A Look Back at a Comedy-Horror Classic


In 1984, Warner Brothers decided to try their hand at producing a comedy-horror flick. Combining gory scenes with humor, Gremlins quickly became a household classic. However, with new innovative movies at its doorstep, did it stand the test of time and become an all-time classic?

Our movie stars Billy, a young adult who still lives with his parents. One Christmas, his father is searching for the perfect gift to give his son. This is until he stumbles on a hidden shop in Chinatown, filled with many magical doodads. In the back of the store, he discovers a tiny, furry creature called a Mogwai. He’s able to procure the creature, and he’s informed of three important rules: never let the creature touch sunlight, never let him touch water (even for a drink), and never feed him after midnight. 

One of the very few issues I have with the film stems from the strange semantics involved in the ruleset. They’re so nondescript and vague that they almost seem intentionally misleading. The most detailed one is likely the one about sunlight. He doesn’t like light, and sunlight will kill him: that much is easy to grasp. However, the other two are what really grind my gears. Never let him touch water? How much water is too much? If I’m talking to him, and I happen to spit a little, is that going to set him off? And what of the midnight rule? Midnight is the very first minute of the day. Every single minute of every single day follows midnight. How does one not feed a creature after midnight?

Disregarding strange rulebooks, when Billy gets his hands on the Mogwai, hijinks ensue. The Mogwai, now dubbed Gizmo, doesn’t seem interested in breaking any of the rules. He doesn’t really seek out water, and he refuses food given to him after midnight. However, when a jar of water is accidentally spilled on him, he sprouts out several tiny Mogwai that quickly grow into full size. Now in charge of six Mogwai, Billy is reasonably overwhelmed. 

The leader of the new pack of Mogwai is named Stripe, identifiable by the stripe on his face and the tuft of hair protruding from his head. He’s essentially just a bad influence on the rest of the pack, making them cause trouble around the house. Eventually, the new pack of mogwai cut the cords to Billy’s clock, making him feed them after midnight. This causes them to enter a strange larvae-like form, in which they sit for the next day or so.

Eventually, the creatures hatch, and Billy discovers their true nature. He receives a call from his science teacher, to whom he gave a Mogwai. His teacher explains that the creature hatched and that Billy should come quickly. When Billy arrives, however, he discovers that his teacher is dead. 

The genre shift in this movie is one of the best I’ve ever seen. The movie starts out feeling sort of directionless but then hones onto its true meaning later on. Even when the movie shifts to a more horrific tone, it doesn’t lose its humorous charm, sticking to what gives it personality in the first place. After all, I don’t think a movie with villains that are about a foot tall could get away without humor. 

Billy quickly calls home and tells his mother to get out of the house, since there are five Mogwai that presumably hatched upstairs. In a choice that surprised no one, Billy’s mom decides to grab a kitchen knife and hold out against the gremlins. The action scene that follows is both extremely suspenseful and funny. Billy’s mother successfully kills three of the angry Mogwai. Her crusade continues until a Mogwai hiding in house decor gets the jump on her and subdues her. Billy quickly rushes in to save his mother, killing the fourth angry Mogwai. They see the fifth Mogwai, Stripe, escape through the window. 

Stripe quickly clones himself by jumping into the pool at the local YMCA, which causes a huge mob of Mogwai to begin terrorizing the city. I genuinely didn’t expect this movie to have an actual kill count, but enough people actually die that it’s pretty well deserved. Eventually, the angry Mogwai end up watching a movie in theaters. Billy and Gizmo sneak into the theater’s boiler room, unscrew a gas valve, and light a piece of cloth on fire before quickly escaping. This blows up all but one Mogwai, Stripe, who left the theater for a local candy store just moments before it blew up. 

This is when the final showdown of the movie takes place. I’m not sure what store sells chainsaws, toy cars, and baseball bats, but it’s apparently a store that Billy now knows well. In a cinematic final showdown, Stripe is finally stopped by sunlight coming through the roof, and the city is saved from the reign of the gremlins.

All-in-all, the movie holds up as an all-time classic. Horror and comedy seem like an unlikely duo, but they frankly mix seamlessly in this 1984 classic. It’s easy to find yourself laughing during one scene and hanging onto the edge of your seat in the next. It’s definitely clear to see why this movie was a sweeping box office success, seeing as how it defined its genre for years. Gremlins is a wonderful movie that I can only recommend.

Overall: 9.5/10

Categories: Entertainment, Opinion

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