Luke Thorne’s review published on Letterboxd:
Joe Dante directs this comedy horror in which a placid small town is brought to its knees by an infestation of small creatures with a vicious sense of humour. Starring Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates and Hoyt Axton.
The story concerns an implement salesman who is searching for a distinct gift for his son and spots one at a store in Chinatown. The retailer is unenthusiastic to sell him the ‘mogwai’ but the pet is sold to him.
However, the new owner is given the warning to on no occasion: depict him to bright light, water, or to give him food after midnight. But all three of these golden rules are unintentionally broken and the consequence is a massive group of gremlins that choose to destroy the town the day before Christmas.
Zach Galligan gives a good performance in his role as Billy Peltzer, a man who works in the local bank who manages to break the three golden rules that there were set though never meant to do it in the first place. Billy now knows that terror is going to happen. Galligan suits his role well and shows plenty of determination in trying to warn the residents that the gremlins are going to cause a lot of trouble.
Elsewhere, Phoebe Cates and Hoyt Axton both give decent performances as Kate and Randall. Kate is Billy’s girlfriend who spots the gremlins enjoying themselves in the local bar, while Randall is Billy’s grandad who gives the monster to him as a pet.
Corey Feldman, Dick Miller and Polly Holliday all give solid supporting performances in their respective roles as Pete, Murray and Ruby. Pete is Billy’s pal who accidentally does something to Gizmo (the pet who Billy has and is excellently voiced by comedian Howie Mandel), while Ruby is the owner of Barney, a dog who Ruby fears for his safety.
The direction from Dante is very good because he allows the facial expressions to be seen to a strong effect throughout, while also keeping a funny but sometimes-tense atmosphere happening as well.
The script is written to a decent standard by Chris Columbus as he makes the movie good to follow and allows lots of funny moments, particularly with those creatures. But even when the movie isn’t funny, you can still understand what is happening, because the narrative is definitely there from beginning to end.
The music, visual effects and makeup stand out best in terms of the technical aspects, because the music is enjoyable to listen to’ the visual effects are dazzling to view whenever they appear; the makeup is done to a very impressive effect.
The success of Gremlins (which is set at Christmas time) led to a sequel being done six years later, though that isn’t as enjoyable, perhaps due to its lighter tone.
Who knew that Gremlins could sit down and enjoy the Disney animated classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)?!
Overall, Gremlins is a very enjoyable comedy-horror, thanks to the good performances, direction, script and mixed atmosphere. It is perhaps the best film Joe Dante has done as director.