Director: Joe Dante
Frances Lee McCain/Lynn
Zany inventor Rand ( Axton) gets his son (Galligan) a new pet (a "Mogwai" to be precise) for Christmas The snag is that the cute furry little bugger comes with three peculiar rules to it: Keep it away from light, keep it away from water and don’t feed it after midnight. All three rules are of course eventually broken and hordes of mischievous, murderous, beer-loving critters are unleashed upon the town. My kind of Christmas!
"They're watching "Snow White". And they love it!"-- Billy
What better way to celebrate Christmas than by watching the holiday genre gem known as "Gremlins". I ADORE this film to "Reese's Pieces"! It just never fails in bringing out the kid in me. For the un-initiated, "Gremlins" is a wild, unique, inventive and extremely enjoyable B Movie inspired ditty that goes all out in the fun factor while sprinkling some messy, gooey moments here and there.
It should be said that much like the jerk writing this review, this baby is one hell of a schizophrenic head-case that’s not really sure what it wants to be. And you know what? That's part of its unorthodox charm. Is this a mean horror flick about killer varmints causing quite the ruckus or is it a kid’s entry with creatures being adorable and doing zany stuff? Well, it's both! The jumps between light and ugly were very frequent throughout this insane adventure with the best example being the show stopping, ultra-depressive monologue by Phoebe Cates who explains to us graphically the tale behind her hatred of Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, the scene worked on me, shite I had a couple of tears in my eyes, but it’s by far the best example of this nutty ride's tendency to play with extremes.
Amidst the slew of groovy visual effects (forget CGI, puppets is where its at), the many "aaaaah" inducing Gizmo bits, the clever plays on genre conventions and the onslaught of Pop Corn movie references, the three main elements in this Monster Mash that kept me hooked the deepest were: 1- All of the characters were developed to a satisfactory degree while being quite endearing. That made the softer moments charming and the scary bits mucho effective. 2- The love story (between Billy and Kate) was beyond sweet. It was played out subtlety and in an old fashioned kind of way…I fell for it big time. If only love in real life could be akin to love in this movie. One can dream. 3- The humor was delivered in a imaginative and unrestrained fashion: From Rand’s inventions going hog wild, to the countless Gremlin gags and antics the yuks-yuks were laid on thick for our viewing pleasure! Shite, even some of the murders managed to be side-splitting in their "out of line" cruel demeanor! You got to respect that!
On the extremely slight downside, I do have one "screenplay" peeve. Why was the character of a-hole "Gerald" (Reinhold) so firmly established early on to then be dropped off the face of the movie? He was "Taylor Made" for Gremlin fodder! That always bothered me. Having now watched the extras on the DVD , I know why that went down; editing for pacing. Bummer. But overall Gremlins is a BIG WINNER! It takes the viewer by the hand and guides him through so many different states that at least one of them is sure to connect and highly please. The cute moments were sweet, the scary moments were frightening and the funny moments were knee slapping. It’s a hard movie to pin down but in the end, one question should be asked: Is it well made entertainment? The answer to that: DAMN STRAIGHT IT IS…every single minute of it! DECK THE HALLS WITH GREMLINS OF JOLLY!
Let the green goo hit the walls! We get a Gremlin pureed in a blender, another one blowing up in a microwave and wait till you see what sunlight does to these beasties. GROSS! It gets slimy
Zach Galligan (Billy) was solid as the puppy dog eyed hero. He had that every day dude feel going and that made him very likeable. What happened to this guy? Phoebe Cates (Kate) played off Galligan like a Queen and was one cute gal to boot. I always get lost in her deep expressive eyes. Actor Kevin Kline (her husband) is one lucky man! Dick Miller (Murray) was a delight as the well-meaning drunk patriot. France Lee McCain (Lynn) did the old school wife thing perfectly and rocked even more when she became a relentless Gremlin killer. YOU GO GIRL! Hoyt Axton (Rand) played it down and simple…it worked! The man displayed much charisma. Corey Feldman (Pete) and Judge Reinhold (Gerald) were fine in their pre has-been roles. I really wanted to see Reinhold die though…bummer. Special props goes to Howie Mandel (he did Gizmo’s voice) for making me go "aaaaah...so cute" every five seconds. That voice must be a smash with the ladies. NOTE TO SELF: Must learn voice.
T & A
Phoebe doesn’t show us her Cates (watch "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" for her classic tit shot) and Zach Galligan goes shirtless once. Lots of naked Gremlins too…yum yum.
Dante did justice to the two main levels of the film. The humorous scenes were shot with high energy, great set-ups and even better pay offs. And the scary scenes were heavy on tension (love how he played with sound) and very well executed. Dante is obviously a fan of the B Movie genre because I felt the love for it ooze through the screen. Thanks buddy!
Jerry Goldsmith matched his engaging score to the many moods of the picture. BANG ON!
Distributor: Warner Home Video
IMAGE: The widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1 image is very cleaned up. The grains that appeared in the previous Gremlins DVD release are absent. The image is sharp, the colors defined, this is the best Gremlins transfer I've ever seen.
SOUND: The English Dolby Digital 5.1 sound kicked all kinds of ass! The many sounds, the bang on score and the dialogue WERE IN my living room. Good shite! We also get an options for: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround, French Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround and a Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround.
Filmmakers Commentary (feature length): Joe Dante (Director), Mike Finnell (Producer) and Chris Wallas (Monster Maker) all come in to reminisce about the shoot that was Gremlins. You can sense in their voice that they have a deep fondness for the experience (sounds like they're smiling all the time) while they give us lots of info on the production, the special effects and MUCHO trivia (shit...even the Warner Brothers logo gets that treatment). This is a really fun commentary!
Cast Commentary (feature length): Joe Dante talks the most and on the upside, what he says is interesting but on the downside, I wanted to hear more from the actors. When the performers do kick in (Zach Galligan, Howie Mandel, Phoebe Cates and Dick Miller) we get lots of on set, casting and personal stories that you haven't heard anywhere else. But for some reason, they all mostly come from Galligan and Dante while Cates, Mandel and Miller remain way too damn quiet! What's up guys...this is a commentary! HAVE FUN!! Did they even want to be there? Miller sure didn't sound like he did! Lucky for us Galligan and Dante keep the boat afloat. Even with its dead time, this commentary is still a good listen. Shit...how can it not be, they're talking about Gremlins!
Additional Scenes (~ 10 minutes): A montage of deleted scenes. We have the option of viewing them with a Joe Dante, Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates commentary on or not. With the commentary on, you'll hear Joe Dante explain why the scenes were there and why they were cut out, Zach Galligan keeps re-integrating how he doesn't remember shooting the scenes in question and Phoebe Cates just doesn't seem like she wants to talk. Zach forces a few words out of her, but I think she had her own shit going on when they shot that commentary. For all I know, Howie Mandel and Dick Miller were also present during this commentary but they didn't talk if they were there. One kool thing: we find out what happened to the Judge Reinhold character.
Featurette (~ 6 minutes): This behind the scenes featurette takes us on set to show us a couple of takes. Joe Dante and Spielberg come in to talk about the film. Effect wizard Chris Wallas and actors Zack Galligan, Hoyt Axton and a particularly beautiful Phoebe Cates also come in to talk shop. Did you see Phoebe's smile? WOW! She made me melt. An entertaining but short feature.
We also get Theatrical Trailers (Gremlins, Gremlins re-issue and Gremlins 2), Behind the scenes (a written text revealing tidbits about the production), Cast and Crew Filmography and a Picture Gallery
Overall, this DVD satisfied the "Gremlins" sleeping inside of me. Sure, the actors' commentary was kind of a let down but the whole of the DVD is a crowd pleaser and of top quality. WB does it again!
"Gremlins" is a well written and expertly executed genre treat that never gets old. Personally, it always charms me to a ludicrous degree, no matter how many times I see it. Yes, it sported an unbalanced tone but that upped its "unique" factor and is one of the main reasons why it feels so damn fresh. Forget the gifts, forget the family gatherings and the X-Mas tree, just open up a brew, rent Gremlins and discover what a horror X-Mas should be all about. Now will somebody feed me after midnight? I WANT TO PARTY TOO! la la la la la la- la la la la la la!!!!!
Some trivia taken from the IMDB.
The theatre marquee is showing a double bill: "A Boy's Life" (the working title for Spielberg’s ET and "Watch the Skies" (the working title for Spielberg's Close Encounter Of The Third Kind).
At the movie's finale, the gremlin leader, Stripe, hides from Billy in a pile of stuffed animals. A plush E.T. doll is shown prominently in the shot. This is a gag reference to the scene in Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in which E.T. also evades discovery by hiding among plush toys.
Zach Galligan had a crush on Phoebe Cates during filming.
Billy crosses the street and calls "Hello" to the town's doctor - Doctor Moreau, from H.G. Wells story "The Island of Dr. Moreau".
Robby the Robot is in a couple scenes. In one, he's talking on a phone in a phone booth wearing a hat. His lines are his end of the conversation with the cook of the C57-D in Forbidden Planet where Cookie is gets him to produce booze.
A subplot about Mrs. Deagle trying to buy some homes in Kingston Falls to build a nuclear plant was shot but cut.
A scene where Billy and Kate discover Gerald in the bank vault was added to the NBC TV showing.
Billy says he bought a comic at Dr. Fantasy's. Dr. Fantasy is a nickname for executive producer Frank Marshall.
The old lady in the bank is a homage to the Wicked Witch of the East from Wizard Of Oz.
Cameos include Steven Spielberg as the man in the electric wheelchair with a TV monitor, Chuck Jones as the man who looks at Billy's cartoon in the bar (with a Warner Brothers cartoon playing on the TV) and Jerry Goldsmith, at the inventors' conference, immediately behind actor Hoyt Axton in the phone booth. He's wearing a western hat with a mount for the phone.