This week, the Gore Girls decided to go easy on themselves. Wusses. “Gremlins,” directed by Joe Dante, isn’t strictly a horror movie. More of a comedy/horror. I’m sure a young child would be suitably terrified, and plenty of the right horror movie beats are hit, but this isn’t a traditional scare flick. The story follows a young man who receives a furry little creature as a Christmas gift. The season’s greetings fall apart when the beastie — a Mogwai — multiplies and his dopplegangers transform into hideous, green lizard-like gremlins.
Jenni: I never saw “Gremlins” as a kid because it was too scary, and obviously now it’s not that scary, but I think it would have definitely traumatized me! It’s a different beast, if you will, than “Where the Wild Things Are,” because I personally felt that was very much a movie for adults who loved the book.
Terri: I saw “Wild Things” last night and I agree with you. When I was a kid, “Gremlins” scared the crap out of me. You’re right though, the fear isn’t something that sustains itself well into adulthood with “Gremlins.” But “Gremlins” I would argue was made to be a horror film for kids, whereas “Wild Things” I felt was more of an art film. The element of human corruption in “Gremlins” was something I never picked up on as a kid, though. I guess you could call it an adult horror film in that sense!
Jenni: Yeah, it’s like a gross thrill. Ewwww, gremlin in the microwave! And that was the mom who blew that one up!
Terri: Mom went after those “Gremlins” like a pro.
Jenni: True! It is a bit dark for kids, but I think kids like to be scared. I mean, some kids’ movies from my youth like “The Dark Crystal were pretty dark.
Terri: I never saw “Dark Crystal,” and I only saw “Labyrinth” in my teens. Maybe I had a neglected childhood? There’s something about puppets in films that gets me every time. They are so, so creepy!
Jenni: Yeah, puppets can be terrifying. I think Jim Henson really plumbed those dark psychological places for kids. What you said about the adults, though, in “Gremlins,” is true too. The adults are off-kilter. I mean, who ties a dog up with Christmas lights!
Terri: Wait, wasn’t that supposed to be the “Gremlins” who did that?
Jenni: Oh, I thought it was the crazy rich woman from the bank scene.
Terri: That would have been so creepy! She was a whole different kind of evil. How much did you love seeing little Corey Feldman? It’s so refreshing compared to what he turned into. Made me want to watch “The Lost Boys.”
Jenni: “The Lost Boys” is an excellent Halloween movie. “Gremlins” is a kids’ horror movie, of sorts, and then “The Lost Boys” is for teenagers.
Terri: I would agree with that, but “The Lost Boys” didn’t give my sixth grade self nightmares. This is the same girl who wouldn’t watch more than one episode of “Are You Afraid Of The Dark” in her lifetime. How do you feel about horror flicks? Would you say it’s a healthy genre to be marketing to our nation’s youth?
Jenni: Hah! I think that’s a great question. I mean, something like “Gremlins” with Steven Spielberg as an exec producer is a totally different beast than what kids today are actually seeing with their parents. I don’t think companies are actually targeting the kids — literally kids — who go to see “Saw” and stuff like that. Their parents take them. And it drives me nuts. Besides the fact that they generally make it a pain in the ass for me to enjoy a movie, it is just totally irresponsible.
Terri: But what about the market of making horror films geared towards kids? Do you think it even exists anymore with parents taking their children to see adult horror movies?
Jenni: I think the marketing is so pervasive, it doesn’t matter. And some parents don’t care. I would say that I think “Gremlins” is a good film to watch with your kids around Halloween, or just to revisit your childhood, but I also think that your kids have probably watched “Saw” one through 10 already.
Jenni: Actually they’re up to “Saw VI” now.
Terri: They only stopped at six? I thought we were at least into the 40s or 50s. I’d agree, though I’d say don’t be buying your kid a Furby for Christmas if you’re showing them “Gremlins” at Halloween.
Jenni: Oh, I don’t think they’re stopping. That’s just the next one.
Terri: It will never stop!
Jenni: Jigsaw is like a gremlin when you get it wet. It just starts popping out sequels everywhere.