Running time: 106 minutes
Certificate: 15 (Gremlins), 12 (Gremlins 2)
Screenplay: Chris Columbus (Gremlins), Charles S. Haas (Gremlins 2)
Director: Joe Dante
Starring: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, Frances Lee McCain, Corey Feldman, Dick Miller, Jackie Joseph, Keye Luke, Polly Holliday, Judge Reinhold, Glynn Turman, John Glover, Robert Prosky, Robert Picardo, Christopher Lee, Haviland Morris, Kathleen Freeman, Gedde Watanabe, Tony Randall (voice)
|Billy and Gizmo try to save Kingston Falls.|
Randall Peltzer (Hoyt Axton) is looking for a Christmas present for his son Billy (Zach Galligan). In a dark back alley he finds a shop run by the very elderly Mr Wing (Keye Luke) and his grandson (John Louie) where he acquires a mogwai, a fantastical creature he decides will be perfect for Billy. Peltzer is given three rules about caring for the mogwai - keep him out of the light, especially sunlight, which is fatal, don't get him wet, and don't feed him after midnight. Billy loves his present, promptly names it Gizmo and it doesn't take long for Billy's friend Pete Fountaine (Corey Feldman) to break the second rule, by accidentally knocking a glass of water over Gizmo. It turns out breaking the second rule leads to reproduction. Gizmo's offspring are jolly unpleasant little things, and set out to cause havoc from the off.
|Gremlins: digging Disney.|
The film steps up a gear when Billy is tricked into feeding them after midnight and they go into slimy cocoons that look a little like the eggs from Alien. It's here we discover that mogwais are like caterpillars and go through a metamorphosis, only instead of butterflies, you get scaly, murderous little fuckers the paranoid neighbour Murray Futterman (Dick Miller) names gremlins.
For a while after this point, Gremlins is a cracking little horror story in which the newly-hatched gremlins, led by Stripe get revenge on a blood sample-taking science teacher Mr Hanson (Glynn Turman) and terrify Billy's poor mother Lynn (Frances Lee McCain). But when Stripe finds his way into the local swimming pool, it changes to something else entirely, as a knee-high army of gremlins start to take over the town: suddenly it’s a series of comedy skits that come across as a live action Warner Bros. cartoon and any story simply disappears. There are many brief moments of blackly comic brilliance in every scene, from Mr Futterman and his wife Sheila (Jackie Joseph) having a snow plow driven through their house, through mean old woman Mrs Deagle (Polly Holliday) flying out of an upstairs window to her death after her stair lift is tampered with to a set of genius skits all taking place in the local bar.
|Billy, Kate and newly Rambo-ised Gizmo brace themselves for more anarchy.|
There's something satisfyingly right about the gremlins meeting their end while laughing their asses off at Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in a cinema. Being such a huge part of my childhood, Gremlins is kind of synonymous with the movies for me, and I guess that's why it fits so perfectly for me. Stripe, having escaped the movie theatre meltdown, is on the verge of triggering the next generation at a mall water fountain when the first rule is broken and the sunlight melts him in a spectacularly gross death scene.
|Preparing to take New York with a song.|
Great, great stuff, but you may have to be part of a certain age group to appreciate it fully.
Gremlins 2: The New Batch: 8/10
It's very hard not to love the anarchic spirit Dante injects into these films - see this review of Gremlins by Nathan and Scott and this one of its sequel by David.