31 Days of Horror: Gremlins (1984)

gremlins poster

I was eight years old in 1984 when Gremlins came out. I saw it at least once in the theater, but I suspect I saw it more than that. Certainly, I remember talking to my friends about it at school and on the playground. We all loved it. Famously it was one of the movies that created the PG-13 rating (the other was Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom). There is quite a bit of violence in the film including scenes in which Gremlins are pureed in a food processor and blown up in a microwave. Some audience members were disturbed by this, having taken their young children to the movie due to its PG rating. Steven Spielberg who produced this movie and directed Temple of Doom used his clout to suggest a rating between PG and R and thus the PG-13 rating was born.

As kids, of course, it was those very scenes that we loved and were talking about on the playground.

If you haven’t seen it, Gremlins is about how a father buys a cute little furry creature from a mystical old Chinese man (we’re gonna overlook the terrible caricature that trope has always been, but do note I am completely aware of it). for his son Billy (Zach Galligan). Well, technically he buys it from the man’s grandson, but that detail isn’t that important. The creature called a Mogwai and named Gizmo by Billy comes with three rules.

He doesn’t like bright lights, and sunlight will kill him.
Never get him wet.
Never, ever, feed him after midnight.

As a side note, I once bought the woman who would become my wife a stuffed Gizmo but made her recite the rules to me before I would give it to her. She still has it, and pulled him out while watching the movie.

Naturally, all three of these rules will be broken in the course of the movie.

When water is accidentally spilled onto Gizmo he spawns a bunch of other Mogwai. Unlike Gizmo these spawns are more mischievous and malevolent. They trick Billy into feeding them after midnight which metamorphosizes them into larger, nastier creatures with evil intent.

Mayhem and quite a bit of pretty bloody violence ensue.

Director Joe Dante directs Gremlins from a script by Chris Columbus with a wonderful mix of humor and gore. As a kid I loved it. As an adult I still do.

It takes place on Christmas Eve so technically you could call it a Christmas movie rather than a Halloween one, but I’m still counting it for my 31 Days of Horror scoreboard.