Zach Galligan
Director: Joe Dante Cast: Zach Galligan
Zach Galligan
, Hoyt Axton
Hoyt Axton
, Frances Lee McCain
Frances Lee McCain
Joe Dante

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"Don't expose him to bright light. Don't ever get him wet. And don't ever, ever feed him after midnight." This sage advice is ignored midway through Gremlins, with devastating results. This comic Joe Dante effort is set in a Norman Rockwell-esque small town at Christmastime. Seeking a unique gift for his son an erstwhile inventor (Hoyt Axton) purchases a cute, fuzzy little "Mogwai" from a Chinatown shopkeeper's (Keye Luke) grandson (John Louie), who dispenses the above-mentioned warning before closing the deal. Meanwhile, young bank clerk Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan) must suffer such antagonists as rich-bitch Mrs. Deagle (Polly Holliday) and priggish Gerald (Judge Reinhold) while pursuing his romance with Kate (Phoebe Cates). These and a variety of other plot strands are tied together when the lovable mogwai (named Gizmo) is exposed to bright light and gotten wet. In short order, the town is invaded by nasty, predatory Gremlins, who lay waste to everything in sight as Billy and Kate try to contain the destruction. Like most of Joe Dante's works, Gremlins is chock-full of significant cameo appearances: in this instance, such pop-culture icons as Dick Miller, Jackie Joseph, Chuck Jones, Scott Brady, Harry Carey Jr., Steven Spielberg (the film's executive producer) and even Robby the Robot all show up briefly on screen.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Jason Bergenfeld

Executive producer Steven Spielberg teamed with horror director Joe Dante (The Howling) for this comical shockfest, written by Chris Columbus (Mrs. Doubtfire) in his Hollywood breakthrough. A Capra-inspired Christmas classic -- bizarro-world Frank Capra, at least -- Gremlins gleefully straddles the line between funny and frightening, as an army of animatronic creatures wreak havoc in a small town before the human residents figure out what's hit them and strike back. The story follows precocious Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan), who receives a cute-and-fuzzy (pre-Furby) "Mogwai" named Gizmo (voiced by Howie Mandel) from his inventor dad (Hoyt Axton). Gizmo comes with three strict, if cryptic, rules of pet care: no bright light; no water; and, most important, no midnight snacks. But rules are made to be broken: Soon enough, the winter wonderland of Kingston Falls catches a bad case of the Gremlins, and we have a monster movie on our hands. Ugly, green, and extremely mean, these Mogwai transmutations are the polar opposite of cuddly Gizmo. They seek only to torture and humiliate, which results in some shockingly crude physical comedy. From Billy's sweetly sarcastic coworker Kate (Phoebe Cates) to mean old Mrs. Deagle (Polly Holliday), no one escapes the depredations of these creepy critters. In 1990, Dante directed a sequel, which concentrated more on comedy than fright, but it's the original Gremlins that stays in moviegoers' minds.

All Movie Guide

Chock full of wide-eyed furry creatures that were being aggressively marketed as stuffed animals, Gremlins undoubtedly sent a misleading message to a lot of parents. The affiliation of executive producer Steven Spielberg, who was fresh off the success of E.T., surely encouraged parents further, but many were left shielding their children's eyes as a gaggle of reptilian gnomes burst forth from a swimming pool and began smoking cigarettes, wielding chainsaws, and killing off townspeople. Gremlins is not appropriate for kids, and it drew a lot of complaints, but it has some jokey pleasures and plenty of satirical bite, as a Capra-esque small town is turned inside out on Christmas Eve. The film was a box-office smash and a cultural touch point, with the viewing public quickly learning the three steps to avoid transforming the impossibly precious Mogwais into the all-id gremlins. The violence against humans is mostly cartoonish and bloodless, but the gremlins don't get off so easy; in a memorable kitchen sequence, featuring a terrified Frances Lee McCain, a pair of pursuing baddies get offed in a microwave and a blender, their orange guts splattered hither and non. Although directed by Joe Dante, the film features the undeniably Spielberg-ian theme of imperiled innocence in middle America, as well as his love for imaginative creatures. And the special effects crew has a grand time bringing it all together, making for a taut horror fantasy with lasting appeal.

Product Details

Release Date: 12/01/2009
UPC: 0883929003518
Original Release: 1984
Rating: PG
Source: Warner Home Video
Presentation: [Wide Screen]
Sound: [Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Time: 1:46:00
Sales rank: 13,710

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