‘Tis may be the season for romantic comedies set in idyllic English cottages or whimsical tales of elves lost in New York, but if you’re in the mood for something a little more gory, we’ve got your back.
We guide you through 14 days of Christmas Horror. This time, we get cheeky with a classic 80’s film, Gremlins.
“But the most important rule, the rule you can never forget, no matter how much he cries, no matter how much he begs, never feed him after midnight.”
Those words have now become iconic. We all know you should not feed a Mogwai after midnight, or you risk turning them into dangerous, rowdy little demons (Mogwai does indeed mean demon in Cantonese).
Directed by Joe Dante and written by Chris Columbus, Gremlins has become a Christmas horror classic. It’s also the film we have to thank for the PG-13 rating in the US; it was Steven Spielberg who suggested the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) changed its system after Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom received complaints from audiences for the more violent scenes.
Sure, no one wants to traumatise kids, but the brilliance of Gremlins lies within its approach to these cute and cuddly creatures turned into literal demons. Gremlins is clearly aimed at a younger audience; the Mogwai are adorable, fluffy and, let’s be honest, designed to be every kid’s new favourite toy.
Turning them into ugly, violent gremlins and having them wreck havoc on the town and its people, including killing several of them, is exactly what makes Gremlins exciting. There is a potent argument to be made that kids are also allowed to feel scared and thrilled in a safe way and a safe environment.
Just as adults enjoy a frightful film (kind of the whole point of this festive series of articles), so can younger viewers and that’s exactly what Dante and Columbus are offering with Gremlins. Festive frights and spectacle that cuts through the violent with a wicked sense of humour.
The film’s ending is surprisingly gruesome as the leader of the evil gremlins, Stripe, meets his maker after being exposed to sunlight. Planning on multiplying himself once again by plunging into the water fountain, Stripe begins to form nasty boils on his back, where a new gremlin would eventually pop out of.
But once Gizmo, the adorable, inherently good Mogwai, pulls a curtain up, flooding the room with sunlight, Stripe begins to melt. He’s oozing gloopy, gooey slime, disintegrating in front of our eyes. It’s disgusting, but oh, so much fun to watch and cheer on with. Gremlins remains a steady Christmas classic because it provides scares for the whole family. It may very well have been your gateway to the more extreme Christmas horrors, which we will continue to explore here at whynow.