Gremlins is . . . you know what? No. You know what Gremlins is. Don’t do that. This is a straight up classic, and if you haven’t seen it yet, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t ignore your family and spend a couple hours to rectify that. You’ll be glad you did. So spoiler warning in the review below, but that doesn’t matter because you’ve gone and seen it.
Gremlins has a relatively simple plot, though, fair warning, some of the points haven’t aged all that well. Randall Peltzer is a struggling inventor who travels to peddle his wares. Just before Christmas, in an odd Chinese bazaar, he buys a Mogwai for his son, a mysterious creature from the eastern world. But the Mogwai comes with rules: Don’t expose it to light; don’t get it wet; and don’t feed it after midnight.
Naturally, Randall’s son Billy does all three of those things almost immediately. Getting his new pet Gizmo wet makes it multiply quickly, so now he’s got a whole slew of Mogwai that seem to be led by one Billy dubs Stripe.
While Gizmo is nothing but adorable, Stripe and the rest of the mogwai have more sinister intent. After scamming Billy into feeding them after midnight, they transform into horrible little monsters bent on reproducing and taking over the world.
Billy has to step up and save the day from the imminent mogwai takeover. He kills most of them by exposing them to light, but when Stripe finds a pool and tries to make approximately a kajillion more of himself, Gizmo races in on a toy car and opens the sunroof, killing that bastard once and for all
What the Movie Does Right
Delightful. This movie is fucking delightful. The acting is all pretty great and the lead is charming and relatable. Gizmo is fucking adorable, and the humor all works really well. From soup to nuts, this thing is just fucking fun.
The effects are overall really strong, as well. The mogwai are a mix of puppetry and animatronics, and the look really good. Sometimes, the morphed gremlins are pretty obviously shot from the waist up, but they still look great.
What the Movie Does Wrong
Not a whole lot. The effects aren’t perfect. There’s one scene in particular of a whole herd of gremlins trundling down the street where the stop motion they used doesn’t hold up all that well.
Overall, the main problem with this thing is that the concept doesn’t hold up that well to scrutiny. You get told not to feed them after midnight, so what the fuck time can you start feeding them again? Everything is after midnight. And why aren’t people more interested in a whole new king of animal that suddenly apparently exists? The science teacher is kind of into it, but the dad and son should have been way more on this thing. Lastly there’s the issue of why water causes them to multiply, but beer and snow, among other water-based things, do not. Curious.
Story: 6 - The story is pretty simple, and has some regrettable mysticism of the East stuff going on, but overall, it’s above average.
World-Building / Immersion: 8 - Like I said above, this movie is delightful, and the fun and magic of the whole thing sucks you in so hard the plot issues don’t really take anything away.
Scare-Factor: 3 - There’s some decent jump scares in the lab scene, but apart from that, this is a pretty safe one to show to any audience.
Effects (or Judicious Lack Thereof): 8 - They’re great. Not perfect (see stop motion comment above), but great.
Overall: 8 - I fucking love this movie. Watch it every year without fail.