Gremlins is one of the seminal films of my youth. I still remember my mom talking to another mom about how horrible it was, and that the kids should definitely not see it. That was it, I had to see it. I don't remember exactly when I got to see it, it was probably on HBO. I saw everything on HBO those days, before video rentals were the norm.
I don't remember it scaring me. I think that even at a young age, I got that it was a comedy. Maybe a few of the scenes scared me, I briefly remember being tense during the final showdown between Zach and Stripe in the department store, but that's it. Since then, I've seen the film around 20 times. But it's been almost 10 since my last viewing. I decided since my cousin was probably old enough to view it, I'd bring it down to watch with him as one of our Christmas movies.
We've all seen the film, (If you haven't what are you doing here? Watch it now!) I don't need to recycle the plot of cute little Gizmo being bought as a pet, and him hatching a whole gaggle of horrible Gremlins that take over a small town during Christmas. I'm surprised by how well the film holds up. I think it has to do with the use of puppets for the Gremlins. They look very realistic, their movements are very well done, and acting with those creepy looking things probably helped the actors believe the situation. They're not winking at the camera, they play it very straight, so one minute it's a little creepy, the next you're laughing. A tough mix to pull off.
This was advertised as a Spielberg family film when it came out in 1984. But the violence, probably the kitchen scene where the mom dispatches of a few Gremlins in nasty ways in particular, this and another Spielberg creation, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, lead to the creation of the PG-13 rating. Spielberg produced a lot of these edgy kids flicks in the 80's, he's gone on to say that he wouldn't do so now that he has kids, I guess he didn't realize how scary some of them were. But I loved those films, I hate how white-washed most kids films are these days, most kids love being scared and they don't like being talked down to.
However, my 12-year-old cousin didn't seem to impressed with it; so maybe it doesn't hold up as well as I thought. But I still really enjoyed it. It's darkly hilarious, really well directed by Joe Dante, and full of great 80's actors, like Phoebe Cates, Zach Galligan, Corey Feldman, and Judge Reinhold. It'll remain a Christmas staple in my life and in a few years, I'll probably introduce it to my son.