Minature green monsters tear through the small town of Kingston Falls. Hijinks ensue as a mild-mannered bank teller releases these hideous loonies after gaining a new pet and violating two of three simple rules: No water (violated), no food after midnight (violated), and no bright light. Hilarious mayhem and destruction in a town straight out of Norman Rockwell. So, when your washing machine blows up or your TV goes on the fritz, before you call the repair man, turn on all the lights and look under all the beds. 'Cause you never can tell, there just might be a gremlin in your house.Written by
A dark, crazy, twisted, inventive, and violent Christmas classic. There's really no way to classify or categorize Gremlins. It's too mean-spirited to be a kid's film, but not quite intense enough to justify a higher rating (though the 15-rated UK version makes a mockery of the BBFC guidelines). That grown-up 15 logo on the old VHS and the classic John Alvin poster artwork was enough to intrigue me as a kid and I've been hooked ever since.
Gremlins has long been an annual tradition for movie fans. The cozy, snowy atmosphere of Kingston Falls (which appears to be in upstate New York somewhere but is, in actual fact, Hill Valley at Universal studios) is the perfect small town that we all wish we came from. Even when the Gremlins invade it's a homely place to be envious of.
I was frightened of the Gremlins when I was a kid, but they're really nothing more than gigantic smiles with arms and legs. They exist only to have fun at the expense of human life and private property. I suppose they could be a metaphor for hedonism or apathy. Originally a much more evil script (intended to be an anti-Wonderful Life), Chris Columbus was inspired to write Gremlins as he listened to the rats in his apartment scurry about in the dark during the night. He lightened the material somewhat before filming began, but Joe Dante's wild vision makes it a twisted, festive reality.
Special mention must be made of Jerry Goldsmith's outrageous score and that famous theme tune 'The Gremlin Rag', a demented circus fanfare of anarchy and mayhem. It's crazy to think that we had to wait 27 years to get released on CD. It's one of the first movie themes I even began humming as a young child, and I still do to this day.
Gremlins sparked the rise of Chris Columbus as a creative force in Hollywood. Only 25 at the time of filming his career has been made up of classics, and Christmas classics, such as The Goonies, Young Sherlock Holmes, Home Alone, Home Alone 2, Harry Potter, and Bicentennial Man. Joe Dante never scored a bigger hit, but his subsequent career significantly defined 80s and 90s cinema with movies such as Innerspace, The 'burbs, Gremlins 2, and Small Soldiers. Goldsmith scoring every one of them until his death in 2004 (and movie scoring has simply never recovered from this loss).
Neither of them knew the massive franchise and fan-following which Gremlins would provoke, but it certainly deserves it's place in pop culture history.
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