Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Movies For When You Can't Stand To Watch Anymore Christmas Movies #3 Gremlins

What with all the commercialism, annoying relatives, over eager neighbors and people telling you you’re going to hell, I bet there are times when you wish you could just take a flamethrower to the whole thing. Well don’t dream it be it. For anyone who ever felt a bit Scrooge like around the holidays, Gremlins in which a pack of the titular demons run around dismantling a town brimming with Christmas cheer, should feel cathartic.

The product of a cute little creature voiced by Howie Mandel, who come alive and wreck havoc once the specific rules for care and feeding for it are disregarded, thus proving that Howie Mandel is the source of all evil. Something I’ve been trying to tell you for years. Gremlins started out as a straight up horror movie, but Spielberg deciding he didn’t want another nasty movie staining his reputation as a family filmmaker so soon after Indiana Jones and The Temple Of Doom (AKA the one that’s just as silly as Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull) passed duties onto Joe Dante in what turned out to be a stroke of genius. Dante’s best films feel like a Mad Magazine parody of themselves brought to life and I've written about my affection for his films before.

Everything exaggerated, there’s a rude gag in every corner of the frame. Dante’s dedication to cramming as much mischief into his movies as humanly possible has made him one of my favorite filmmakers and the livewire energy he brings to the film, first by building up a perfect Capra town (complete with its own Mrs. Potter whose dispatching is one of the films funniest gags) and then by burning it down, makes for a great watch. Gremlins is one of the few eighties movies that holds up on more then a nostalgic basis, partially because of the conscience aping of the forties in its Christmas scenes, and fifties in its sci fi conventions and partly because of Dante’s quick but never frantic style Gremlin’s retains a surprisingly timeless feel and never becomes just another game of “spot the mullet”. And its funny and surprisingly gruesome to boot, kind of like a kids version of Evil Dead. The perfect film for those days you can't help but feel Christmas would be improved by a bunch of rampaging demon spawn.

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