RJ Bayley Reviews: Gremlins


Fond as people’s collective memory is for 1984’s Gremlins, it was clearly made with some crass, marketeering ideology in mind. That’s at least for Spielberg’s part. Its a miracle then that Joe Dante’s film still manages to muster the guts to be a 15 in modern times, putting it in the same certificate bracket as The Terminator and the underratedly gross Batman Returns.

In some respects Gremlins has dated quite poorly. The music is constantly conspicuous and grating. The central Gremlins tune is great, and it could have taken its place alongside The Raiders March, Superman March and all those other great cinematic ‘March’ songs if it wasn’t for the fact it was rendered in synthesizer sounds that are scalpels to the ear.

Likewise the leads of Zach Galligan as Billy Peltzer and Phoebe Cates as Kate Beringer are not leads at all and seem to fall into that category of “protagonist nobody” that was so prevalent in the 80s.

On the other hand some elements of the film have survived the ravages of time remarkably well. First and foremost are Gizmo and the Gremlins. Yes, Gizmo can get a little irksome due to the fact the filmmakers were trying so hard to make him cute and marketable it becomes sickening. However he is remarkably well realised with some flawless special effects which really do allow you to believe he is alive. Same for the naughty Gremlins he spawns who are laugh out loud funny. This goes especially for the sequence when they take over a bar with their drinking and smoking, a sequence which also shows how cine-literate the film is.

Gremlins may at first be a disappointment as it almost inevitable you’ve built it up in your head. Get over it though and you’re in for a treat.

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