Arlecchino Cinema > 21:30


Joe Dante
Introduced by

Joe Dante


Saturday 01/07/2023


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Is it a paradox that Gremlins… was widely understood as the simultaneous triumph of Spielbergism and its antithesis, and that this double apprehension was instantaneous?
“I make the illogical logical.” So claims Rand Peltzer (Hoyt Axton), the feck less inventor sales mandad, a Bizarro World Thomas Edison, who, following his nose into a Chinatown novelty store, discovers the original cute and cuddly Keaneeyed Mogwai, soon to be known as Gizmo. Really, the Peltzer motto is meant to be read in reverse. If anything, his timesaving inventions turn straight forward notions into utter nonsense just as Joe Dante, mutatis mutandis, may be considered the gremlin that put the kibosh on the (not yet named Dream Works) Spielberg machine…
Dante creates an ambiance of cozy, all American wholesomeness purely for the fun of staging an adolescent or – appropriate to the post E.T. world – an infantile desecration. Gremlins’ key image has one of its loathsome monsters blowing its snout on the living room drapes. There’s something primal going on. Even during the movie’s blatantly innocent first third, Dante uses an exploding juice squeezer to stage an excremental attack on Mom’s spotless kitchen; later, Mom herself (Frances Lee McCain) is compelled to employ assorted kitchen appliances as instruments of (extremely messy) pest control.
No less than Red Dawn or Ghost busters, Gremlins is a nightmare of enemy invasion. The xenophobic notion of the infernal critters as foreigners is articulated throughout the movie (mainly by a guy obsessed with the decline of the U.S. automobile industry), but the gremlins’ gleeful destruction is against interpretation and beyond good and evil…
A condensed version  of  The  Movie Orgy, Gremlins is, at any given moment, merging The Wizard of Oz (1939) and The Thing from Another World (1951), E.T. (1982) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) and Forbidden Planet (1956), Snow White and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), or Alien (1979) and “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” sequence from Fantasia (1940) to name only those films Dante explicitly acknowledges.

J. Hoberman, The Gremlins Franchise: Standing Spielberg on His Head, in Joe Dante, edited by Nil Baskar and Gabe Klinger, Österreichisches Filmmuseum/Synema, Wien 2014

Cast and Credits

Scen.: Chris Columbus. F.: John Hora. M.: Tina Hirsch. Scgf.: James H. Spencer. Mus.: Jerry Goldsmith. Int.: Zach Galligan (Billy Peltzer), Phoebe Cates (Kate Beringer), Hoyt Axton (Rand Peltzer), Polly Holliday (signora Deagle), Frances Lee McCain (Lynn Peltzer), Judge Reinhold (Gerald), Dick Miller (Murray Futterman), Glynn Turman (Roy Hanson), Keye Luke (signor Wing), Scott Brady (sceriffo Frank). Prod.: Michael Finnell per Amblin Entertainment, Warner Bros. DCP. D.: 106’. Col.