By Blake French
Funny how we remember old movies as being better than they really are. I first saw Gremlins as a little kid, and I loved the film so much that my parents got me a Gizmo doll for Christmas that year. In fact, even though they don't make Gizmo toys anymore, Gremlins will still please kids today with its juvenile story involving vicious little monsters wreaking havoc on adults.
However, watching the movie recently I found flaws I didn't notice before. While I used to hide under blankets when the evil gremlins appeared, I now laugh at the shallow, one-dimensional characters, the idiotic, repetitive storyline, and especially the corny special effects.
In the movie, bank clerk Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan) receives a rather unusual Christmas present from his father (Hoyt Axton). Handing a small, furry creature named Gizmo to his son, Billy's father explains that it absolutely cannot get wet, be exposed to sunlight, or eat after midnight. Predictably, it isn't long before Billy breaks all those rules. Gizmo multiplies into a herd of vicious monsters determined to destroy everything in sight. Now, Billy and his friend, Kate (Phoebe Cates), must stop the evil monsters before they multiply again and kill everyone in the city.
Blending dark comedy with ravenous horror, Gremlins delivers many entertaining moments. It is probably a surefire hit with popcorn and a six-pack of beer on Saturday night. But even drunk viewers will have to see past the bland performances and lackluster screenplay to even enjoy the movie as a guilty pleasure.
For mature viewers looking for more than yesterday's garbage, Gremlins is merely a violent re-imagination of Steven Spielberg's much better E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. Ironically, Spielberg actually served as this movie's executive producer. Despite his influence, however, this movie just isn't as memorable as Spielberg's work. In the end it's just a monster movie for kids.
(And don't get me started on the sequel.)
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Friday 8th June 1984
Box Office Worldwide: $153.1M
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Production compaines: Amblin Entertainment, Warner Bros. Pictures
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Fresh: 50 Rotten: 9
Cast & Crew
Starring: Zach Galligan as Billy Peltzer, Phoebe Cates as Kate Beringer, Hoyt Axton as Randall Peltzer, Polly Holliday as Ruby Deagle, Dick Miller as Murray Futterman, Keye Luke as Grandfather (Mr. Wing), Belinda Balaski as Mrs. Joe Harris, Scott Brady as Sheriff Frank, Judge Reinhold as Gerald Hopkins, John Louie as Chinese Boy, Don Steele as Rockin' Ricky Rialto (voice), Susan Burgess as Little Girl, Harry Carey, Jr. as Mr. Anderson, Donald Elson as Man on Street, Howie Mandel as Gizmo (voice), Corey Feldman as Pete Fountaine, Edward Andrews as Mr. Corben