How can we forget those important rules? (1) Don’t put it near light, especially sunlight, it can kill them. (2) Don’t let it get wet with water nor give it any water to drink nor bathe it. And most importantly, (3) No matter how much it cries or begs, NEVER feed it after midnight. These are the rules you need to keep your Mogwai safe, the rules needed to keep your Mogwai normal…. and these are the rules you need to follow if you don’t want a ton of dickish Mogwai-spawn wrecking your town and possibly killing people. Gremlins is definitely a Christmas classic even if it is a bit heavy with its death toll and sick sense of humor that is found within each and every little Gremlin.
A gadget salesman is looking for a special gift for his son and finds one at a store in Chinatown. The shopkeeper is reluctant to sell him the “mogwai” but sells it to him with the warning to never expose him to bright light, water, or to feed him after midnight. All of this happens and the result is a gang of gremlins that decide to tear up the town on Christmas Eve.
Now, given its proximity to Christmas as well as having, though sparse, themes that surround the holiday, this still feels like an odd choice as a Christmas movie. There is tons of death and, for the most part, the general population watches the film to see Gremlins tear up a town in spectacular fashion. But still, this movie does deserve a place at the Christmas table. First and foremost, the movie takes place around Christmas and even Gizmo himself, the best Mogwai of all, is purchased as a Christmas gift for the main character. There is also caroling, a Santa Claus being attacked, Christmas cheer and much more. Hell, the main character’s love interest even battles with losing the spirit of Christmas in this film.
And who doesn’t love Gizmo? He is super adorable in every way that a little sentient fuzzball could be adorable! He even wears a santa hat!!!! But he is a trust companion of the main character that is endowed with what appears to be a solid sense of right and wrong as well– which is always helpful. I want one, I will always want one and I do not care who knows it!
What is really great about this film is its sense of humor. It is a pretty dark and sadistic sense of humor at least on the part of the Gremlins. They start off as cute and cuddly little mogwai, but when they go full-gremlin, they terrorize the town. And they have tons of fun doing it. Whether it is laughing while they run down the neighbors with a tractor or attack a weak elderly lady, launching her from her chair through the second floor window and out into the cold– to her death, they have tons of fun. In a lot of ways, they are like mischievous little elves running around town. And how iconic is the caroling scene or the scene where they all pack themselves into a theater to watch Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs? AND LOVE IT! The cute and adorable Gizmo is why you initially start watching Gremlins, the twisted little Gremlins is why you keep watching it.
But again, you watch this movie mostly for the ridiculous ways in which the Gremlins proceed to thoroughly destroy the town. That’s it. So in all reality, while this film can be a Christmas movie, it need not be. You can enjoy this movie all year round. But for me, I will always watch it in December. It just feels right. However, I do not recommend that you watch this with little toddlers around. There isn’t any actual blood– but people very clearly die and there might be just a little too much of a horror element to this film for the young ones to really enjoy.
And always always ALWAYS remember:
… if your air conditioner goes on the fritz or your washing machine blows up or your video recorder conks out; before you call the repairman turn on all the lights, check all the closets and cupboards, look under all the beds, ’cause you never can tell there just might be a gremlin in your house.
— Randall Pelzter
In Cantonese Chinese, mogwai means devil, demon or gremlin. The Mandarin pronunciation is mogui.
The theater that blows up was subsequently involved in another accident when Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) in Back to the Future (1985), smashes into the front entrance at the end of the film. The theater then burned down with the rest of the buildings in the fire that happened right after the filming of Back to the Future Part II (1989).
The set for Kingston Falls is the same one used for Back to the Future (1985). Both movies were filmed in the Universal Studios backlot.
This movie is generally credited (along with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)) to influence the MPAA to create the PG-13 rating, as many felt the scenes of violence in both movies were too much for a PG rating, but not enough for an R rating.
Both Judd Nelson and Emilio Estevez were considered for the role of Billy.
An earlier attempt to have monkeys play the gremlins was abandoned because the test monkey panicked when made to wear a gremlin head.