Gremlins comes back to the IMAX for Christmas
First released back in the summer of 1984, when it enjoyed massive commercial success, festive black comedy Gremlins is back on the big screen with new digital prints. Thankfully though, Gizmo et al have not been CGI enhanced, and 3D glasses will not be required.
Even if you didn’t catch this horror comedy (horredy?) the first time around, it is unlikely you will have escaped its merchandising, namely the ubiquitous furry dancing Gizmos still pulling in cash 28 years later.
Executive producer Steven Spielberg claimed the plot was one of the most original he had come across in years. Conceived and written by Chris Columbus, known for other timeless adventures The Goonies and Home Alone, and directed by Joe Dante, Gremlins was destined for cult status from the start.
Whilst fruitlessly searching for a Christmas gift for his son, failing inventor Randall Peltzer (Hoyt Axton) is led by a small boy to his father’s underground antique shop. Here we first encounter a small furry creature known as a mogwai, kept in a darkened cage at the back of the shop, and just the sort of gift the seemingly unfazed Randall has been looking for.
As the shopkeeper is unwilling to part with the mogwai, for any sum of cash, due to the “great responsibility” that comes with it, the owner’s son has to sneak the creature out the back, making sure his customer is aware of the three rules that must never be broken, these being: “Don’t ever get him wet. Keep him away from bright light. And the most important thing, the one thing you must never forget, no matter how much he cries, no matter how much he begs… never, ever feed him after midnight.”
Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan) is enchanted by his new giant-eyed and elf-eared pet, which his father has named Gizmo, and shows him off to his friend Pete (a very young Corey Feldman). Gizmo is impossibly cute, friendly and tame but things start to go awry when Pete spills a glass of water over Gizmo (rule number one!), who begins to convulse and… multiply. The more the merrier it would seem, and all would be well if the new mogwais were as loveable as their originator, but no. The new spawn bite, spit and generally destruct, and when Billy accidently feeds them after midnight, they really come out of their shells. The mogwais morph into grey, slime-covered eggs, hatch into evil reptilian gremlins equipped with teeth and claws, and then the carnage begins.
The Peltzer house is overrun, and, soon after, gremlins have taken over the neighbourhood in their thousands, led by the scariest of them all, Stripe (named after his distinctive tuft of white hair). Armies of gremlins ravage the local bar, demolish the YMCA and inhabit letterboxes, all contrasted against a festive snowy white backdrop.
Gremlins wreaking havoc in blenders, microwaves and snow-ploughs ensue, seeing off the locals left, right and centre, but despite this it’s still hard to believe that the film was criticised at the time for its overly violent scenes, as they seem rather timid in contrast to today’s offerings.
As black comedies go, Gremlins is one of the greats, balancing the right amount of sentimentality and gore, laughs and shocks. Despite seismic subsequent advances in digital technology, Gremlins does not fall short in any way, and calls to mind a simpler time when audiences didn’t need so many bells and whistles to be entertained.
For nostalgia’s sake, and as a contrast to this year’s more conventional Christmas releases, seeing Gremlins back on the big screen is a must.
Gremlins is released nationwide on 7th December, opening at IMAX Waterloo and in selected theatres.
Watch the trailer for Gremlins here