31 Horror Films #3 Gremlins 1984 Dir. Joe Dante

Gremlins 1984 Dir. Joe Dante

Joe Dante cut his teeth editing trailers for Roger Corman’s American International Pictures before moving on to directing duties. In the 1980s, he shared space with Richard Donner, Stephen Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis as one of the important filmmakers of that decade. Known for bringing a dark and goofy sensibility to whatever subject he was working on, Dante uses several trademarks culled from the genre pictures of the 50s and 60s. Innocents in peril, trouble with bullies, hucksters, murderers, monsters and fantastical occurrences populate his films giving them a timeless feel. These hallmarks and sensibilities are never more present than in Dante’s film Gremlins.

Gremlins tells the story of Billy Peltzer and his family. Billy is a young man working as a bank teller, until he can make a career as an illustrator. Billy’s father, inventor Randy Peltzer, brings his son a gift from his business trip to San Francisco. This pet is nothing like anything anyone has ever seen before, and comes with some very specific rules: 1) Keep it out of the light 2) Don’t get it wet 3) Don’t feed it after midnight.

Of course things go horribly awry and from the adorable mogwai, Gizmo spawns hundreds of green, disgusting and anarchic gremlins, all of whom destroy and murder their way through the idyllic small town of Kingston Falls. Gremlins marries the 50s invasion picture with Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life with hilarious and terrifying results. When people think horror movies, they don’t often recall Gremlins, forgetting the films more harrowing moments. The scene between Billy’s mother and one murderous little creature alone together in the house, is tense and horrific, that should be enough to warrant a place on every horror list.

Gremlins is a cult classic, giving us a look at a Frank Capra world, invaded by scaly 80s monsters.

Watch the trailer HERE