Most of us grew up with these movies, and I’ll bet you probably feel like you have a good idea of what happened in these movies, and that you’re an expert on Gremlins. I can promise you.. you’re not. Unless these are your traditional Christmas movies (aside from Die Hard), I can pretty much guarantee that you should double, if not triple the level of entertainment you remembered getting from these films. Don’t worry, if you haven’t seen them in a while, we’re going to give you the chance to win them on Blu-Ray.

While the original Gremlins starts out as a cute story about an evil real estate lady talking smack about some kid’s dog, it evolves into so much more. Sure, you remember how adorable Gizmo was, and how cute it was to see him whistle along with a keyboard. Let me remind you what goes on in this film. A self-proclaimed inventor goes to Chinatown in NYC to sell some of his home-made wares, and comes across a cheeky little kid inviting him to his grandfather’s shop. The man goes to the shop to try to sell something to the old Chinese fellow, and ends up trying to bribe the old Chinese fellow into giving him a small creature from his store. Of course, the Chinese fellow refuses, and asks the man to leave. A couple minutes later, the cheeky little kid comes running out with a box, explaining the creature is a Mogwai, and asking the stranger to abide by three simple rules: 1 – Keep him away from bright lights. Sunlight could kill him, 2 – Don’t get him wet, and 3 – Don’t feed him after midnight. The stranger thanks the kid, and brings the creature home to his son, Billy, as a Christmas present. Billy adores the cute little creature, nicknamed Gizmo, and introduces him to a neighborhood kid. As is the case with most 80s films, this neighborhood kid is played by Cory Feldman, and does exactly the wrong thing which gets the story in motion: he spills a big cup of water on Gizmo. The water causes him to multiply, and several other little Mogwai spawn from him. Gizmo doesn’t seem to like this. In fact, he seems very worried about all his new little friends. Probably because they’re jerks. They make a mess, they’re loud, they’re obnoxious, and they trick their master into feeding them after midnight. This changes the cute, furry, playful beings into big, creepy, green, reptilian imps that just love going around causing mischief. This is what everyone remembers from this 1984 classic: a fun, slightly scary time with incredibly imaginative creatures.

Now let’s talk about what I recently had the pleasure of rediscovering while watching these gems. First of all, this is a horror movie. Sure, it has cute little creatures, a campy tone, and some morality in there, but for all intents and purposes, this is absolutely a horror story. When the obnoxious Mogwais hatch into Gremlins, they instantly start terrorizing a town. They start by killing a high school Science teacher, while another batch goes to mess with Billy’s mother. I should mention she just made some fabulous-looking gingerbread men. The mother goes to investigate a noise caused by the Gremlins upstairs, and comes back to her kitchen to see these little jerks just causing all kinds of problems with her cooking utensils and – this takes the cake – eating her fresh cookies. I’d be all in a huff over this too, but this woman goes for the biggest kitchen knife she can find. She then proceeds to fling one Gremlin into a microwave, making it explode, shove another in a blender, and then plunges that big ol’ knife right into a third. She meant business. Beyond the antics of a mother defending her fresh-baked cookies, we also get to see these little green imps crowd into a bar (where the main character’s love interest is hard at work), and start drinking, smoking, fighting, and pulling guns on one another. This was after the last lone Gremlin decided he wanted more company, and jumped in a pool of water to reproduce and take over the town. So now this sleepy little town has to fight off all these little monsters.  They do, in case you were wondering, and live to make a sequel.

 

The second one is even better. The best way to describe Gremlins 2 is pretty much to say it’s the Airplane of horror movies. This sequel takes place in New York City where Billy, our protagonist from the first movie, has moved with his girlfriend, Kate. Billy and Kate both work for an eccentric developer whose entire empire circles around being technologically advanced. To the point that tours are given for the building this company is based in, the Clamp Building, so that people can see such novelties as the voice-activated elevator. The Clamp Corporation, has many ambitious projects going, such as destroying a few buildings in Chinatown to make way for a revolutionary new structure, filming several television shows within the building, and even a genetic research lab. Going into this sequel, the campy humor just oozes from every single possible angle. After an introduction into Billy’s new job, we meet a workplace friend of his named Fred, a man dressed as a vampire that hosts a daytime horror review show. Fred alerts his buddy to the new genetics research lab in the building, and one thing leads to another until Billy goes snooping.  There he finds Gizmo, who he previously had to give back to the creature’s elderly Chinese owner. Gizmo had barely escaped building demolition after his master dies, and the Clamp Corporation destroys his old shop building. Some of the boys from the lab find Gizmo on the street, and bring him back to get a closer look at him.  Billy makes his way into the lab, cleverly named A Splice of Life, and rescues Gizmo, hiding him in his desk at work.  After being called to an immediate dinner meeting with his boss, Billy asks his girlfriend and coworker, Kate, to bring Gizmo home.  Kate is less than enthusiastic about this request, being that her only previous experience with the Mogwai was the hellish adventure of ridding her home town of Gremlins. While she procrastinates getting up to Billy’s desk to retrieve Gizmo, a clumsy janitor inadvertently manages to squirt water on Gizmo forcing him to reproduce. Antics ensue, and instead of taking home Gizmo, Kate takes home a very dim-witted, hyper Mogwai by accident.

At this point, there are various Mogwais running about the building, eating things, getting near water, and just generally making a mess. Once Billy comes home to see the wrong Mogwai, he quickly puts together the pieces, and goes down to the Clamp building. From here, things get ridiculous. We quickly get Gremlins running all over the place, affording many opportunities for added hilarity. In one of the taping rooms, we see a fellow reviewing the original Gremlins movie, mentioning how horrible he thinks it is, and how he can’t believe we’re now being subjected to a second one. He’s interrupted by two Gremlins popping up behind him, strangling him with a film strip. We also see another stab at the series when the movie seems to stop, and we’re cut to a theater full of people complaining that “they won’t let us watch the movie.” One lady states “the first one was bad enough!” to a theater manager who goes in to find none other than Hulk Hogan. The theater managers asks the Hulk to please get the Gremlins to let them resume the movie, mentioning that all they want to do is watch Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (a reference to their behavior in the first movie). Hulk Hogan verbally intimidates the Gremlins, and the movie magically keeps going. This kind of absolutely random, and wonderful humor is prevalent throughout the entire film.

One of the more fun parts of this follow-up is when the Gremlins get into the genetic research lab, and start drinking random formulas. One Gremlin gets his hands on a flask that just has a bat silhouette, and drinks the whole thing, turning himself into a Bat-Gremlin. This sets him up for several Batman jokes while the Bat-Gremlin bursts through a wall and into the skies of New York City. He manages to attack a man in the street who drags him down into a pit of wet concrete. The Bat-Gremlin is just barely able to fly away, covered in wet cement, and lands on an iconic church in downtown New York, hardening into a gargoyle.  Another Gremlin drinks from a flask with a brain on it, becoming the only intelligent Gremlin, able to speak articulately. Yet another Gremlin grabs a flask with male and female signs on it, becoming the only female Gremlin. During all of this, an entire army of Gremlins has descended on the Clamp building taking down various areas of the structure. Each little antic of theirs helps Billy convince the security crew in the building that there is, in fact, a very big problem, and they need to evacuate the area. Eventually the only people we assume are left in the building are Billy, Kate, an old man from their hometown, the eccentric developer, Mr. Clamp, and Billy’s immediate boss. We soon come to find that there are two more people there: Vampire Fred and an Asian tourist with a video camera, who are broadcasting the madness to the outside world the entire time. Through a few tricks, the crew gets the entire Gremlin population in the lobby of the building which can only end one way. A musical number. Here we get to see thousands of Gremlins break into “New York, New York” with the only articulate Gremlin singing like Frank Sinatra.

All in all, Gremlins 2 absolutely personifies the level of quality we’ve come to miss from movies of its time. The writing is hilarious and unexpected. The cast is wonderful, and the effects were top-notch for their day. And as of May 8th, you can even own both movies on Blu-Ray. Gotta love the future.

In fact.. let’s get back to that chance to win a Blu-Ray copy of these movies. We’ll be giving away one of each movies, Gremlins and Gremlins 2. So you have a chance to win one or the other here. All you have to do is tell me who your favorite Gremlin is.  I’ll get you started – mine was the one playing with the hand puppets in the first movie.

 

Leave a comment with your pick, and we will randomly draw two winners on Monday, May 21st!