Released 06/08/1984 Rated: PG
I did it. I faced my demons. And by that I mean I rewatched this movie. There are certain movies from my childhood that I didn’t care for. Gremlins is the bigger offender. (I didn’t exactly care for Beethoven either, but not for the same reasons.) Revisiting this film definitely wasn’t as bad as I feared. This movie is ridiculous. I was shown this movie in KINDERGARTEN… And for those of you unaware, let’s throw in some relevant trivia here: Gremlins and Temple of Doom are the two main films responsible for the creation of the PG-13 rating. I saw them both around the same time in my childhood. I remember scenes from Temple of Doom same as I do Gremlins, but Temple of Doom didn’t give me nightmares. So yeah, this movie doesn’t sit well in the mind of a five-year-old.
So my biggest take away from watching it now is how much shit Gizmo goes through. He gets water spilled on him and his back freakin’ boils! This creature is writhing on the ground in clear agony, screaming as four or five new creatures develop from the little fur balls that shoot out of him. That’s bad enough, but then Billy brings Gizmo to the single school science teacher and goes “Watch this.” Granted, it’s just one drop of water resulting in one extra Mogwai, but still!! If I knew THAT’s what water did to my new pet, you better believe I wouldn’t let water anywhere near him, let alone deliberately throw it on him! WTF man?!
And the instant the fur balls separate from him Gizmo just has this look on his face like “This isn’t good.” He knows the other Mogwai are going to be trouble because he’s already gone through this before. They’re rowdy and rude, and pick on Gizmo. And that’s before they even turn. Then they really try to kill him. Poor Gizmo! He gets strapped to a dart board, quaking in fear as the gremlins throw darts at him. I seriously feel bad for this creature! I think it has something to do with all of the extreme close-ups showing Gizmo’s emotionalism. Don’t get me wrong, he’s cute and all, but they could have backed off a little. Some of his faces are a bit much for me.
The best thing about this movie is Billy’s mom. She is killing gremlins left and right in her kitchen without batting an eye. And O.M.G. that scene… That’s probably what messed me up the most when I was little. It’s proof that this isn’t a kid-friendly movie. She turns the blender on while one gremlin is inside the bowl eating the icing she was using to decorate cookies. Dark green blood and chunks of viscera fly everywhere while it spins around. It’s so disturbing, but it gets worse. One of them gets microwaved to death. Full on explosion in the microwave. (I still couldn’t watch that scene.) And she straight up stabs one to death, mostly off screen, but it’s still such a violent act. It’s funny, though; throughout this scene we were pegging each gremlin as Stripe until he actually came on screen and we’re like …oh. THAT’s Stripe.
I remember them finding the teach dead under the desk. To be honest I don’t feel as bad for the teacher as I do for the Mogwai he had. He wasn’t treated very well either. I get that the teacher is studying it, but it’s still a creature with feelings and needs. Clearly it was hungry when it went for his sandwich past midnight. The teacher clearly didn’t care for him properly.
I also remember the YMCA scene, which is another one that messed with me, but I remember it differently. I thought it was at the end of the movie. Stripe attacks Billy and Billy flings him into the pool to get him off of him and he drowns. Then the smoke rises up from the pool in billowing plumes of finality. Nope! This is much worse! Stripe deliberately jumps into the pool (which I can only assume is utter agony considering Gizmo’s reaction earlier) and the pool boils violently and smoke fills the building while light flashes.
Thinking back on this scene, I had a friend back then who had a Jacuzzi in her back patio. They could put on the jets on the sides, or bubbles from the center (forgive me if there’s a technical term I’m missing.) I don’t remember freaking out when she switched on the bubbles, but I sure as hell didn’t care for it. I have a sneaking suspicion it’s because of this movie. Things make sense now.
And I don’t even want to talk about Stripe freakin’ melting to death at the end of the film. Look at this horror!!!! This is SO not a kid-friendly movie. Speilberg insists it isn’t a horror movie. I call B.S. It’s a horror-comedy is what it is. It definitely facilitated the PG-13 rating. I just wish it could have earned it after the fact as well.