Great Christmas Scenes… Gremlins

gremlinsDon’t get them wet. Don’t feed them after midnight. And never, ever put them in the microwave. Unless they have just thrown gingerbread men at you.

A while ago on RvR, Ross McD tried to argue that horror and comedy can’t mix, that the pair are reluctant bedfellows. He has obviously not watched Gremlins recently. Joe Dante’s terrific 1984 film is that rare beast – a movie that entertained you when you were a kid that still retains its brilliance when you watch it 25 years later. This scene, in which Lynn Peltzer (Frances Lee McCain) does battle with the nasty little creatures in her home, contains all the elements that make Gremlins a classic.

The sound of Johnny Mathis singing quite a creepy Christmas song soon gives way to Jerry Goldsmith’s spine-tingling score, as Mrs Peltzer realises that there is a really foul smell coming from her kitchen. The genius of Gremlins is that it scares you while making you chuckle. This is the first time in the movie we get a good view of what Mogwais look like after they’ve had late-night chicken, and they are pretty frightening. There is, however, great comedy to be had from mutilating them with various home appliances.

There are so many great touches here: the shadow of the Gremlin on the wall, the headless gingerbread man and the neat slasher movie reversal that has us fearing for Mrs Peltzer – even though she is the one stalking the house armed with a knife.

In the first draft of Chris Columbus’s script, this scene was much darker. Mrs Peltzer was decapitated by a Gremlin and her head rolls down the stairs to greet her son Billy when he arrives on the scene. But the filmmakers eventually decided not to turn Gremlins into an all-out horror fest. Despite the slight lightening in tone to make it a PG movie, the microwave shot in this scene proved crucial (along with the dark material in Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom) in persuading US censors that a new certificate was needed, leading to the creation of the PG-13 rating.

McCain’s performance is just terrific, her sweaty brow and her steely glare conveying the perfect combination of fear and defiance. Her cry of ‘Get out of my kitchen!’ is up there with Harrison Ford’s ‘Get off my plane!’ You can’t help but cheer her on as she wipes out the green meanies. And who would have thought someone called McCain could be so handy with a microwave?



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5 Responses to “Great Christmas Scenes… Gremlins”

  1. Horror and comedy don’t mix! Has Ross McD seen An American Werewolf In London – greatest horror comedy of all time? 🙂

    I agree that to make horror and comedy work harmoniously together is a tough task but I think the genre as a whole gets a bad reputation because it’s easy to look down upon it as trashy, throwaway, low-budget, badly acted, cheaply made etc. I recently enjoyed the British film The Cottage which mixed horror and comedy quite well, and Dog Soldiers (although not necessarily a horror-comedy) worked well with its funny asides. I’d obviously recommend the above film, as well as Dan O’Bannon’s The Return Of The Living Dead. Evil Dead 2, Fright Night, Re-Animator, The Frighteners, Beetlejuice, Bubba Ho-Tep, and Tremors as other good examples.

    I’ve always thought Gremlins was an excellent film. Loved it as a kid. The sequel is just as good.

  2. The microwave is classic, but I kinda dig Columbus’ original idea for the scene. That’s some crazy s**t! Someday…

  3. heh heh I forgot how cute the evil gremlins are!
    ‘It’s a different film, it’s a very different film! It’s a different shark!’

  4. Coffeecrimson Says:

    My favorite scene was in the movie theater when they were singing with the Snow White film. Imagine…these dangerous, psychotic creatures singing “Hi Ho.”

  5. Las galletas se llanaron de pupu y tripas de gremlin

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