Gremlins ★★★★

I have to admit to manipulating my letters game so that I could try and get a couple of Christmas films watched today, most particularly this one as I was eager to show it to my eldest daughter. Nothing about that in the rules!

Of course, it's still splendid stuff - beautifully paced with a lovely nod to lots of old films as you would expect from Joe Dante, more or less lacking in sentimentalism, and mixing comedy and horror together far more effectively than most. I do often forget that it's a relatively lightweight cast for a film of this type and that most of the interesting performers are in support roles or extended cameos.

So you get Jonathan Banks in one of his rare non-villainous roles as a doubting copper who craps himself when he discovers that Zach Galligan isn't lying about what is wrecking their town. Dick Miller growls his way through his role like few others can and, importantly, sets himself up for a far larger role in the sequel - a role that become one of the biggest of his career, as it turned out. You also get Judge Reinhold as a slimy superior of Galligan and Phoebe Cates the film before he would hit the big time thanks to his turn in Beverly Hills Cop. But it is still lacking in major names.

In some ways, though, that works out best for this film. The old 1950s monster movies and creature features rarely had heavyweight casts and that was almost always for the best as you didn't have distractions from the action of anyone trying to act seriously. It's also worked best in many of the more recent monster movies as well. And it definitely works here.

I probably didn't enjoy it quite as much as I did when I was a kid, and that's the funny thing about Gremlins. It's probably not quite suitable for a six year old (she loved it, mind you!) and yet when you get to an age where it is notionally more suitable for you, it's not quite as enjoyable. It's still tremendously so, having said that.

I think I actually prefer the sequel, for the record. I can post that on Christmas Day without as much fear of reprisals because everyone is busy getting drunk or sleeping off a mountain of turkey. Heh, somebody stop me.

Steve G liked these reviews