Today we continue down the dark path of the October Overlook Madness with a film that was talked on the Cinemassacre’s Monster Madness. Nope, haven’t seen it before. I know. Let’s go.
I know, I know, most people see this either when they’re 8, 12 or 25, but here I am, a 29 year-old grown-up watching Joe Dante’s ‘Gremlins’, considered among many to be one of the crowning jewels of 80’s filmmaking, and with reason! This movie is an absolute blast! It starts with lots of exposition and grounding of the rules, but when it blows, it doesn’t stop, it’s as if the Gremlins themselves got into the editing room and decided to cut it faster and faster until the movie ends in an apotheosis that’s insanely memorable and fascinating.
Everybody knows what ‘Gremlins’ is about, I don’t need to explain it or give it any sort of background, but here Joe Dante excels at what he does best, which is doing live-action cartoons, he brings these creatures to life by doing some extensive animatronic and puppet work, as well as some clever jokes that brings these creatures personality and a certain level of ridiculousness which emphasizes the overall tone of the film, between the horrific and the funny. Telling of that shift between the tones is one of the first outside attacks the gremlins do when they get out: attacking the house of the rich old lady that everyone hates, by launching her through a window and burying her in the snow. It’s funny, but knowing that that old lady must’ve died because of the hit, makes it horrific at the same time.
That constant balance can sometimes be detrimental, specially when it wants to make us care about Gizmo and the protagonists, which aren’t as developed as the creature scenes which steal the show towards the end of the film, but it works. Gizmo wins many points thanks to the cuteness factor, while the other characters seem likable because they are the end of the abuse of the gremlins, particularly the bar-tender in the absolutely incredible bar sequence, which has gremlins smoking, drinking, shooting each other, seducing, etc. From the halfway mark this movie just doesn’t stop introducing new elements, new jokes and new ways to look at these creatures, which haven’t aged at all.