Gremlins (1984) / Fantasy-Horror
MPAA Rated: PG for scary images, violence, and some language (definitely would be PG-13 today)
Running Time: 106 min.
Cast: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, Lee McCain, Keye Luke, Corey Feldman, Dick Miller, Polly Holliday, Judge Reinhold, Chuck Jones, Glynn Turman, Nicky Katt, Howie Mandel (voice), Michael Winslow (voice), Jerry Goldsmith (cameo), Steven Spielberg (cameo)
Director: Joe Dante
Screenplay: Chris Columbus
Review published May 14, 1997
In Gremlins, an inventor (Axton, We're No Angels) buys a strange but infinitely cute pet for his son (Galligan, Waxwork) while in a small curio shop in the Orient. This creature is called a "Mogwai" and caring for it requires three things: 1) don't give it any water, 2) it will die in sunlight, and 3) never feed it after midnight. Of course all three things happen, one of them causing the Mogwai to spawn several others just like him, and after these cute creatures eat after midnight the once-lovable Mogwai turn into vicious and murderous Gremlins. Soon, the town is full of them and the lives of everyone in the small town is in jeopardy.
Gremlins is a fun film, mostly due to Mogwai cuteness, Gremlin zaniness and countless in-jokes. Alas, it's also a dumb film, with not much in the way of a story or any particular direction once the mayhem starts. The filmmakers attempt to make the story a combination of humor and horror at the same time, and while moderately successful in certain scenes, the two aspects tend to cancel each other out. It's never truly scary since so many humorous touches are added during the Gremlin parts and it's never truly funny because there is too much overkill in the gore department.
All in all, Gremlins is enjoyable enough to watch as long as you don't expect too much.
One word of caution: it may be too violent and scary for young children, despite the PG rating.
-- Followed by Gremlins 2: The Next Batch (1990)
©1997 Vince Leo