a/perture Cinema, Amazon Prime, Chris Columbus, Chuck Jones, Corey Feldman, Frank Welker, Gremlins, Howie Mandel, Hoyt Axton, IMDb, Joe Dante, Judge Reinhold, Michael Winslow, Peter Cullen, Phoebe Cates, Polly Holliday, Rotten Tomatoes, Steven Spielberg, The Less Desirables, Zack Galligan
a/perture cinema, the Official Movie Sponsor of The Less Desirables, presents The Less Desirables Movie of the Week, Gremlins (1984), starring Zack Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Howie Mandel and Hoyt Axton.
Per IMDb: “A boy inadvertently breaks three important rules concerning his new pet and unleashes a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town.”
A struggling inventor of total crap, Randall Peltzer (Axton) is in Chinatown trying to score a sale on his totally useless Bathroom Buddy All-in-One gadget. He is trying to sell to an old Chinese antique owner when he hears a noise. It’s the sound of a mogwai, which in Chinese culture and lore is a kind of demon that inflicts harm upon humans. In this film, however, it’s a cute little “furby-like” animal. He wants it to give to his son, but the old man isn’t having it. The old man’s grandson is flabbergasted that he won’t accept $200 for the creature. The kid goes behind his granddad’s back and sells the mogwai to Randall. The kid tells Randall that there are three rules about mogwai that cannot, under any circumstances, be broken: keep them out of the light, don’t get them wet and no matter what, no matter how much they beg, never, ever get them wet.
Of course, Randall says okay and journeys back home to give his son, Billy (Galligan) the gift and gives him the rules. Billy, although an adult who works in a bank, is a bit scatterbrained and aloof about much of anything. He has a hard time keeping the mogwai, named “Gizmo” (voiced by Mandel) out of the light. His little pal, Pete (Corey Feldman) spills a glass of water onto Gizmo, which spawns a new mogwai every time one gets wet. Stripe (voiced by the voice of Fred, Scooby Doo and Megatron, Frank Welker), the leader of the new batch of mogwai is a bit unruly and the rest follow him, except Gizmo. They eat through the power cord of Billy’s clock and he thinks it’s before midnight – it’s not. This turns the cute furry mogwai into green slimy monsters or “gremlins.” These gremlins wreak havoc on the town. How? And, do Billy and his friends stop the critters? You’ll have to watch and find out.
A few things that stand out about this film to me. First, the B list all stars that appeared in this film: Judge Reinhold (who had been caught flogging the bishop to this film’s co-star Phoebe Cates just two years prior in Fast Times at Ridgemont High), Corey Feldman, animation legend Chuck Jones, Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime), Michael Winslow (the sound effects guy) and Polly Holliday who played Flo (“kiss my grits”) on TV’s Alice. Second, I have come to realize that no era of film requires the suspension of disbelief more than any almost every film released in the 1980s. Don’t get me wrong, I love 80s movies but when I go back and watch them now, even beyond the primitive special effects, which are endearing, really, they reek of K-R-A-F-T… Not even Velveeta (yes, still made by Kraft), but the cheap-o kind of imitation cheese.
I haven’t seen this film since the late 80s/early 90s and I now know why. I asked The BCPF if she wanted to watch it with me, this morning, and she declined. She knew better. The story is campy. The acting, quite suspect. It’s not a great film. However, there’s a nostalgia factor that comes into play. I was 13 when the film came out and I thought it was hilarious and fun. It’s still fun, beyond the parts that are borderline stupid. So, great or not, I still “like” it. It was produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Chris Columbus. It was directed by Joe Dante.
Rotten Tomatoes has it at 85% Fresh with an Audience Score of 77%. I think the critic’s consensus from RT says it best: Whether you choose to see it as a statement on consumer culture or simply a special effects-heavy popcorn flick, Gremlins is a minor classic. IMDb has it at 7.2 stars out of 10. I picked this film because it’s considered a Christmas film and I wanted to do something that wasn’t an ordinary Christmas flick. I watched the film on Amazon Prime and rate it 3 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen it? What did you think? What would you like to read/hear me review?
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“Now I have another reason to hate Christmas.” – Kate Beringer (Cates)