Who misses a traditional Christmas that you see on TV? I don’t mean something like a modern Christmas, but rather something out of It’s a Wonderful Life. Growing up in California, I’ve never had a white Christmas or had carolers come to our door. Just once I would love to spend my holidays in a Frank Capra inspired town. I don’t know any towns like it, but if you do, I would love to hear about it. What I like about those kinds of celebrations is that it builds on classic tradition. They may change a decoration or two, but they understand that a classic Christmas is what a lot of people want.
When tradition is broken, there are a lot of possible reactions. Some things don’t change at all. Some things take something different like another style of a Christmas tree and embrace it. But what if change angered some? The classic Christmas is terrorized in the eighties staple of horror, Gremlins. This is a rare scary movie for the family, as it doesn’t become too violent, though it did spark an outrage that led to the PG-13 rating created. I’d say leave this one for the kids that are older then eight. Most of them will probably find this more funny then scary.
Gremlins opens in an underground Chinatown shop where an inventor stumbles upon a small creature called a Mogwai. Despite warnings from the owner, it is sold and given to the Inventor’s son Billy (played by Zach Galligan). Loving his new pet, he calls it Gizmo (voiced by Howie Mendel) and starts having fun with it. Gizmo comes with a set of rules; no sunlight (it’ll kill it), no water (it’ll multiply) and most important, no food after midnight. Despite trying his best, Gizmo gets water spilled and more Mogwai’s start appearing.
The extra batch proves to be a handful compared to the calmer Gizmo. While dealing with then, Billy has his full time job as a bank that is owned by the meanest woman in town, Ms. Ruby Degale. Eventually, the mogwais (except for Gizmo) get their hands on some food and become cocoons in the morning. In just a couple of hours on Christmas Eve, they hatch as little monsters called gremlins. Once loose on the Frank Capra-like town, they start a trail of destruction. All they want is to have a wild party, at the cost of humanity. It’s up to Billy and Gizmo to stop them before they multiply again.
Gremlins was not released nor intended to be a Christmas film, but I consider this a classic Christmas story. This movie works great as a counter to something like It’s a Wonderful Life. Gremlins is a satire of that culture and would rather tear everything apart. The special effects are good old-fashioned puppets and animatronics. Plus not to mention that it’s making fun of it, I still get a nice Christmas atmosphere from here, even if it’s a little twisted. I can’t tell what’s funnier; a Santa Claus with a bunch of Gremlins attacking him, or these creatures singing along to Snow White.
I’ll give this four-microwaved gremlins out of five. As I said, this is a darker Christmas movie, so it may not appeal to everyone. It’s not that scary and can even be a little sentimental. Ironically, this twisted look at the holiday has become a new classic.