The holiday season is upon us so it's time for some appropriately themed movie madness! This time I'm rolling through town with the 1984 comedy horror romp Gremlins, directed by Joe Dante. The plastic skin has been melting off these animatronic spoilers for 32 years.
Where I'm Coming From & What I Expect
The last movie I saw was the camp filled dumpster fire that was Batman, so I'm ready for anything else. I could watch paint drying and be fine with it.
This was written by Chris Columbus, who you might recognize as the director of your childhood, assuming you were a child at the right time. You won't hear mention of source material and that's because this wasn't a remake or adaptation. It seems Chris' childhood imagination wasn't brutally executed by adulthood, and for that he deserves a quick moment of appreciation.
I'm not necessarily ready but I'm expecting some lighthearted Christmas themes and some crappy animatronics. What I'm really hoping I can avoid is some 80s level CGI in the more action filled sequences. I'm really expecting low key action though since this is PG, even if it is 1984 level PG, AKA the PG that gave us the glorious Nazi face melting from RotLA.
What I'm Bringing
Pumpin pie! I admit that about two minutes into the movie I discovered the pie was soggy and gross so I swapped for some Frosty root beer and Tapatio Doritos, so just imagine that's what I'm holding in the photo.
That's me, watching this movie for the first time. You know, it's funny now looking back at how much I can't stand narration that doesn't actually do anything for the movie. But really, I assume this guy isn't a main character so why is he narrating the beginning of the movie to me?
Maybe Mr Narrator should explain why Chinatown looks like a horror movie set. Hopefully the growing influence of the Asian market on our movies will actually have a positive effect on how we make movies, because not everything Asian has to be mystical or imbued with some ancient force as seen in this underground shop. I was truly expecting this kid to have some kind of Short Round voice but by some holiday miracle there's no stereotypical accent. My bar has been lowered that far already.
I would assume this dad/narrator is a struggling inventor and it's fairly easy to see why. His spiel is terribly rehearsed and this 'bathroom buddy' is more cumbersome and ill conceived than the biggest phablet disaster. Ok, maybe this garbage is in a category that sucks more.
I'm glad that at least the entitled American has been accurately portrayed. Just like all things, if you want it throw money and get all fussy until it's yours. The good news is he basically used this old guy's grandson to cheat him out of a rare living creature, which comes with a bizarre set of rules. If only I could remember another time Americans took advantage of Chinese people.
Speaking of taking advantage of cheap Chinese labor, it's Christmas! I know this because kids are playing in the snow, a cluster of evergreen trees, a little shitty background music, and some lighthearted townfolk banter. All we need is a super grouchy character to offset this unhinged holiday cheer.
What do you know, I'm the movie whisperer; Billy's neighbor is nice and one dimensional and his defining characteristic is a Red Foreman level hate of all things foreign. We get it, foreign stuff breaks and American products last forever, just like democracy! It's just one source so I'll ignore the alarming amount of American vehicles on this list then.
If you were able to get to work on foot that easily why would you even bother driving in the first place? That's about as well thought out as waiting ten minutes for a bus you're only going to ride to the next stop.
I suspect Mrs. Deagle's heart is based on some Grinch/Scrooge hybrid. Unless you're allergic it's a good bet you're probably just a human-suit-wearing monster if you don't find it adorable when someone brings their dog to work, or walks past you with a dog, or shows you a dog. You should love dogs, you monster.
The coworker giving shit to Billy at this bar is the worst kind of person, although talking about how much of a big shot he is makes him pretty solid presidential material, or so I've heard. Plus he has that bonus disrespect for women, so he's really filling out his Return Of Kings bingo card.
Pardon the pun but I think we've cracked the case on why Billy's dad is such a failed inventor - he built an egg...uhh...opening machine, AKA a device that solves a problem no one had by creating a much bigger one, like a machine that puts your shoes on but cuts your toes off. If he had any foresight he would have just doubled down on his juicer efforts because that's a trend he could have made a killing on. Not only that but he somehow made a juicer that takes one piece of fruit and turns it into an entire basket's worth of juice using some kind of wizardry that I don't even think the Harry Potter universe would allow.
In one day this guy has already given a head injury to and spilled water on his new pet. What's more worrying than Billy's clear lack of responsibility with living things is his nonchalance at Gizmo's unnatural replicating ability. Actually, I think blood made of Valium runs in this family because no one is freaking out about the family dog being strung up with Christmas lights, outside in freezing weather.
I'm quite surprised Billy and Katie were able to convince his neighbor to walk home instead of drive wasted. To be fair walking just gives him more time to complain about foreigners, which made me forget for a second that this movie is three decades old. Katie needs to do her research because suicide DOES NOT go up during the holiday season. Come on now, you keep spreading shit like that and you might as well write for Breitbart.
At first I was impressed that a POC was playing a science teacher and not filling any stereotype, but then he jumps into the one where every lab worker eats while working next to some kind of body part or organ. This is a cliche that I'm pretty sure deserves some sanctioning.
I guess if you feed a mogwai after midnight they go into a low budget Alien egg. I'm assuming whatever comes out will be less terrifying than the facehugger from the actual Alien series, otherwise this would be a very different movie. Well, I did not expect this to turn so drastically violent. I thought mom would be way too dumb to defend herself but she's really racking up the (gremlin) body count. Now she has the cred to pen her own rap album.
Billy going out into the dark by himself to find a homicidal monster is not a great idea. The choice to seek out a YMCA is puzzling, although maybe the gremlin was just looking for a Christian refuge turned suspected gay meeting spot to pop in for some self-reproduction.
Cranky neighbor's wife is way to nice to be with him. To be fair, he was right about foreign gremlins destroying his machinery, although he missed the part where they would murder him with his own tractor. The cops don't seem to disturbed by him and his wife getting pancaked in their own house.
Where did a gang of whimsical murder demons manage to snag some hats, earmuffs, and sheet music to go caroling? I think we found the origin of the so called war on Christmas. I mean they're just blatantly killing people now.
I want to find out what the hell Chris was thinking when he thought it would be funny to have a gremlin flasher, complete with trenchcoat and sunglasses. This entire bar scene is so absurd I'm not sure I even processed everything that happened. What I do know is that gremlins like guns and have no problem with gremlicide. Maybe the dumbest thing of all is that Billy shuts his car off when he swoops in to make a quick rescue. If you're in a hurry it's always advisable to keep your escape vehicle running so you can, you know, escape.
Don't worry Katie a quick Google search indicates that it's not that crazy that someone would get stuck in a chimney. The barbecued dad element of the story might be a little more specific to her specific experience, although I don't feel like I should check Google to make sure.
Who could have predicted that gremlins would be super into Snow White and the Seven Dwarves? That's like finding out one of the major faces of discrimination went to see a racially inclusive Broadway play. Blowing up a theater full of jolly, singing gremlins feels like overkill, possibly more excessive than current US drone strike policy.
The tonal shifts in this entire movie are pretty well summed up by this department store scene - accidentally turning on the fountain to being almost chainsawed in the face is weird, like watching cable porn that turns into meaningless torture. The melting final gremlin death really drives home that this is not your Grandma's Christmas movie.
Aside from the old Asian guy from the beginning somehow finding their house, what's uncomfortable is that he was made to say stereotypical garbage like "you are not ready," and "to hear, one only has to listen." Thanks for reminding me what a three dimensional character should not look like. Christmas is ruined.
I did not expect such a charming looking movie to turn so ridiculously violent. If that seems like an unreasonable assessment, a helpful chart can show you there are more deaths found here than some Bond movies. Of course I will be sure to add this to my holiday rotation.
A new addition! The music I was listening to when I wrote this post. It'll get eclectic.
Lissie - Catching A Tiger, My Wild West, Back To Forever
Norma Jean - Polar Similar
Coastal Break - Bedouin, Movements
Lana Del Rey - Ultraviolence
The Mars Volta - Frances the Mute
Coheed and Cambria - Year Of The Black Rainbow