There are just some holiday films that are, frankly, bona fide classics. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Frosty the Snowman. Within the annals of hallowed holiday movies, there is one that provides heartwarming cuteness, humor, horror, and... Howie Mandel. I'm talking about none other than Gremlins, which first premiered in 1984 and has since gone on to carve out a unique place for itself in the very specific subgenre of Christmas-themed critter flicks.
Personally, I wasn't always hip to the greatness that is Gremlins; it took me several decades to finally get around to watching it for the first time as an adult, but it's since become an integral part of my holiday celebration. This year, I was more than happy to revisit it with a Deja View.
1. How did I forget the fact that this movie starts out looking like a film noir, complete with gritty voiceover, a sailor rendezvousing with a hooker in an alley, and Mr. Peltzer wearing a fedora while he strolls through foggy Chinatown?
2. Mr. Peltzer’s Bathroom Buddy is literally the size of a small toiletry bag and he seems to think it’s going to revolutionize travel? There is no space-saving option here. It’s the exact same size as what you would already be packing.
3. The Mogwai song is the most precious sound in existence, don’t @ me, I don’t make the rules here.
4. “With Mogwai comes much responsibility.” So Gizmo is Spider-Man.
5. One of my favorite parts about this movie is how they don’t even try to hide the fact that this neighborhood and Hill Valley are the exact same set, complete with clock tower.
6. Dressing your son up as a tree to sell trees feels like a very specific form of punishment.
7. Billy Peltzer is the exact kind of kid who would be allowed to bring his dog everywhere, even to work, and no one would mind because he’s just such a Swell Guy, complete with clip-on tie.
8. Even Kingston Falls can’t escape the inevitable franchise takeover.
9. “Cross your T.” Kate is kind of a boss b*tch and you can tell Billy’s into it.
10. Speaking of b-words who no one is into: Ruby Deagle deserves nothing but coal in her stocking this year, and by coal, I mean Gremlin poop. How does someone this awful even believe in celebrating Christmas?
11. I don’t remember the name of Judge Reinhold’s character but he’s trying to lure Kate over to his new apartment with the promise of cable TV. Is this the predecessor to Netflix and chill?
12. Speaking of animal cruelty, why didn’t Mr. Peltzer put airholes in the wrapping paper?! I am very concerned about Giz.
13. Gizmo isn’t a big fan of having his picture taken with the flash on. Honestly, same.
14. I have never been the same since I found out that Gizmo is actually voiced by Howie Mandel and now you won’t be either. Now you can think about germophobia every time you hear that precious Mogwai song.
15. Giz falls into the trash can and cuts his head and now I’m going to need nothing to happen to my sweet precious son for the rest of this movie, okay thanks.
16. Turns out Mogwai can make other Mogwai when they get wet and it looks like the birthing experience is very painful if Gizmo’s face is any indication but I’m over here wondering what would happen if humans could birth other humans from our backs.
17. Also, Gizmo is VERY SAD AGAIN and this movie needs to stop being so mean to him. Thanks a lot, Corey Feldman.
18. Billy should’ve figured out something was up with the new group of Mogwai when he found Barney strung up in the Christmas lights.
19. Kate’s that cynical, secretly dark girl who brings up the fact that suicide rates spike around the holidays but that doesn’t stop Billy from asking her out. Shoot your shot, bro.
20. I don’t turn into a scaly monster who hatches out of a cocoon when I eat after midnight, but there are occasional tummy regrets.
21. The scene where the Gremlins finally hatch into existence is some H.R. Giger-level grossness with the amount of slime that comes into play.
22. Okay, so trying to reason with a Gremlin will get you straight-up murdered. Good to know.
23. The Gremlins are SO MEAN to Gizmo. Playing darts with his tiny fuzzy body tied to the board? Throwing him down the laundry chute? Have some respect for your maker.
24. If this is the moment when things turn into a legit horror movie, Mrs. Peltzer is its Final Girl.
25. Stripe holding his nose before jumping into the pool to make ALL THE GREMLINS is one of the best tiny details of this film.
26. The biggest twist is that the Futtermans actually survive their home being literally bulldozed into, but that’s a cliff we’re all left hanging on until Gremlins 2. Spoiler alert.
27. One of the biggest surprises of minor casting? A very young Jonathan Banks currently in possession of all his hair, playing a sheriff’s deputy who clearly moved to Kingston Falls after experiencing some trauma early in his career because he folds like a deck of cards as soon as sh*t starts to go down with the Gremlins.
28. Mrs. Deagle dies and, really, nothing of value was lost.
29. Why Kate stayed in that bar as long as she did serving Gremlins is beyond me. They’re all totally wasted! It’s the perfect time for you to get out of there, girl. I guess it’s because she needed to have Billy come to her rescue because he is a solid gent.
30. There is a flasher Gremlin. That’s all you need to know. There is also a Flashdance Gremlin. Also one of them is playing with hand puppets and I’m not totally convinced it’s not a kinky sex thing.
31. This is the moment when we find out exactly why Kate doesn’t like Christmas and I can’t even begin to describe what happens to her as a child because it is so messed up that you’re just going to have to watch it.
32. The Gremlins would be the worst group to see a movie with. All that talking and throwing popcorn at the screen.
33. Gizmo singing the dwarves’ song from Snow White is basically worth the price of admission.
34. Do you think Spielberg enjoys being this self-referential in films he produces, or is it just a compulsion for him to drop as many nods to himself as possible?
35. Gizmo rolling up in a Barbie car to his human’s rescue while also finally putting his pesky Gremlin son Stripe in his place. This is like the moment when the kids have been misbehaving all day and then finally the parent snaps. Papa Gizmo has HAD ENOUGH.
36. More like “Bye, Billy, see you around until Gremlins 2: The New Batch.”