top of page

Gremlins Review (Christmas Special)

This is it, my final review of Christmas movies this year. While something came in between last week that hindered me from going to watch Krampus, I picked one of my favourite Christmas-horror flicks.

Genre: Christmas/Comedy/Horror

Director: Joe Dante

Cast: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, Dick Miller, Corey Feldman & Keye Luke.

Run Time: 106 min.

US Release: 08 June 1984

UK Release: 07 December 1984

German Release: 26 October 1984

Welcome back to my review special of favourite Christmas movies. I am sorry for this belated analysis, which I was supposed to uploaded last Sunday, but due to unforeseen circumstances I was forced to leave it until later and change the film I wanted to review. Originally I planned to write about Krampus, but since I was unable to go to catch a screening time, I will focus on one of my favourite Christmas horror-comedies: Gremlins!

Gremlins holds a special spot in my heart; not only was I immediately taken by the cute, little and furry character called Gizmo, but this was also the first “horror” movie I was allowed to watch at a young age. I remember being quite terrified after watching it the first time.

Apart from being a horror-satire, Gremlins also incorporates a lot of fairy-tale like and mystical elements in its story. The film was given mostly positive reviews by other film critics and is considered by many to be one of the best films of 1984. It also was criticised though for it’s violent nature.


The story of Gremlins revolves around Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan) a teenager living at home with his parents, in the small town of Kingston Falls. The town is hit by economic depression and Billy needs to support his family, by working as a teller in a bank.

Rand Peltzer (Hoyt Axton), Billy’s father, is an unsuccessful inventor who just came back from a trip to New York with a special Christmas gift for his son, revealed to be a fury, big eyed, bipedal creature known as a mogwai. Rand explains to Billy that there are three rules he needs to uphold to keep the mogwai. (1) Keep the mogwai away from bright light. (2) Never get him wet. (3) Never feed him after midnight, no matter how much he begs.

Billy manages to follow those rules pretty well, until an accident gets Gizmo (the name Billy gave the mogwai) wet and reacts with Gizmo by produces five more mogwais. These five though are different to the original fury delight. They are treacherous, nasty and trick Billy into giving them food after midnight and with that the real danger starts.

This movie is special in many ways. For one, it is not the cuddly and warm winter fairy-tale most Christmas films are, but instead contrasts the typical small-town Christmas setting with some gruesome violence and very dark humour. This is a parody not only of the classic horror movie, but also mocks the model X-mas picture.

Gremlins might look at first like a horror B-movie, but underneath its “gore” and violence it has a lot more to offer. The story is filled with allegories of fairy tales and mythology. For instance the three rules that are never to be broken could be straight up of any Grimm story. Gizmo and the Gremlins themselves are mythological creatures, made up by WWII Royal Air Force pilots to explain inexplicable mechanical issues with their aircraft.

As for characters, Gremlins has just a few that are of interest or show a certain development throughout the film’s length. Two of these are Billy and Kate, who’s romantic relationship blossoms in the midst of the small town chaos created by the Gremlins. While Billy seemed to be an insecure and shy person by the beginning of this Christmas flick, he manages to step up and take charge against the Gremlins at the end.

Gizmo was my favourite character, not only because he is cute, kind and smart but because he was a very important part of this movie. Like Billy, he is shy and insecure when it comes to his character along the first two acts of the film. It is when he sees his new owner in trouble that he finds the strength to go against his former bullies.

As far as cinematography goes, Gremlins is a well-shot movie but nothing out of the ordinary. It did use a lot of frames that visually mocked other movies such as Indiana Jones, It’s a Wonderful Life and even Walt Disney’s Snow White. It also had a good blend of white shot’s and close-ups, the later which were specifically used for shock or gore scenes; such as the microwave site.

One of the most iconic parts of this movie is its unforgettable, funky and very upbeat theme song. It pretty much set the audience up for what to expect in this very unusual Christmas flick.

Verdict: Gremlins is a different but very enjoyable film, especially around the time of Christmas. It features one of the cutest creatures ever created in the world of cinema, parodies a lot horror and X-mas movie clichés and has a strong story with creepy little villains. I wouldn’t recommend watching this movie with small children, but it is a nice picture to enjoy with the family or as a Christmas date. Gremlins obtain an 8 out of 10.

So, this movie concludes my Christmas special. If you are interested in the other films I reviewed, here are the links: Home Alone, Bad Santa, and TheNightmare Before Christmas. Which of these films do you enjoy watching most during the holiday season? Let me know by leaving a comment below. Thank you for reading and I wish you all a merry Christmas!

bottom of page