We have now crossed the halfway point of this year’s Christmas in July blogathon! SG from Rhyme and Reason is going to wrap-up day three. SG combines his two passions, film and poetry, to create truly unique reviews. He also loves a good list so you will find plenty of them on his site. Have a look after checking out his review of the non-traditional Christmas classic Gremlins.
‘Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the town,
Small creatures were stirring and scurrying round.
They once had been furry;
They once had been cute,
But now they were scaly, and evil to boot!
Because of one snack
After midnight had chimed,
The work of one boy who had gravely mistimed,
These creatures were rampant
And running amok,
And now the whole town had the awfulest luck.
The stop lights were blinking,
Car brake lines were cut,
The streets were replete with indulgence and smut,
And no one could stop them,
These little green men,
Who terrorized Christmas, resistless, and then…
They suddenly vanished,
A mess in their wake,
A warning to follow the rules, no mistake.
So be on your guard
Should your Christmas Eve stir,
Lest similar holiday havoc occur.
MPAA rating: PG (definitely more of a PG-13)
It’s good to be back with Drew’s Christmas in July Blogathon! After much deliberation on what to review, I finally opted for a film that has become one of the most classic unconventional Christmas movies. Along with the original Star Trek episode “The Trouble with Tribbles,” Gremlins’ tale of small, seemingly harmless creatures running amok has become an oft-imitated plotline, but Gremlins stands out through its hostile critters and, of course, its Christmas setting.
Aside from the blogathon reason, I mainly wanted to rewatch Gremlins because I only had a vague memory of the first time when I was a kid. Certain scenes definitely stuck out, but I couldn’t recall the connective tissue. The beginning is a classic horror set-up: dad stumbles upon a cute mogwai in a Chinese antique shop and brings it home to his son Billy (Zach Galligan), along with some very specific handling rules that you just know won’t be followed. While the cute creature named Gizmo (voiced by Howie Mandel) and his more rascally spawn are clearly puppets (except for one larger stop-motion scene), that only adds to the film’s status as a minor ‘80s classic. I’ve no doubt that a modern version of this film would use CGI instead, and that very datedness is part of the movie’s charm. Plus, I liked Billy’s inventor dad and his disastrous inventions, which reminded me of Caractacus Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
As was the intent, I was surprised then at how dark the antics got at times, the evil gremlins being much more malicious than the mischief-makers I thought I remembered. I mean, it’s not just pranks; people die, a fact which, along with the more gruesome deaths of some gremlins, directly contributed to the institution of the PG-13 rating. I also distinctly remembered a gremlin popping out of a medicine cabinet, which gave me a mild fear of medicine cabinets when I was a kid (I haven’t been able to find a scientific name for such a phobia); and of course, seeing it again revealed that the scene in question involved a normal school cabinet. Ah, what a fool I was…
But the best thing I found I had forgotten was how enjoyable a film Gremlins is, as well as how Christmas-y it is. It’s not merely set at Christmastime with some yuletide trappings in the background. The little devils embrace the holiday black-heartedly, attacking Santa Claus, pouncing from Christmas trees, suspending Billy’s dog in Christmas lights. And let’s not forget the horrific holiday story/urban legend that explains why Billy’s crush Kate (the lovely Phoebe Cates) doesn’t celebrate Christmas, an aversion that the events of this movie no doubt strengthened.
As both a dark family-ish film and a horror-comedy, Gremlins isn’t on the level of E.T. or Ghostbusters, but I doubt its well-worn plot has ever been done better. The creatures themselves are well-crafted meanies, though their ever more ridiculous antics in a bar scene go past parody into annoyingly silly territory. Otherwise, it’s a perfect scary-lite film to watch any time of year, but especially at Christmas.
Best line: (Chinese boy, describing the rules to Billy’s father) “First of all, keep him out of the light. He hates bright light, especially sunlight; it’ll kill him. Second, don’t give him any water, not even to drink. But the most important rule, the rule you can never forget, no matter how much he cries, no matter how much he begs: never feed him after midnight.”
Rank: List Runner-Up
© 2019 S.G. Liput
P.S. And for my Christmas guest, I think I’ll invite the lovely Chloe Bennet (aka Skye/Daisy of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), with mistletoe in mind. Thanks again to Drew for hosting a great Christmas party!
It’s my pleasure to, SG! As an Agents of SHIELD fan, I applaud your guest choice. 😀
Tomorrow is the second to last day of my annual Christmas in July blogathon and you won’t want to miss it!
Until next time, cheers!