With so many different entertainment options out there for your children, we at PopcornBiz thought we'd take a moment each week to dissect one piece of family entertainment strictly from a parent's perspective, so that you know what parts are appropriate for your loved ones, and which are not. This week's COVER YOUR EYES subject: “Gremlins”
It's holiday movie season time. And what better way to share in the joy and spirit of the season than by watching cuddly creatures mutate into bloodthirsty mini-demons? That's right, it's time for us to revisit "Gremlins," the 1984 Christmas classic that will probably go down as the second-most violent PG film ever made ("Temple of Doom" is #1). I watched this movie when I was eight years old, which probably scarred me for life. But I had no choice. The movie was the talk of the playground at the time. PEER PRESSURE WILL KILL US ALL. Before subjecting your kids to the horrors "Gremlins," let's consider a few factors.
The “Will Parents Be Able To Tolerate It?” Factor: Yep. "Gremlins" still holds up after nearly three decades (God, I'm old). You will find very few family movies these days that are as willing to venture into black, black comedy. I'm virtually certain that the movie is meant to be an allegory against teen pregnancy. I know I never wanted a pet or a child for years after I saw it.
The Dead Parent Factor: Oh, it's a doozy. You don't see Phoebe Cates' dad killed, but you sure do HEAR about it. In fact, it's probably the most traumatic part of the movie. How is that possible, given that the rest of "Gremlins" is a virtual bloodbath? We'll let Cates' character explain exactly what happened to dad:
The worst thing that ever happened to me was on Christmas. Oh, God. It was so horrible. It was Christmas Eve. I was 9 years old. Me and Mom were decorating the tree, waiting for Dad to come home from work. A couple hours went by. Dad wasn't home. So Mom called the office. No answer. Christmas Day came and went, and still nothing. So the police began a search. Four or five days went by. Neither one of us could eat or sleep. Everything was falling apart. It was snowing outside. The house was freezing, so I went to try to light up the fire. That's when I noticed the smell. The firemen came and broke through the chimney top. And me and Mom were expecting them to pull out a dead cat or a bird. And instead they pulled out my father. He was dressed in a Santa Claus suit. He'd been climbing down the chimney... his arms loaded with presents. He was gonna surprise us. He slipped and broke his neck. He died instantly. And that's how I found out there was no Santa Claus.
GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! Seriously, that's the worst thing I've ever heard.
The Sexy Sex Sex Factor: This is the Phoebe Cates movie where she DOESN'T take off her top. Your loss.
The Scare Factor: Huge. You know darn well that once those gross cocoons start popping up, bad things are gonna happen. Then there's that scene where the one teacher is about to be killed by the Gremlin and director Joe Dante stretches out the foreboding sense of doom to almost-unbearable lengths. It's a tense, tense viewing experience. I suggest giving your children a glass of sherry beforehand.
The Violence Factor: TONS. "Gremlins" is a full scale orgy of death. Watch the kitchen scene if you don't believe me. People get killed and eaten. Gremlins get chopped up in food processors and blown up in movie theaters. And then there's the infamous microwave death, which was THE playground topic of 1984. If you hadn't seen the microwave death, you weren't nobody at my school. It's a slasher movie to the core.
Age Range: 2 and up. Just kidding. 13 and up. It's a PG-13 movie in retrospect--treat it like one.