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Sunday, December 24, 2023

2 ‘Gremlins’ Movies to Keep Your Holidays Scary and Merry [12 Days of Creepmas]

Bloody Disgusting’s 12 Days of Creepmas is nearly at an end, so it’s time to bring out the big guns in holiday horror. The 2nd Day of Creepmas brings a pair of gateway horror-comedies that will keep you busy from Christmas through New Year’s Eve.

When it comes to holiday horror, few can beat Joe Dante’s Gremlins. The charming 1984 classic decks the halls with holiday theming but it’s also unafraid to show its sharp pointy teeth. Dante’s sequel, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, takes a drastically different direction, but its high energy and anything goes attitude make a strong case for annual New Year’s viewing.

The 12 Days of Creepmas continues on Bloody Disgusting, this time with 2 Gremlins movies to keep your holidays going through the New Year.

Keep track of the 12 Days of Creepmas here.

Gremlins is a Definitive Holiday Horror Classic


Breaking the mandates of the Mogwai transforms the sleepy little town of Kingston Falls into a chaotic battleground against a horde of menacing Gremlins in Joe Dante’s holiday classic. Inventor Randall Peltzer (Hoyt Axton) gifts his son, Billy (Zach Galligan), a strange new pet for Christmas. The adorable little Mogwai, named Gizmo, comes with strict rules for care but no explanation on why they’re so important. Billy quickly realizes how much responsibility keeping Gizmo requires.

Billy’s young pal Pete (Corey Feldman) accidentally spills water onto Gizmo, causing equally adorable but more aggressive Mogwai to spawn from poor Gizmo’s back. The real trouble begins when the new brood chews through Billy’s alarm clock; he’s unaware that it’s past midnight when he feeds them. The well-fed creatures form hideous cocoons and transform from cute and cuddly to reptilian monsters.

Gremlins was initially conceived to be far more rooted in horror, though the project quickly evolved. During pre-production, executive producer Steven Spielberg suggested that the Mogwai be colored to resemble his dog, and that one of them wouldn’t turn evil; that Mogwai, Gizmo, would stay cute and be friends with Billy. As for the Gremlins themselves, it was up to creature creator Chris Walas (The FlyArachnophobia) to design then bring the pint-sized monsters to life on screen. Walas took the story into account, namely in how the Gremlins were a monstrous evolution of the Mogwai, and designed them more in line with the Mogwai’s anatomy. Giving them movement on camera, however, would become a trickier hurdle to clear considering just how many would appear in the frame for certain scenes. The final, crucial component came via Howie Mandel, who took cues from Gizmo’s appearance and gave him a cute, naïve voice to match while Frank Welker made Stripe sound even meaner than he looked.

Gremlins caroling

The now iconic monster design and effects add texture to an already charming holiday story with dark underpinnings. James Spencer‘s production design introduces a picturesque view of the holidays; Kingston Falls is decked top to bottom with snow, holiday decor, Christmas trees, and any possible iconography to evoke warm holiday feels. It’s a holiday horror movie that isn’t afraid to lean into its Christmas theming, and that works to elevate the more horror aspects.

Who could ever forget Phoebe Cates‘ chilling monologue, revealing Kate’s unsettling Christmas trauma? Or the pivotal scene that sees Billy’s mom Lynn (Frances Lee McCain) forced to fight for her life against multiple Gremlins at once? This key scene marks a turning point that plunges viewers into the deeper end of horror. Dante straddles the fine line between holiday cheer and horror that solidifies Gremlins as the pinnacle of gateway horror and requisite annual holiday viewing.

Between Spielberg, Dante, Walas, and the extensive crew and cast, Gremlins began as a horror concept and became a larger than life genre-bending film with humor, heart, and scares. Gizmo and Stripe, and the horde of mischievous little green monsters, immediately became a hot commodity at Christmas in 1984, and they’ve never left the pop culture collective since.

Ring in the New Year with Gremlins 2: The New Batch

Gremlins 2

Joe Dante’s follow-up to Gremlins isn’t technically a holiday movie, though a strong case can be made for Gremlins 2: The New Batch as a New Year’s gateway horror-comedy.

Released in 1990, Billy and Kate have relocated to New York City for grown-up jobs at the bustling Clamp Center, a state of the art Manhattan skyscraper owned by billionaire Daniel Clamp (John Glover). Unbeknownst to Billy, Clamp wants Gizmo for his research department. He finally gets the adorable Mogwai when Gizmo’s owner passes away and the building is destroyed by developers. Once in the Clamp tower, a water mishap starts the Gremlins troubles anew. Only this time the building’s unique resources unleash a variety of cartoonish terror.

SFX legend Rick Baker (An American Werewolf in London, The Wolfman) took over as creature designer, persuaded to take on the job thanks to the vast variety of monsters the story demanded. The New Batch lives up to its subtitle; the mischievous little monsters get shaped by the environment in which they destroy. It leads to bat gremlins, spider gremlins, salad bar gremlins, electric gremlins, horny lady gremlins, and so, so much more.

That Dante wanted to approach this sequel as a cartoon-like parody of the first film injects it with a raucous playfulness that lends the type of energy perfect for heading into the New Year. Scenes with the Clamp tower crowds in shopping and dining areas give glimpses of red and green presents that evoke, ever so briefly, the holidays. Gizmo’s self-improvement journey of embracing his inner Rambo to stand up to his green brethren feels akin to New Year’s resolutions. Then there’s the grand finale. The pint-sized baddies are gathered together in the building’s lobby, and confetti rains down as the little monsters break into a dazzling rendition of “New York, New York,” the horror-comedy equivalent of a Times Square ball drop at midnight. If you time your watch just right, this musical number could herald in 2024, right at the stroke of midnight.

Gremlins 2 The New Batch

Perhaps it’s the saturated holiday theming of its predecessor that contributes to this sequel’s New Year’s vibe. Either way, there’s plenty of charm on display and zany fun to keep the merriment going with this holiday double feature.

The post 2 ‘Gremlins’ Movies to Keep Your Holidays Scary and Merry [12 Days of Creepmas] appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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