ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Movie Review: Gremlins (1984)

Updated on February 12, 2011
Gizmo, a "mogwai," voiced by then-young Canadian comedian Howie Mandel
Gizmo, a "mogwai," voiced by then-young Canadian comedian Howie Mandel

A cute pet spawns a legion of monsters in this 1984 horror-comedy from director Joe Dante and producer Steven Spielberg.

The movie could have been darker, but Spielberg reportedly steered the production in a more family-oriented direction. The result still has a few scares, however, and Gremlins remains a lot of fun today, providing both laughter and screams.

Buy Gremlins (1984) on DVD

Buy Gremlins (1984) on Blu-Ray

Set at Christmas, the film stars Zach Galligan as Billy, who receives the gift of a pet "mogwai" from his dad, a failed inventor played by the late Hoyt Axton. The mogwai is an adorable furry creature that comes with a few rules that, so it turns out, you really need to be strict about. For a start, don't give it water to drink, and don't get it wet. Keep it away from bright lights and especially sunlight, which will kill it. The most important rule is never feed it after midnight. Billy unwittingly breaks the first rule, causing the mogwai to breed. The mischievous new batch tricks Billy into feeding them after midnight, and the result is little green monsters who set out to wreak havoc on the quiet town of Kingston Falls.

Gremlins is a very nostalgic film. It's full of references to old films, with clips from It's a Wonderful Life and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, among others, each of which influences the movie's atmosphere, albeit in different ways. The cast list is full of actors who built careers in old B-movies, including Keye Luke, Dick Miller, Harry Carey, Jr, and Scott Brady. There are also a few actors who went on to make bigger names for themselves, such as Judge Reinhold and Corey Feldman.

While there's definitely a lot of cuteness going on to draw in the sort of audience that loved ET: The Extra-Terrestrial, at the same time it's a dark film, a black comedy permeated by streaks of ironic, almost sadistic humour. Try suppressing the laughter as the nasty Mrs Deagle (undoubtedly a close relative of Margaret Hamilton's Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz) gets her comeuppance at the claws of the gremlins. And try resisting grins of wicked delight as Billy's mother (Frances Lee McCain) takes on two of the creatures in her kitchen, shredding one in the blender and literally popping another in the microwave.

The pre-CGI effects are good, using mainly puppetry, with a few pleasingly quaint-looking sequences of stop-motion animation. There's a fair bit of gore -- if you can call it that. Gremlins spurt green goo instead of blood, so that's up for debate. Plenty of them come to a gruesome end, and, in another nod to fans of vintage horror movies, the final showdown pays affectionate homage to the ending of the Hammer film Horror of Dracula (1958).

Gremlins is a highly entertaining picture, 90 minutes of breathless comic-style tomfoolery that flies by. If you have a slightly twisted sense of humour -- as this writer does -- you may want to add this to your regular list of films for the Christmas season; though it's such wickedly good fun, you might want to watch it all year round.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)