:47 “It all starts in Chinatown...”
2:30 I know it’s 1984 and this dad’s whole schtick is that he’s the worst inventor ever but honestly, would you ever buy something that looks as boxy and awkwardly ugly as the ‘Bathroom Buddy’ he’s hawking? While we’re on the topic, wouldn’t you assume something called the ‘Bathroom Buddy’ does... I don’t know, other things?
4:18 The grandfather who runs the shop won’t sell the Mogwai because he can readily identify that this dad is about as responsible as a five year old.
5:08 ‘Keep him out of the light. Keep him away from water. Most important: don’t feed him after midnight.’ Those are the instructions that comes with the mysterious singing creature in the box from the basement shop in Chinatown. Seems legit. This dad doesn’t have a single question after that? Like “what the hell is this thing?” or “what happens if I do get him wet?” or... I don’t know, “is this thing dangerous?”
10:08 Puffy sleeves! During my youth I was heavily consumed by the desire for puffy sleeves on dresses after reading ‘Anne of Green Gables’. I assume that motivated Phoebe Cates too.
12:10 This nasty woman is cartoonishly evil. If the Grinch and the Wicked Witch of the West had a horrible love child it would be this woman. Also, what IS that dog doing in a bank?
15:52 Every invention in the family’s house is like a living Tom and Jerry cartoon.
18:20 ERMAGERD GIZMO IS SO FREAKING CUTE!
20:50 Basically Gizmo would be happiest living in the CSI lab. He hates bright light so their regulation moody blue lighting would be the ideal environment for a Mogwai. Spinoff! CBS, call me.
23:10 Tiny Corey Feldman!
23:25 “You know, you should just buy orange juice in cartons. It’s a lot easier.” Corey Feldman speaks the truth.
26:12 A tiny splash of water jettisons furballs that instantly unfurl into new Mogwai. That doesn’t seem alarming? No? We’re just going to roll with it?
29:15 Five rowdy new undefined creatures sprang unbidden from water on Gizmo’s back and all the dad can say is “I bet every kid in America would want one”. The American Dream, folks! Everyone deserves a get rich quick scheme of their own.
30:22 Barney! Poor dog. Everybody's out to get this dog.
31:50 Yes, bring the Mogwai to your school science teacher to analyze. Definitely. No disrespect intended. (NO DISRESPECT TO BEN AFFLECK.) Science teachers are awesome but a previously unrecorded species that procreates spontaneously and can’t abide light might be a little out of their depth, no?
36:39 This kid Billy is a total dork. But he’s quite endearing too. He’s one of those curly-headed gee-shucks kind of good guy dorks. Phoebe Cates is a total Betty. (Clueless reference.) He’ll win her by being decent, you see, and not a relentless douchenozzle like Judge Reinhold’s character.
37:54 The science teacher is this movie's red shirt. I’m calling it now.
41:30 Those look like H. R. Giger pods. And since Alien came out in 1979 I think there should be a lot more panic setting in at the sight of them. Nothing good comes out of industrial-looking alien pods.
44:36 Oh man! Do kids these days even get films on projector reels in class? Do kids these days even know what a reel-to-reel projector is? They probably have wall-sized HD panels that link by bluetooth to the teacher’s iPhone now. Sad. The clicking of the projector and the inability of the screen to ever reliably either stay down or go up is an intrinsic part of my school memories.
47:12 Gizmo looks like he’s cowering in Hell’s disco. Random factoid: did you know Howie Mandel is the voice of Gizmo?
49:00 Science teacher just lost an arm. For the sake of the children they didn’t show it.
49:39 The new gremlins are vicious. One of them killed the science teacher (called it!) and is eating glass.
52:44 And this is why ‘Do You Hear What I Hear’ is the creepiest Christmas song ever.
53:48 If they remade Gremlins today they’d probably cast Carrie Underwood as the mom. Hollywood. *eye roll* And she’d be much screamier.
54:20 The new gremlins look very much like lizards. Lizard-beasts with Gizmo ears.
54:41 Go mom! Gremlins 0 Mom 1.
55:10 This mom is badass. She just stabbed a gremlin to death.
55:33 Gremlins explode in the microwave just like potatoes. But in a much gorier fashion. Upon reflection, this isn’t really a kids movie is it?
57:36 “Gremlin roasting in an open fire / gremlin nipping at your nose / tiny town with it’s folks all a-bed / and all unaware of alien foes / everybody knows / a gremlin and some midnight snacks / combine to make a horrid beast / although you’ve been warned not to spray them with water / you’ll do it and you’ll die in your sleep”
57:44 See, I always thought the leader of the evil gremlins was called ‘Spike’ but he’s actually called ‘Stripe’. Which... okay, I get it. He’s got a mohawk stripe on his head but Spike is cooler. I can’t reconcile it.
1:00:43 And Stripe escaped, broke into the community rec centre, and dove into the pool. The entire thing is now re-enacting a scene from ‘Macbeth’. “Double double toil and trouble / fire burn and cauldron bubble...”
1:02:40 Gremlin horde advancing at 12:00! Red alert!
1:05:12 It’s a festive montage of gremlins marauding through the town and offing the inhabitants in gruesome fashion set to a jaunty synthesizer score.
1:09:40 Death by staircase-chair ejection? I appreciate the creativity of these deaths. I would love to see CSI tackle this town the day after this movie takes place. That would be some epic analysis.
1:13:15 Poor Phoebe Cates is alone at the town tavern serving a bunch of drunk gremlins. They’re riding the ceiling fan, drinking straight from the bar taps, flashing her, smoking inside, playing poker... wait, how is this different from every night at a bar?
1:14:50 Is this some misguided 80s commentary on the stereotyping of street or prison culture? Stripe has claimed one of his own as his bitch and shoots any gremlin that challenges his authority in the face.
1:16:40 Phoebe Cates has figured out that bright light injures the gremlins so she’s escaping the bar by blinding them with flashes from a Polaroid camera. (Kids, ask your parents what a Polaroid is. It’s like Instagram but on paper, sort of.) The women in this movie are surprisingly great. They’re ballsy and capable.
1:19:05 This is the most hilarious tragic backstory ever written. I want to believe it’s intentionally comedic in it’s macabre tragedy but I worry that it’s unintentional. Either way I get inappropriate giggles every time she tells it. Coles Notes version: her dad died Christmas Eve after dressing up as Santa after slipping and breaking his neck climbing into the chimney of their house with an armful of presents. Police found him stuffed in the chimney after she and her mom tried to light a fire and got smoked out.
1:23:25 Every gremlin except Gizmo, dressed in sassy little outfits and/or Christmas tinsel, is in the local cineplex watching Snow White and singing merrily along to the dwarves’ ‘Heigh Ho’. This is one of the weirdest pop culture mashups committed to film. Is this Spielberg’s way of throwing shade at Snow White? Or is this the ultimate tribute? Like beauty or music soothing the savage beast: saying Snow White is the ultimate classic that even depraved gremlins can’t resist?
1:27:18 Billy and Phoebe Cates blew up the theatre and every gremlin except Stripe. That little guy has all the luck. He’s invincible. And he’s now hiding out in a mall.
1:31:56 The fountain in the garden centre has started up. Of course.
1:32:25 Where exactly did Stripe find a miniature crossbow? He’s like a tiny reptilian Joffrey Baratheon with that thing.
1:33:28 I love it so much that Gizmo commandeers a pink Barbie Corvette to hunt down Stripe in.
1:36:35 Gizmo completely saves the day in that little Barbie car. As water to the Wicked Witch, so is bright light to a gremlin.
1:37:05 Stripe dissolves in a truly disgusting fashion.
1:39:08 The grandfather from Chinatown has returned, dramatically. He knew the dad was no good and irresponsible from the get-go. The dad’s inability to properly care for the Mogwai is a metaphor, in his mind, for the rape and pillage of nature at the hands of western society. A moment of profound metaphor in an otherwise insane (but classic!) movie.
1:42:30 The last words strike a note of paranoia about failing electrical equipment in your home being a sign of gremlins.
1:43:28 Truly this manic synthesizer score is a thing of majestic wonder.
- Corinne Simpson