“I’ll bet every kid in America would like to have one of these” – Hoyt Axton, Gremlins (1984)
One of the first 80s movies I ever watched was Gremlins. 80s movies have been a huge part of my life and my love of film in general, so this is a special one for me. When it came time to plan the 2021 holiday season posts, Gremlins was the first film subject I chose. I did not fully associate this as a Christmas movie until just a few years ago. Now that I see it as a Christmas movie, it is an essential part of my holiday movie lineup.
The movie begins with small-town inventor Randall Peltzer (Hoyt Axton) following a lead for a sale opportunity in a Chinatown shop, courtesy of the owner’s grandson. While making his sales pitch to the owner, he notices a small creature unlike anything he has ever seen. When the owner refuses to sell the creature, the boy who led Mr. Peltzer to the shop sneaks it out for him. Before Mr. Peltzer leaves, the boy gives him a list of rules for the creature that must be followed. Back at home, Mr. Peltzer gives his son Billy (Zach Galligan) an early Christmas present. When Billy opens the box, the creature inside pops into view: it has brown and white fur, large brown eyes, and large, bat-like ears. Mr. Peltzer shares that the creature is called a Mogwai, and there are rules they have to follow:
- Keep him away from bright light, especially sunlight
- Do not let him come in contact with water
- Do not feed him after midnight
Billy and his father decide to name the Mogwai Gizmo. The pair bond immediately, and Billy learns how intelligent and loving Gizmo is. However, when they start bending the rules, things quickly get out of hand. After water is accidentally spilled on him one day, Gizmo multiplies into five more Mogwai resembling him. It’s clear right away, however, that they have different personalities. While Billy and others in his hometown try to figure out the nuances of these mysterious new creatures, the new batch of Mogwai get into some mischief. Finding ways to break the rules on their own, they soon wreak havoc on the unsuspecting town.
Whether you come for the cute and fuzzy Mogwai, supernatural mayhem, or cozy Christmas vibes, Gremlins is a must for your holiday watchlist. Aside from that absolutely horrifying Santa story from Kate (Phoebe Cates), it’s a fun time. Gremlins brought something new and exciting to movies in its time, and it does the same among more traditional holiday films today. Also, who wouldn’t want their own Gizmo?
Until next time,