By Edward Boff – Odd to think that a film that makes so much of its Christmas setting was originally released in cinemas as a summer blockbuster.
By – Edward Boff
Odd to think that a
film that makes so much of its Christmas setting was originally released in
cinemas as a summer blockbuster.
Yet in the 28 years since its first release, Gremlins has gone on to be for many an alternative Christmas
treat. Part of that undoubtedly
comes from it coming right as the home video age was getting into full swing,
enabling fans to watch it at the most appropriate time of the year. Now it’s getting a limited cinema
rerelease. But how well does this
80s icon hold up?
Billy Peltzer’s (Zach
Galligan) just gotten an early Christmas gift; a Mogwai, a strange (and
utterly adorable!) creature his father (Hoyt
Axton) found in strange old shop.
However, to care for a Mogwai, three rules must be followed; keep them
out of bright light, don’t get them wet and never, ever, feed them after
midnight. When these rules are
broken, it leads to a Christmas the little town of Kingston Falls will never
It’s a childhood favourite for most of us, so the main
question here is, what’s it like coming back to this film after so long? It’s really good actually. For those already with many fond
memories, you’ll see watching it this time something that a lot of Steven Spielberg productions from that
time did very well; foreshadowing.
It may surprise you to see how much of the early acts of the film are
there specifically to set up later gags and scares later on. There’re fairly obvious ones, like the
stuff Gizmo watches on TV and more subtle ones, like some of the details of the
Peltzer’s kitchen. Back to the Future did the same thing
to an even greater degree. This
fresh look can make one appreciate what a smart screenplay it really is.
Then there’s the matter of seeing it on the big screen. The restored print for the film is
excellent, seeming very natural, with the level of grain and detail to be
expected of a film of this age.
The dividing line between a really good film and a great film is in the
little details and this print allows you to notice every one. Joe
Dante has always made sure his films were packed with little references and
shout-outs to other works, and Gremlins is no different. Again, most of these you don’t have to
be a massive film buff to spot, but others you’d only catch seeing it on a very
big screen, such as some nods to Dante’s last feature The Howling and, in one special effects sequence, a copy of
Fangoria magazine nearby. Going
in, trying to spot all of these, does add an extra layer to proceedings.
Finally, of special note is the sound mix. The cherry on the cake for this film is
the soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith
(the main theme will never leave your head EVER) and the sound effects. Gizmo wouldn’t be nearly as endearing a
character without Howie Mandel‘s
voice work and the manic laughter of the creatures themselves (as well as some
appropriate Looney Tunes-esque effects) really sells them. These are all brought to the fore in a
full, crisp, surround-sound mix.
However familiar you may all be with Gremlins from wearing
out the VHS as a kid, seeing it on a big screen is still a must-see experience
this festive period. For those who
haven’t seen it already, now’s the perfect chance to experience this not-so-happy
Holiday tale for yourself. The
dark comedy balanced with just the right level of horror, the puppet work, the
fun characters; this is a film that’s earned its reputation well!