Dir. Joe Dante
Reviewer. Dan Cook
Christmas can be a pretty crazy time for all of us and no movie exemplifies the anarchy of the festive season quite like Joe Dante’s wonderful 1984 comedy horror GREMLINS. One of the funniest and most rewatchable creature features of the decade, the film is an affectionately hilarious and notably nasty tribute to the monster movies and cheesy B sci-fi pictures of the 1950’s, with a horde of red eyed, razor teethed beasties causing havoc in a small American town following a young mans (Zach Galligan) failure to obey the specific rules regarding his new and rather strange pet.
Brought to life through amazing animatronic work and brief but impressive stop motion effects, the titular gremlins are undoubtedly the star of the show here and every single moment with them is an absolute riot - from the unforgettable introduction of the instantly adorable Gizmo (voiced by Howie Mandel) to my favourite part of the movie which sees the monsters, led by the small but sadistic Stripe, causing code-violating mayhem in a cinema whilst enjoying an impromptu screening of SNOW WHITE & THE SEVEN DWARVES. Hi-hooooo!
That’s not to say that the human actors, who range from Phoebe Cates, Zach Galligan, Hoyt Axton, Judge Reinhold, Dick Miller and Corey Feldman don’t do good work here. In fact, all of the cast do a great job delivering Chris Columbus’ dialogue with panache and knowing playfulness - particularly Cates who delivers one of the most out-of-nowhere monologues in cinema history with a brilliantly straight face as well as Polly Holliday who is enjoyably loathsome as the villainous Mrs. Deagle who gets her comeuppance in comically spectacular fashion.
However, for all of the casts efforts, they are all upstaged by their crazed cackling co-stars who rapidly turn the fictional town of Kingston Falls - whose set would be repurposed 1 year later as BACK TO THE FUTUREs Hill Valley - into the unlikely but beautifully decorated setting for chaos and catastrophe. Cute, creepy, cruel and comedic in equal measure, GREMLINS is a fun and ferocious festive favourite that gleefully indulges in the darker side of the most wonderful time of the year.