Cute. Clever. Mischievous. Intelligent. Dangerous.
Year of Release: 1984
Running Time: 106 minutes (1:46)
Director: Joe Dante
Zach Galligan ... Billy Peltzer
Phoebe Cates ... Kate Beringer
Hoyt Axton ... Randall Peltzer
Frances Lee McCain ... Lynn Peltzer
Corey Feldman ... Pete Fountaine
Dick Miller ... Murray Futterman
Jackie Joseph ... Sheila Futterman
Polly Holliday ... Ruby Deagle
Judge Reinhold ... Gerald Hopkins
Chuck Jones ... Mr. Jones
Nicky Katt ... Schoolchild
Tom Bergeron ... TV News Reporter (uncredited)
Keye Luke ... Grandfather
Frank Welker ... Stripe / Mogwai / Gremlins (voice)
Howie Mandel ... Gizmo (voice)
Fred Newman ... Mogwai / Gremlins (voice)
Mark Dodson ... Mogwai / Gremlins (voice)
Michael Winslow ... Mogwai / Gremlins (voice)
Peter Cullen ... Mogwai / Gremlins (voice)
Bob Bergen ... Mogwai / Gremlins (voice)
Michael Sheehan ... Mogwai / Gremlins (voice)
Bob Holt ... Mogwai / Gremlins (voice)
Jerry Goldsmith ... Man in Telephone Booth Glancing at Camera (uncredited)
Steven Spielberg ... Man in Electric Wheelchair (uncredited)
Sure, he's cute. Of course you can keep him. But heed these three warnings: 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, never feed him after midnight. With these mysterious instructions, young Billy Peltzer takes possession of his cuddly new pet. He gets a whole lot more than he bargained for.
Gremlins, remindin' us that somewhere on Steven Spielberg's 25,000 square foot yacht, there's a vault fulla reptilian monster porno. I mean, look at the guy's career up to this point; Close Encounters of the Third Kind, starrin' nekkid midget aliens with fetal alcohol syndrome, E.T., the butt-ugly mutant catcher's mitt from outer space, an now Gremlins. The latter of which fill up on Hooter's chicken wings one night an transform into last call hookers from the Mother Knows Best transvestite bar on 42nd Street. In other words - Steve's pretty much a must have for all your major "Hollywood Against Sexual Repression" fundraisers.
An speakin' of destructive freaks of nature, I been kinda depressed the last few days, ever since Reverend Dollarhide an the rest of the God Squad found out about the Slaytivity Scene we set up in the front yard an burned it in effigy. Some people got no respect for religious freedom in this country anymore, it's gettin' plum embarrassin' to even admit you're an American these days. They don't give a diddly about freedom of expression, an they sure's heck don't care about all the time we put into that thing. Skunky Hernandez spent three days buildin' a little drive-in backdrop, Sadie Bonebreak painted all the attendees, an it took Billy Hilliard an me over a week to clear off a full quarter of the lawn. I can't even remember where all that chicken wire came from, let alone the car batteries an cinder blocks. I remember Clovis Skidman droppin' the sofa off an just never gettin' it moved up on the porch though, an incidentally, if anyone needs a toilet, I got a couple I'll sell ya cheap. Was wonderin' where those things went. Anyway, the point is that we really did Drive-In Jesus proud, you shoulda seen it. All three B's (Blood, Breasts, an Beasts) were perfectly represented an positioned, just like a regular Nativity scene, only with a few minor casting changes.
Just have a look at this lineup an try tellin' me the sight of all these historical figures in one place could inspire anything BUT a religious experience:
The Davies Baby from It's Alive standin' in for Jesus.
Dyanne Thorne as The Virgin Mary (Sadie did an especially great job illustratin' Dyanne's two enormous talents).
Terry O'Quinn from The Stepfather as Joseph.
C3P0 as the gold bearing wise man, with the Swamp Thing an Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors as the wise guys offering frankincense an myrrh.
The Cenobites (demons to some, angels to others).
The Godmonster of Indian Flats as the sheep, with Reverend Kane from Poltergeist II & III as the Shepard.
Tor Johnson as the ox.
And of course, Mary Whitehouse as the Jackass.
The neighborhood kids loved it. They'd spend hours out front pokin' their pocket knives in the Mary Whitehouse doll, while the older boys were practically glued to the Dyanne Thorne mockup. I just about hadda bring Dyanne into the house before that "glued" expression became literal, if you know what I mean an I think you do. Course, then the kids hadda go tell all their friends in church, an next thing you know the parents find out an the superintendent hasta shut down the school on Monday so all the kids can line up for express exorcisms at the church. I guess it was the next day that the city council got my altar declared a sacrilegious public nuisance, an planted an arsonist in the midst of some Christmas carolers with instructions to set the Scene on fire while I was rollin' around on the ground in pain from the tone def rendition of "Silent Night." By the time they stopped it was too late to salvage anything. At least I can sleep at night knowin' the paint we used was from China, an that the lot of 'em prolly has permanent lung cancer now, but even that don't really put me in the holiday spirit. Ya know, I never really believed in that whole War on Christmas thing Bill O' Reilly's always howlin' about, but I guess it was true all along. Only thing he don't tell ya is how mosta the casualties come as a result of friendly fire.
That's alright though, cause even though some folks may try to burn down our most holy of sites, they know better'n to come inside the house where it's nice an legal to shoot 'em. So I figured what the heck, Christmas's already ruined, why not go all-in an review somethin' PG for the holiday. You might be wonderin' HOW they got the PG, after explodin' one of those ganjarrhea critters in the microwave an mutilatin' another in a blender, but that's actually pretty simple; it was Steven Spielberg, an he can do whatever he wants. He just flashes his Emmy statues at the MPAA board like a set of 48 DDs at a traffic cop an everything gets smoothed out like a tub of Country Crock spread. I think everybody's prolly already up to speed on the three things you never wanna do with your Mogwai, even though the not lettin' 'em eat after midnight rule translates pretty well to just about everybody. Too much post-midnight snackin' an you're condemned to a life of sittin' around on the couch all day pickin' the lint outta your belly button, after all. So I'ma just skip those an tell you about a few other things you can learn watchin' this flick that, while less obvious, are still essential to every day life. First, even 30+ years after the movie's original theatrical run, there's still no better way to calm an army of disgustin', ravenous, greedy misery monsters than puttin' a cartoon on the screen. Second, makin' your kid dress up like a Blue Spruce during the Christmas season may boost Christmas tree sales, but all the psychotherapy sessions down the road're gonna eat up those profits faster'n a pack of coyotes on a gut pile. An third, Gremlins don't come with microwave instructions, so proceed with caution during preparation.
Now, normally I don't care for subtle social commentary in my midget monster movies, but I gotta say, it's great to see a flick like this become a box office smash an receive so much critical acclaim, particularly when it means the entire world finally hasta sit up an observe exactly what it feels like to spend any time near their ugly, disgustin', monsters. This movie is basically 45 minutes cutesy plot, an a solid hour of recreations from Wal Mart security cameras taken during the holiday shoppin' season. What the heck's wrong with you people anyway? Did you get dropped on the shame centers of your brains while mama was tryin' to light 'er cigarette or somethin'? Finally, somebody had the guts to stand up to all the breeders out there an make a picture that shows 'em exactly what bein' stuck in the snack food aisle with them an their little drips off the ole cock is really like, an I gotta say, it ain't a pretty sight. Why can't you people just stay in the Dollar General where you belong, so us decent people can root through the merchandise at Lunk's Trunks of Fantastic Junk without havin' your rotten kids come screamin' by with a pool stick in one hand an a Joe Camel plush in the other? You ever been jabbed in the knee cap by a midget King Arthur usin' a pool cue for joustin' practice before? Course you haven't, you were prolly over in the kitchen wares tryin' to haggle 50 cents off the price of the Poker Playin' Dogs place mats, so I'll just go ahead an fill ya in; IT HURTS. Ya know that "we used to be the life of the party?" country song they play on the radio that makes ya stop your car an throw up in the snowbank? Well, this's why nobody invites you to the party anymore. So how about doin' the rest of us a solid an investin' in some child-sized straitjackets an Hannibal Lecter masks until the kids're old enough to be embarrassed by your New Kinds on the Block albums?
The movie begins with Hoyt Axton headin' into some dive antique shop in Chinatown to find a Christmas present for his kid, but mostly he just tries pitchin' this electronic shave kit that sprays toiletries all over the old Chinaman's Dropa Stone collection. Then Hoyt hears this noise like a guinea pig goin' into labor an the old guy's grandson shows 'im this fuzzy critter with Ross Perot ears. Hoyt wants to buy it, only the old man says "I cannot sell to you Hoyt-san, cause with Mogwai come more trouble than Duke Boys on TV box." Cept then the little traitor grandson sells Hoyt the plush toy anyway while Poo Manchu's hittin' the squatter an tells 'im that carin' for the Mogwai's pretty much the same as havin' a professional Korean Starcraft player in the house. That means no exposure to sunlight, no bathing, an no Hot Pockets after midnight. Meanwhile, in some town modeled after a Charles Wysocki jigsaw puzzle, Zach Galligan can't get his VW Bug started cause it's froze up like Windows 95 after tryin' to load Chip's Challenge, an after awhile Dick Miller drives up in his plow an explains that he'd better get used to it, cause cars're a lot like people, in that the foreign ones never seem to work. So now Zach hasta hoof it the full six blocks to work with his dog that's got hair like William Katt in Carrie (Barney), an about five minutes later The Bintch Who Stole Christmas (Mrs. Deagle) comes into his bank to show 'im her busted ass Faberge snowman head that Barney allegedly broke. Basically she's got more money'n God an Trump's Cabinet put together, an so she thinks that means she can just cut in line an suck 'er bottom lip up into 'er nostrils til she gets what she wants, an what she wants is Barney, cause she plans to take 'im home an torture 'im to death for bein' a menace to high society. Cept then Barney gets P.O.'d, jumps the counter, an starts chewin' the sleeve offa Cruella de Shrill's imported seal skin coat right in front of loan officer Bernie Sanders, an Zach just about gets deposited into the unemployment line. Then Zach goes home an Hoyt gives 'im his Christmas present so everybody can fawn over how wretchedly adorable the little Spock-eared Howie Mandell monster (Gizmo) is, only when Zach's mom takes their picture the flash causes Gizmo's pupils to swell up like a Betazoid on meth, an Hoyt hasta explain the rules. The next mornin', Zach tries makin' some OJ with this demon possessed juicer that Hoyt built outta discarded Saw traps an gets Slopacana'd within an inch of his life until he's stickier'n the floor in a 42nd Street porno theater. Then Corey Feldman delivers Zach's Christmas tree an accidentally spills his vodka tonic on the midget Ewok an pretty quick it starts squealin' an kickin' its legs like Arnold Ziffle wired up for electroshock therapy, until these gooey drain clogs start flyin' out of his back an next thing you know the little cat puke clusters start coalescin' into more Mogwais.
From a strictly biological point of view, this ain't right, so Zach decides to take one of the menace balls to the high school science teacher for a little hydrological demonstration, an when he sees what happens upon exposure to water he gets this look on his face like he forgot to bang on the hood of his Chevy Nova an just sucked a cat into his intake manifold. Then Zach leaves part of the rat pack with the teacher overnight so the guy can pretend he's William Shatner an reenact the Trouble with Tribbles Star Trek episode, while Zach walks Phoebe Cates home from work an listens to 'er get all P.O.'d about how insensitive he is for bein' happy around Christmas time when there're sufferin' people out there who hafta spend it with their families. She's pretty good lookin' though, so Zach overlooks that little bout of crazy an asks 'er out anyway. Then he goes home an feeds his litter o' critters a plate of chicken an it's just about the most disgustin' thing I've seen since that time I grabbed dinner at the homeless shelter on clam chowder night. Next thing, it's mornin', an all the Mogwais who partook of the KFC look like somebody threw up on a buncha box turtles an stuck 'em in the meat freezer. Turns out they were so hungry that they ate right through the cord on Zach's alarm clock an made it look like it was only 11:35pm when he fed 'em, an now he's stuck with a room fulla freeze dried elephant boogers. Meanwhile, the teacher's creature's also gone the way of the steamed cabbage, an pretty quick all the glopola balls're meltin' an belchin' out smoke like the Wicked Witch of the West, an by the time Zach gets over to the school the little snotmonster's done cut class an stuck a hypodermic needle right in the teacher's cracademia. Unfortunately, back at Zach's house, the gangrene herpes creatures're runnin' amok; pitchin' Gizmo down the laundry chute, blastin' Johnny Mathis on the record player, gettin' their mucus-covered mitts in the gingerbread dough, an generally terrorizin' Zach's mom until she gets so hacked off that she hasta crank the blender up to the "Soylent Green" settin' an turn one of 'em into a kale smoothie. Then she starts takin' heavy saucer shelling from the kitchen cabinet an moves in under cover of TV tray an slices another one of the little diareptoid mutants into green eggs an ham, before macin' a third turd with Pam an nukin' 'im in the microwave until he turns into a guacamole volcano. Mom's gonna have a Holly Jolly Christmas if she hasta kill every last one of these slimy sombitches, so from there she heads into the livin' room to take out any remainin' pockets of resistance, only she ends up gettin' attacked by the Christmas tree an dang near has 'er face chewed off, until Zach finally comes home an chops the tree bugger's head off with a sword. That just leaves the head green spleen, Stripe, who bails out the window an beats cheeks over to the YMCA on account of it bein' so fun to stay there.
Course, it ain't much fun at all for Zach, cause before he can get ahold of the little leper-chaun (he hadda rescue Gizmo from bein' smothered by the dirty boxer shorts in the laundry chute before givin' chase), Stripe jumps into the pool without his safety noodle an next thing you know we got smoke on the water an the whole goldanged pool starts bubblin' up like a motel jacuzzi on continental taco night. Now we got approximately 196,000 little hemorrhoid creatures roamin' the streets actin' like plastered hockey fans, an the first thing they do is go screw up Dick Miller's TV reception so bad that the antenna starts pickin' up soap operas from Belgium an Dick is seriously P.O.'d. Course, there ain't a lot you can do when a pack of sentient collard greens hijack your snow plow an install a drive-thru in your living room, as we discover when Dick hasta abandon couch an run for his life. Then, while Zach's tryin' to convince the cops of the hell comin' from Frogtown, the Jolly Green Midgets sneak into Mrs. Deagle's house an rewire the stairlift so it goes 300mph an launches 'er out the 2nd story window an deposits 'er face down in the yard like a lawn dart. Fortunately, somebody old enough to have credibility calls the police station to report a glopola monster incursion, only the mean green munchers go an chew through the brake cables on the cop car, sendin' 'em flyin' upside down into the only handicapped space in the entire Sears parkin' lot. Then they all head over to the pub where Phoebe works an get drunker'n Hillary Clinton's campaign manager on Election Night an start dancin' around like epileptic yodelers on cocaine, til Zach finally shows up to rescue 'er. Meanwhile, all the Gremlins go hole up in a movie theater to watch Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs an... look, I hereby suspend the review until this crap is over. This's supposed to be a monster movie an Spielberg goes an gets so schnozzled on eggnog that he thinks people wanna to see that trash. Alright... now that we don't gotta deal with that garbage anymore we can get back to the story. Fortunately, Zach's got a plan to make it rain grisly Gremlin death all over the city, so he an Phoebe sneak into the theater's boiler room so they can unhook the gas line, an just like that - KABOOM! Creature creole. All except for Stripe, of course, who hadda get up to be sick while the Seven Dwarfs were singin' earlier an ended up raidin' the candy rack across the street for some more Three Musketeer bars. This's a pretty good place to cut off, so if for some pitiful reason you dunno how this holiday classic ends, be sure to grab a copy an check out the disgustin' climax as Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, an the mutant gerbil take on Stripe inside the JC Penny.
Ya know, I got nothin' against this movie, but why is it that every time Steven Spielberg gets involved with a project SOMEBODY gives him too much creative control an he goes into full-on wimp mode? I mean, E.T. was originally gonna be evil alien monsters from outer space comin' down to Earth to laser out our eyeballs and just look what happened. Then he gets Tobe Hooper to direct Poltergeist for him, and the next thing you know all the teeth on Mr. Chainsaw get filed down into toothpicks. And finally we get Gremlins, which, originally had the ugly little boogers murdering Billy's dog and rolling his mother's severed head down a flight of stairs, until Spielberg comes along and vetoes that too (I'm not forgetting about Jaws by the way. It's another classic, but it got a PG rating because the bulk of its horror is psychological). Guy's an ingrate, that's the problem. We all went to see Close Encounters of the Third Kind and made him so much money that he just decided to tease us with brilliant, disgusting concepts, only to continuously jerk the rug out from under us. I mean, sure, all those movies I mentioned are sublime, as is Gremlins, but when you've got all these great ideas that're horrifying enough to make H.P. Lovecraft wake up in a cold sweat, you'd think the man could afford to throw us a bone and maybe not completely neuter at least one of these flicks. Steve's the only guy in Hollywood that LIKES being typecast, apparently. At least he let Joe Dante keep that great speech about Phoebe Cates' dad dyin' in the chimney on Christmas Eve when she was a little girl. Sure, it's morbid, strange, and even a little out of place, but it's also funny in a way that perfectly encapsulates the overall tone of the movie. On the other hand, one of the less obnoxious changes between the original script and the finished product was the fact that Gizmo was originally going to transform into Stripe and pull the ole babyface/heel switcheroo, but Spielberg ixnay'd that idea. Something else that's kinda funny about it, considering it's a bona-fide Christmas classic, is that despite being set during Christmas, it ended up getting released during the summer of '84 when Warner realized they didn't have anything to compete with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom or Ghostbusters. These days nobody dares go up against a juggernaut like Indiana Jones, because the best case scenario is a serious split at the box office between two exceptional movies, but in the olden days studios had this thing called pride that seems to have dissipated somewhere in the late '90s. Ultimately, it released on the same day as Ghostbusters, and only managed to make it to #4 on the box office earnings list for the year, when it probably would have killed had it been released around Christmas time.
In any event, let's feed this thing after midnight and see if it grows enough teeth to actually justify the "Comedy/Horror" distinction. The plot is really pretty simple, and essentially gives physical form to a term previously used to describe unexplainable mechanical failures pertaining to aircraft. But simple as it is, by putting that tangible spin on a mythical concept that most people were already familiar with, you end up with an interesting premise that's still intrinsically grounded in "reality," thus making it easy for people to relate to. It's really the seemingly random (and ultimately oxymoronic, because after all, it's ALWAYS after midnight) details that make the movie so much fun, particularly the three iconic rules for Mogwai caregiving. I guess I really don't have much right to complain about the movie's lack of teeth, because they did manage to sneak in several scenes that go a little beyond "family friendly," without actually making a movie that inadvertently scares children. Basically, it walks a really fine line, and never loses its balance. The acting, at least from the primary cast, is honestly not as good as we're used to seeing in Spielberg movies, although that deficiency is more than made up for by all the great character actors featured in supporting roles. Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates aren't *bad* by any means, but you really wouldn't rate their performances up there with Dee Wallace in E.T., Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters, or Robert Shaw in Jaws. That said, you've got Hoyt Axton doing a great job as the father and bumbling inventor, Dick Miller as the down-on-his-luck Murray Futterman, Corey Feldman as the Christmas tree hockin' kid who causes the Mogwai outbreak, and Polly Holliday as the mega-bitch, Mrs. Deagle. All excellent supporting performances that almost pull the total acting score up to the mark you'd expect for a Steven Spielberg flick.
Here's who matters and why (less Corey Feldman, Dick Miller, Frank Welker, Howie Mandell, and Steven Spielberg): Hoyt Axton (King Cobra, Buried Alive 1980, Retribution, Endangered Species), Keye Luke (Gremlins 2, Dead Heat, The Cat Creature, Rodan, Godzilla Raids Again, Invisible Agent), Don Steele (Death Race 2000, Eating Raoul, Targets), Scott Brady (Strange Behavior, The Night Strangler, Marooned, Satan's Sadists, Nightmare in Wax, The Mighty Gorga, Journey to the Center of Time, Castle of Evil, Destination Inner Space), Arnie Moore (Friday the 13th IV), Harry Carey Jr. (Back to the Future III, Legion, The Exorcist III, Cherry 2000, UFOria, Endangered Species, Cyborg 2087, Billy the Kid vs. Dracula), Zach Galligan (Gremlins 2, Waxwork I & II, The Chair 2016, Hatchet III, Nightbeasts, Cut, Legion of the Dead, Infested, The Tomorrow Man, Cyborg III, Warlock 2, Hellraiser III, The Psychic 1990, Rising Storm), Phoebe Cates (Gremlins 2), Donald Elson (Escape from the Planet of the Apes), Belinda Balaski (Gremins 2, Piranha 1978, The Warlord: Battle for the Galaxy, Amazon Women on the Moon, Explorers, Till Death, The Food of the Gods, The Howling), Judge Reinhold (The Hollow, Big Monster on Campus, Pandemonium), Lois Foraker (Child's Play 3, The Exorcist III, Legion), Chuck Jones, Innerspace, The Phantom Tollbooth), Frances Lee McCain (Back to the Future, Scream), Glynn Turman (Super 8, John Dies at the End).
Additionally, you've got: Nicky Katt (The Dark Knight, Planet Terror, Death Proof, Phantoms, Batman and Robin, Martians Go Home, The 'Burbs), Tracy Wells (Mirror Mirror 2, After Midnight), Gwen Willson (Black Magic Woman), Jackie Joseph (Gremlins 2, The Little Shop of Horrors 1960), Jonathan Banks (Dark Breed, Pin, The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension), James MacKrell (Teen Wolf, The Howling, Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death, I Saw What You Did, Pandemonium), Fred Newman (voice acting: Men in Black, Harry and the Hendersons, Munchies, Explorers), Mark Dodson (voice acting: Gremlins 2, Ewoks: Battle for Endor, Day of the Dead, Return of the Jedi), Michael Winslow (Spaceballs, Lavalantula I & II, Sharknado 3, Gingerclown, Starchaser: The Legend of Orin, The Assassination Game), Peter Cullen (voice acting: Voyage of the Rock Aliens, King Kong 1976), Bob Bergen (voice acting: Ghoulies III, Total Recall, Fright Night 2), Michael Sheehan (voice acting: Gremlins 2. Live action: Earthlings, The Swarm), Bob Holt (voice acting: Wizards, Explorers, Abby), Jerry Goldsmith (Gremlins 2), Marvin Miller (Kiss Daddy Goodbye, Empire of the Ants, Fantastic Planet, Invasion of the Astro Monster, The Phantom Planet, The Day the Earth Froze, The Deadly Mantis, Forbidden Planet, King Dinosaur, Godzilla Raids Again, Red Planet Mars), William Schallert (Matinee, Twilight Zone: The Movie, Hangar 18, The Monolith Monsters, The Incredible Shrinking Man, Tobor the Great, Them!, Gog, The Man from Planet X, Mighty Joe Young 1949), Kenneth Tobey (The Thing from Another World, It Came from Beneath the Sea, The Naked Monster, Hellraiser 4, Gremlins 2, Ghost Writer, Freeway 1988, Strange Invaders, Ben, The Vampire 1957, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, The Howling).
And that's just all the roles we care about. Get a load of the list of credits for all the guys who went indoors on us. Which, I guess makes sense, cause this movie's about as indoors as it gets. Anyway: Keye Luke (voice acted Zoltar on Battle of the Planets, and acted as Master Po on Kung Fu, and of course, was Charlie Chan's number one son in all his movies), Scott Brady (Herman de Young in The China Syndrome, and Shotgun Slade in the series of the same name), Harry Carey Jr. (Brad Jorgenson in The Searchers, Pop Dawson in Big Jake, Dan Latimer in Red River, and Trooper Boone in Rio Grande), Phoebe Cates (Linda Barrett in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and Elizabeth Cronin in Drop Dead Fred), Polly Holliday (Flo Castleberry on Alice, and then its spinoff, Flo), Edward Andrews (George Babbitt in Elmer Gantry, and Commander Roger Adrien on Broadside), Judge Reinhold (Billy Rosewood in the Beverly Hills Cop series, Brad Hamilton in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and Neil Miller in The Santa Claus series), Frances Lee McCain (Ethel McCormack in Footloose, and Judy in Patch Adams), Glynn Turman (Jeremiah Koon on House of Lies, Mayer Royce on The Wire, Colonel Bradford Taylor on A Different World, and Lew Miles on Peyton Place), Nicky Katt (Greg Weinstein in Boiler Room, Detective Vitole in The Brave One, Fred Duggar in Insomnia, Nate Petite in Snow Angels, Harry Senate on Boston Public, and Tim in SubUrbin), Tracy Wells (Heather Owens on Mr. Belvadere), Jackie Joseph (Jackie Parker on The Doris Day Show), Jonathan Banks (Zack in Beverly Hills Cop, Mike Ehrmantrout on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, and Frank McPike on Wiseguy), Joe Brooks (Trooper Vanderbilt on F-Troop), Mark Dodson (narrated the TV series Natural Born Killers), Michael Winslow (Larvell Jones in the Police Academy Series), Peter Cullen (voiced Optimus Prime on The Transformers and Transformers Prime, Monterey Jack on Rescue Rangers, Sergeant House on the Rambo TV series, Eddie Spencer on Ghostbusters, Eeyore on The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and handled narration duties on Voltron: Defender of the Universe), Bob Bergen (voiced Porky Pig on The Looney Tunes Show, and Tim the Witch Smeller on Sabrina the Animated Series), Michael Sheehan (voiced Rio Pachero on Jem), Bob Holt (voiced Mr. Seaworthy on The Snorks), Marvin Miller (narrated on the TV series The F.B.I., and Michael Anthony on The Millionaire) William Schallert (Russell Lawrence on The New Gidget, and Martin Lane on The Patty Duke Show).
The special effects, for the most part, are spectacular. These were state of the art at the time (with each Gremlin apparently costing between $30,000 - $40,000, or half the value of the average home), and pitifully enough, still cast a rather unflattering light on the computer generated effects being produced 30+ years later. You've got puppetry of just about every variety known to man here, including: animatronics, hand puppets, rod puppets, wire manipulated puppets, and probably a few more I'm forgetting about, and all of it is excellent. What's especially impressive is how good everything looks when the Gremlins are in motion, which is the real test of a puppeteer and a puppet. Just look at the scene where Stripe rides the tricycle near the end and you'll realize precisely how great a job everyone did on this flick. That said, nearly 10 additional years of creature creation effects later, one must acknowledge that the basic puppets look noticeably better in Gremlins 2, even if the overall movie itself is not better. There's also one brief shot where the Gremlins amass in the streets of Kingston Falls after having just been birthed in the YMCA pool, which is done with stop motion, and it's about as good as you can expect for that particular method. I'd also like to mention that at one point they were considering putting Gremlin heads on monkeys for the action sequences, but that idea pretty well fell through when the monkeys started freakin' out about the masks being placed on their heads. Still, it's a funny image to think about.
The Kingston Falls set is excellent, and would later become the same set used for Hill Valley in Back to the Future. The town was built on the Warner Brothers lot, and perfectly fits the idea of the quiet, average, Anytown U.S.A., while simultaneously having a 1950s nostalgic glow to it. And despite not playing as big a role as the special effects, some of the sets have become iconic over time. Particularly the pub, which is probably the most famous scene in the movie. Although, the classroom, movie theater, and police station all bring a great deal of charm to their respective scenes as well. The soundtrack, which is strangely not composed by John Williams, is another strong point, with the extremely talented Jerry Goldsmith stepping in and proving he's a master composer in his own right. Maybe John composes when Steve directs, and Jerry composes when Steve produces, I dunno, but the soundtrack also manages to strike that perfect balance between comedy and horror that the rest of the film strives for. You've got the more intense, serious tracks for the Christmas tree attack scene and the pool sequence, and goofier ones for the snow plow attack and Mrs. Deagle's theme music, with neither going too far in one direction, but going far enough to create the proper mood. Overall, Gremlins is another title in a long list of Steven Spielberg triumphs that even us social deviants can't help but love, and a fantastic Christmas flick to boot, so be sure to check it out each and every Christmas.