazing. I love the score playing as the pool area is fogging up and turning chaotic. Stripe has created new friends and now seeks entertainment for all of them.
A logical thing to do would be to let the police know about this strange situation and Billy does just that. I’m not sure what I would do; probably try to cover up the fact that I was partly responsible for a massive outbreak of gremlins. Anyway the local police are just a pair of drunken fools interested in a wacky story. It’s Christmas Eve and crime in a small town like this is probably scarce. Billy is very serious and trying to warn them of what’s to come but they mock him. He tells them he got one of these creatures as a present. The sheriff asks, “Does your father always give you vicious little monsters as a present?” Its great dialogue because Billy sounds a bit high strung and they’re drunk. Billy eventually decides to show them Gizmo but for once he asks them to dim the lights! He finally follows a rule; it’s a freaking miracle and its Christmas time!
|How again do they survive this?|
A classic older couple is enjoying their countless Christmas Eve together. Actually the wife seems a bit too merry for the season or the husband is a bit of a grump but it rings the true American spirit if you ask me. It seems that the monotonous lifestyle they live has hardened Mr. Futterman. It’s a good thing this isn’t your regular Christmas. The TV starts to get some major static so Mr. Futterman complains they should have got a Zenith. He hates foreign anything so for those of you that don’t know your Zenith TV is indeed American made. He can’t live without his precious TV so he heads outside to check some things out. What he finds is that gremlins have not only been messing with the antennae but they have taken a liking to his Kentucky harvester. I love this aspect of the gremlins being reckless with anything technological. It fits right in with stories of gremlins bringing down airplanes in WWII. The gremlins, laughing all the way, demolish the house in the Kentucky harvester along with the Futterman’s apparently. His last words are shouting, “There’s a real gremlin in my cab, AHHH!”
|Gizmo don't like the 5-0|
The scenes begin to change more quickly now as the outbreak of gremlins takes effect. Remember back to the beginning of the movie with the guy who calmly agrees that to kill a dog by putting it in a dryer on high heat should do it? His emotionless agreement was odd and not in Christmas spirit that’s for sure so as he tries to send a letter a gremlin mauls his hand inside the mailbox. It’s a bit of a random scene but it fits in great! A gremlin elsewhere fools around with traffic lights to cause a car crash too! It’s awesome to see the chaos begin slowly. Meanwhile back at ‘drunken cops are us’, the calls start coming in that strange events are occurring throughout the town. Maybe Billy is right guys. They tell Billy to go home and stay put basically while they head out to see what’s going on.
|A few modifications and you'll be ready to go!|
Here is another evil and delightful scene for that old hag Mrs. Deagle. She is a notorious ‘cat lady’ and is a ‘Scrooge’ in her own way. She hears some wonderful Christmas caroling coming from outside and decides to be a horrible person. She fetches some water to hurl on the unsuspecting carolers. Little does she know but a gremlin has made its way into her home and is tampering with her fancy chair that helps her up to the next level in her house. She opens her front door to do her dastardly deed and nearly has a heart attack! The gremlins are comically caroling to her as she thinks ‘death’ has come for her. She panics and climbs into her chair to make an escape. She rockets up the whirling staircase and blasts out of the window as the gremlins laugh their butts off! It was Stripes plan all along as he pronounced Deagle as, “Dickle” just before the scene. This is Stripes movie to control and I’m all for it.
The policemen pull up just in time to see Mrs. Deagle crash land into the snow. The gremlins keep laughing hysterically at her as the policemen see a man who plays Santa every year come busting out toward them from a house. He has gremlins all over him and is pleading for help. “What’s that stuff he’s got all over him?” The sheriff asks. The police duo decide to roll up the window and drive away as either sobering up from these events or the gremlins are scaring them beyond belief. Now that we know the police won’t be of any help what are we to do now? By the way a gremlin ripped out the brake line in their car while they watched Santa get mauled. The gremlins are now in control of the night as we wonder what can stop them.
Billy gets his car to start which appears as a miracle to him and he’s off but where to? His dad meanwhile who is out of town stops off and tries to hawk his smokeless ashtray to a gas station attendant. He works the holidays and during a snowstorm!
|Looking for a good time?|
Dorry’s Tavern – Gremlin Style
It might possibly be the best scene in the movie. What we have are the gremlins indulging in the confines of a bar so how could this miss? I’ll do my best to give this justice but seeing it will always remain the ultimate. Why Kate is still bartending to all these rambunctious creatures is a mystery but she might be afraid of what would happen if she stopped. The gremlin hanging onto the ceiling fan while it’s spinning is always great. How about the flasher gremlin? The environment these guys create is so out of control it’s amazing. It’s a ‘do whatever you want’ mentality that spawns such wild behavior! Let’s hit the pool table where they’re using a mallet to hit pool balls into beer bottles set up in bowling pin style! The gremlin shouts “Fore” when he strikes the ball too so how many recreational activities did they combine? Also note the crazy gremlin in the background with the eight ball lodged in its mouth.
|Stripe don't take kindly to cheats|
Easily the part I hated most as a kid watching this movie. I didn’t care what she had to say, all I knew is that this scene ended some crazy gremlin fun. Now I love it for its dreary and sadness. I’m not one of those pain freaks but it’s a meaningful story in Kate’s past that explains why she isn’t a fan of Christmas. How would you feel if your beloved father died while trying to make his little girl happy Christmas morning? That would be something you might not ever get over. It’s amazing how you can go from chaos at a bar to story time in a bank but it works very well. Billy also explains that these are indeed gremlins since it hasn’t actually been said that they are yet with exception of Mr. Futterman. Its apparent Gizmo can understand English too as he shows sorrow for her story. They head outside after some time has passed to see what will happen next. What else could they be thinking? I love seeing Gizmo peeking out of Billy’s backpack too, it’s funny.
|Always loved this guy|
The gremlins, led by Stripe no doubt, have taken to hiding in the local cinema. It will be daylight soon so they need a place to hang out until nightfall. As usual they’re a mess by either swinging from the ceiling by rope or somehow getting a movie to play. I love the gremlin that has popcorn bags on its ears. Billy, Kate and Gizmo stumble in to find them all watching ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’. They absolutely love it and even sing along, it’s fantastic! Stripe gets a case of the munchies and heads out to the concession stands while his buddy says, “Milk Dud.” Billy has other plans as he sneaks below the theater to release the gas. Why would he want to do that? Stripe discovers that there’s no more food out front and with his eagle eyes spots a sign that glows ‘Candy’ in the distance. Being the leader he is he goes off to get some sweets for his buddies. Meanwhile below Billy closes the door and sets fire to a cloth or paper of some kind that tails out from the room. Does he plan to blow up this building? In this day in age he would be considered a terrorist not a hero. He’ll always be an arsonist to me though!
|For the 4 sec we see him it's hilarious|
|Billy you SOB!|
Department Store – Graveyard of Stripe
The one on one matchup is underway as Billy tries to stop the mischievous Stripe! Kate takes Gizmo to attempt to restore power to the store which would greatly aid in the defeating of Stripe. Billy grabs a bat and hunts down Stripe. First we see some old school boom boxes and giant TV’s with huge backsides. Billy doesn’t care as he bashes and smashes them with his bat mistaking it for Stripe as he appeared on the screen. Why not destroy everything? You can always blame it on the gremlins! I like how Stripe can’t resist the urge to screw around with Billy. He had a chance to attack Billy right in the face area from a concealed position but chose not to. Stripe wants Billy to suffer for the massacre of his people! Kate has no clue what she is turning on in the store and activates the fountain, great job. Stripe nearly connected a sizable razor blade to Billy’s face. What I really enjoy is Stripe using a skateboard and tricycle as means of transportation throughout this fiasco.
|Rooting for you Stripe|
|I won't have what he had|
You know what I like about Stripe; he got the classic ‘delayed death bad guy treatment’ as he got one last chance to scare you into ‘soilment’. He jumps out of the fountain and becomes no more. Also ‘soilment’ is the act of soiling oneself; sure it’s a real word.
The Shopkeeper Returns
The old man sneaks into the house and startles the, well you know, out of the battle scarred mom. He wants the mogwai back and claims that the word sold is, “An interesting choice of words.” I love this guy’s knack for insulting, it gets better. In case you didn’t know that old man is actually 80 years old, no joke. I tell you I’d never have guessed if I didn’t look it up. I don’t know it just amazes me. “I warned you with mogwai comes much responsibility but you didn’t listen. And you see what happens. Aiya. You do with mogwai what your society has done with all of nature’s gifts. You do not understand. You are not ready.” The old man lectures the family which he has a valid point. It’s interesting how it’s thought that western civilization isn’t capable of using nature in the correct way. I believe Gizmo represents the delicacy of nature and how it must be treated but we fail or at the time of the movie we did anyway. Either way for story line or actual meaning I admire it.
The heartfelt parting of Gizmo and Billy still tugs at me. Gizmo just has to say, “Bye Billy.” The shopkeeper does inform them that one day they may be ready and the mogwai will be waiting for them. It’s the thought that no one gave up on them completely but you must learn what’s necessary to take that next step. Rand sends us off with the memorable dialogue. “Well that’s the story. So 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 because you never can tell there just might be a gremlin in your house.”
I wish I could put about 50 more images in this review but that would be ridiculous. I put in my favorites so that’ll have to do. I do have some more I’ll put at the end of all this. If you read this far I appreciate it and hope you enjoy gremlins as much as I do. The era it was made combined with the age I first saw it are probably why I’m so attached to it. The score is brilliant and truly one of a kind as far as I know. Here’s to the Gremlins and all the terror they brought to us.
Rating: 10 of 10
|Can you find the mistake?|
|Gizmo gets it rough, the way he likes it|
|Could this be any eviler?|
|Guns don't kill people, Gremlins do|
|Barf bag anyone?|
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