Sunday, 26 October 2008

Sunday Night at the Movies - 26 October

"Hi Ho!"

When was the last time you saw Gremlins? I hadn't seen it since I was a teenager, so, when Helen and I noticed it was on TV last week, we took the opportunity to watch a movie while Isabel was asleep. I must say, I'm pleasantly surprised that I did. It is refreshing to watch a movie that knows exactly what it is ('tongue in cheek' horror/comedy) , and carries out its story with such uninhibited and impudent glee.

The plot involves a father venturing into Chinatown to sell his wares, but instead purchases a little furry creature called a Mogwai (spelling?) for his son's Christmas present. Upon purchase of the Mogwai, the man is told to keep the Mogwai out of the light, never get the creature wet, and NEVER feed him after midnight. Of course, during the course of the film the Mogwai is implicated in all of the above "no-no's", asexually reproduces several furry offspring, who then metamorphosize into demonic, mischievous gremlins. These gremlins wreak havoc on the unsuspecting town of Kingston Falls, and it is up to Billy Peltzer and his girlfriend Kate to rid the town of the malevolent critters.

This really is a great film, filled with myriad comic gems. There are also several "in-jokes" and old film references for those with quick eyes. Admittedly the hijinks of the Gremlins are a bit over the top, and their colorful assault on the town bar becomes a descent into crude "schtick." But there are some truly great moments as well. Consider the scene where Kate relates the story of her father's disappearance and death? Phoebe Cates deserves the academy award for telling this story with a straight face. Classic! Also, just the notion that a horde of wicked green puppets (the embodiment of Yoda's evil stepbrother) could ravage a town, kill the inhabitants, and then gather in the local cinema to sing "Hi Ho" along with Snow White's seven dwarfs is absolutely brilliant.

So, if you're at the local video store and the latest Tom Cruise "mug-fest" is about as appetizing as a maudlin Jennifer Garner romantic comedy, then revisit the classic Gremlins. I promise you'll be furtively humming the theme song days after watching the closing credits roll.
*** 1/2
by Dallas


booktapes said...

Ha ha! That's awesome. I LOVE Gremlins.

I'm almost through your thesis, and I'll send it up with comments soon.

Dallas said...

thanks natey. i hope my thesis isn't too much of a slog. thanks for going through it for me.

Matthew S said...

I saw Gremlins when I was in grade school but I have the vague recollection that there was some kind of Japan connection to the Gremlin's origins; something about atomic radiation and/or WWII internment lingers in the back of my mind. Am I mistaken?

Dallas said...

you are not mistaken, there is an asian connection (purchase of mogwai from old chinese sage), and a WWII connection as the "crazy old coot" tells stories of being in europe and having the aircraft damaged by gremlins. the old coot then states that all "imported goods" have gremlins, so we should all buy american. but, he is specifically referring to a VW bug that won't start. i was hoping to get a bit of japan bashing, but it wasn't really there.