Posted in Other Media

Unofficial Horror Movie A–Z: Gremlins


Year: 1984
Runtime: 1h 46m
Rated: PG

Director: Joe Dante

Writers: Chris Columbus

Stars: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton

Double Feature Fodder:
Embrace the weekend of June 8, 1984: Ghostbusters was released on the same day.

Initial: Rewatch. I’m not sure I’ve seen Gremlins since it hit cable TV after its initial release.

Production Notes: Due to complaints about the amount of violence in Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (both rated PG), the MPAA to institute the PG-13 rating, i.e. such a film might not be suitable for viewers under the age of 13. Regardless, the movie had a huge marketing/merchandise campaign aimed toward kids.

What Did I Think:
Recently on Twitter, I’ve mentioned how permissive the adults in my life were during my childhood in regards to my reading tastes. I was never told ‘no’ when it came to a book. Movie watching was a slightly different thing. Obviously, violent and overly sexy R-rated movies were off the table. R-rated comedies, less so. M*A*S*H (1970) was probably the first R-rated movie I saw, at an age quite a bit less than 17. Horror movies were also out . . . more or less. Usually, if Arnold Schwarzenegger was involved, it was fine.

But 1984 was a rare time. Two movies came out that year that were fun, but also a little scary: Gremlins and Ghostbusters.

While the library ghost at the beginning is probably the worse there is from Ghostbusters, Gremlins does not skimp on things-that-go-bump-in-the-night tension or the gremlin gore. When comparing to its other PG-13 kin, I can really only think of one scene in Temple of Doom that might come close. Violent mischief is perpetrated against humans, but the results are down-played. The fates of gremlins is a different thing.

In my opinion, the movie holds up. There is a nice lead up of not seeing adorable Gizmo and later the changed “evil” gremlins. The characters are a bit stock for all their eccentricities, but they are not why anyone is watching this movie. The plot embraces the ridiculousness of the situation and has the courage to play it out. That it didn’t spawn immediate sequels like a wet Gizmo is surprising. Gremlins 2: The New Batch didn’t come out until 1990 and an animated series is set for HBO streaming this summer.