Gremlins (1984) - Rotten Tomatoes


Gremlins (1984)



Critic Consensus: Whether you choose to see it as a statement on consumer culture or simply a special effects-heavy popcorn flick, Gremlins is a minor classic.

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Movie Info

"Don't expose him to bright light. Don't ever get him wet. And don't ever, ever feed him after midnight." This sage advice is ignored midway through Gremlins, with devastating results. This comic Joe Dante effort is set in a Norman Rockwell-esque small town at Christmastime. Seeking a unique gift for his son an erstwhile inventor (Hoyt Axton) purchases a cute, fuzzy little "Mogwai" from a Chinatown shopkeeper's (Keye Luke) grandson (John Louie), who dispenses the above-mentioned warning before closing the deal. Meanwhile, young bank clerk Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan) must suffer such antagonists as rich-bitch Mrs. Deagle (Polly Holliday) and priggish Gerald (Judge Reinhold) while pursuing his romance with Kate (Phoebe Cates). These and a variety of other plot strands are tied together when the lovable mogwai (named Gizmo) is exposed to bright light and gotten wet. In short order, the town is invaded by nasty, predatory Gremlins, who lay waste to everything in sight as Billy and Kate try to contain the destruction. Like most of Joe Dante's works, Gremlins is chock-full of significant cameo appearances: in this instance, such pop-culture icons as Dick Miller, Jackie Joseph, Chuck Jones, Scott Brady, Harry Carey Jr., Steven Spielberg (the film's executive producer) and even Robby the Robot all show up briefly on screen. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Polly Holliday
as Mrs. Deagle
Scott Brady
as Sheriff
Keye Luke
as Grandfather
John Louie
as Chinese Boy
Dick Miller
as Mr. Futterman
Jackie Joseph
as Mrs. Futterman
Harry Carey Jr.
as Mr. Anderson
Don Steele
as Rockin' Ricky Rialto
Arnie Moore
as Pete's Father
James MacKrell
as Lew Landers
Belinda Balaski
as Mrs. Harris
Jonathan Banks
as Deputy Brent
Edward Andrews
as Mr. Corben
Chuck Jones
as Mr. Jones
Jim McKrell
as Lew Landers
Susan Burgess
as Little Girl
Donald Elson
as Man on Street
Daniel Llewelyn
as Hungry Child
Nicky Katt
as School Children
Lois Foraker
as Bank Teller
Nick Katt
as School Child
Tracy Wells
as School Child
John C. Becher
as Dr. Molinaro
Gwen Willson
as Mrs. Molinaro
Fred Newman
as Special Vocal Effects
Mark Dodson
as Special Vocal Effects
Michael Winslow
as Special Vocal Effects
Peter Cullen
as Special Vocal Effects
Michael Sheehan
as Special Vocal Effects
Bob Holt
as Special Vocal Effects
Steven Spielberg
as Man in Electric Wheelchair (uncredited)
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Critic Reviews for Gremlins

All Critics (75) | Top Critics (15)

It is a wacky, satirical spectacle of chaos.

December 6, 2019 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

A wildly original roller-coaster ride of hilarious mischief.

December 6, 2013 | Full Review…

Here's the season's most delicious and unexpected surprise. Despite the horror-flick title, Gremlins is a movie of wicked wit and startling invention, and it has a heart that's at least a match for the special effects.

December 6, 2013

A horror-comedy about cute little Christmas toy/pets who turn into murderous monsters wreaking havoc on a Norman Rockwellian town.

December 4, 2013 | Rating: 3.5/4

Brilliantly potent social critique of Reagan-era fear-mongering and consumerism.

December 6, 2012 | Rating: 4/5

The 1984 creature feature in which a Capra-esque idyll is besieged by ravening beasties.

December 6, 2012 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Gremlins

I think I appreciate this movie as an adult more than I ever did as a child. (Is it even truly a kids film?! Some of it is pretty scary for a child). Though the special effects don't quite hold up and the gremlins are a bit fake looking, it's actually not bad for an 80's movie. And for a so called kids movie, it is a masterpiece. And it's festive, so a perfect December watch (well, my twisted idea of a xmas movie!). Good story to it and quite dark and compelling. Good cast too, Phoebe Cates and Zach Galligan are great.

Nicki Marie
Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer

Probably one of the first horror comedies supposedly for all the family. Released back in 84 at a time when there was some incredibly stiff competition at the box office, namely 'Ghostbusters'. The film opens at Christmas in a typical small all American apple pie town blanketed under a layer of snow. My first thoughts when seeing this again was how similar this town square looked to the town square of Hill Valley in 'Back to the Future'. Straight away you can't help but love the atmosphere this film is setting, the opening credits play out to Darlene Love's popular 1963 song 'Christmas', everything looks so cozy and charming as kids play in the snow. All this is of course after the more Spielbergian opening of how little 'Gizmo' gets discovered in Chinatown, a very 'Indiana-esque' look and feel about that whole sequence, you can tell its an Amblin production. Isn't that little Chinese boy wearing the same baseball hat as 'Short Round' from 'Temple of Doom'? or the same look perhaps?. Don't miss the Indiana Jones billboard nod at the start either. I think the one thing that always stuck with me (and everyone else I'm sure) was the fact this film was actually pretty scary and dark. Considering it was a young persons film and advertised as just that it was edgy, I remember always hiding behind a cushion when watching this. The whole concept of little green monsters hiding under your bed or in the clothes cupboard is pretty terrifying for kids, its the stuff of bedtime legend, so this film really hit home in so many aspects at the time. What still impresses today are the special effects, the cute lill Giz puppet is clearly just a puppet or advanced Muppet but geez it still looks good!. His huge round eyes, little snout, big floppy ears and that adorable little chirping voice of his. I don't think anyone can deny that little tune Giz whistles or hums is almost as iconic as the electronic sound from 'Close Encounters'...and downright lovable. But its the facial expressions we see on close ups that really impress me to this day, the way he rolls his eyes in loathing or looks frightened, the little guy still genuinely looks quite real. 'bright light! bright light!' The same can also be said for the evil Gremlins and their reptilian appearance. These guys really do look scary and nasty, you know you wouldn't wanna get bitten by one of these guys. I also love how dated this film is, how un-PC it is. The Gremlins are clearly show smoking virtually all the time! drinking booze, getting drunk, smashing everything and even using lethal weapons including guns!. Can you imagine a kids film in this day and age showing stuff like that lol! this film could almost be seen as advocating yobbish behaviour and saying drinking, smoking and trashing property is fun. It really is quite the eye opener when you see some of the things these Gremlins get up to, you half expect to see them grunting away whilst mating on a table. Never really understood how Mogwai seem to reproduce as they do, never explained. The idea is a bit silly really, just like the three rules. Water makes them reproduce, but why? how? from their back?? how do they drink or do they? surely this would be hard to avoid, plus wouldn't he be smelly and disgusting with all that fur?. They can't eat after midnight...that doesn't make much sense because that means he can never really eat doesn't it?. Oh and is Gizmo the only Mogwai left? you'd think there would be lots. The film does has many levels or stages I think. The whole tranquil little snow capped town with all the townsfolk knowing each other does homage 'Its a Wonderful Life', they don't hide this though as its shown in the film. The grumpy and somewhat sadistic 'Mrs Deagle' is clearly a little homage to 'The Wizard of Oz' and the wicked witch character, she even says the same lines at one point. At some points the film is very humorous with silly Gremlin slapstick and tomfoolery, visual gags and overall light-hearted laughs that kids would enjoy. On the same note there are also many more points in the film where it does really get close to the bone. You get a quick hint of this early on when the professor gets killed or half eaten which is a tad unnerving. The tone shifts from one end of the scale to the other quite dramatically, it can be a bit mind boggling. A good small example would be when the Gremlins are all in the bar drinking and smoking (its all good kids). There is much craziness going on which can be seen as light comedy but all of a sudden 'Stripe' whips out a gun and shoots a fellow Gremlin in the face!. This causes much laughter all round from the little critters but it does kinda get you thinking doesn't it, hey kids its fun to shoot people in the face haha no consequences accept for hilarity and drinks all round!. The same could be said for the Gremlins attack on Peltzer's mum in the kitchen. I think this is the first really graphic attack sequence in the film, some quite nasty justice for the little terrors. The infamous microwave sequence, head in a blender, stabbed to death with a big knife and all rounded off with a decapitation into the fireplace!. The whole finale against Stripe is very dark too as this Gremlin is trying to kill 'Peltzer' is some pretty gruesome ways, no holding back here kids, chainsaw to the face!!. I'm not even mentioned the depressing tale spoken by Cates character of why she hates Xmas, pretty bleak stuff right there. Then of course there's the excellent melting sequence of Stripe as he meets his demise right at the end. Much like the melting moments in 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' that bit always had me half looking back in the day, twas cool but scary, I guess that's why us kids liked it back then. The sound effects made that scene so much more disgusting with all the bubbling and squelching, loved the dogs reaction too, that dog really jumped on many occasion in the film hehe poor fella. Its corny and cliche but they don't make kids films like this anymore. I guess that could be a good thing because kids these days are exposed to so much stuff, but I suppose you could argue they wouldn't find it scary because they are more immune. Back in the day times were simpler and we didn't have all the tech stuff you have now so films like this really blew your mind and I think we enjoyed them more because of it. I think films like this felt more special because they looked real and gave you something you wouldn't normally see, no internet or CGI back then kids. I always did like Hoyt Axton's (loved his performance and character) last few words in this film...'Well, that's the story. So if your air conditioner goes on the fritz or your washing machine blows up or your video recorder conks out; before you call the repairman turn on all the lights, check all the closets and cupboards, look under all the beds, 'cause you never can tell there just might be a gremlin in your house'. The thing is back then when you were a kid, you DID check in your clothes cupboard and under your bed before going to bed.

Phil Hubbs
Phil Hubbs

Super Reviewer


My foray into 80s Horror/Comedy education begins here. Gizmo is super cute, the explicit scenes of gremlin-cide are campy and hilarious, and I finally know the rules of Mogwai maintenance, as referenced in much pop culture nostalgia. I didn't expect so much violence, nor did I expect the main characters to be adults. The movie could have felt more real this way, but it didn't, and I think that may be due to the flat villains. Mean Mrs. Deagle is so mean that it doesn't MEAN anything. She has no raison d'etre, and nor do the gremlins. They just cause trouble.

Alice Shen
Alice Shen

Super Reviewer

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