In Hollywood, the forces of truth, justice, family and America have always battled with the viewing public’s unquenchable lust for mayhem. Few movies have walked that tightrope as skilfully or subversively as 1984’s ‘Gremlins’, in which director Joe Dante tries to have his Christmas cake and puke all over it too. The setting is Kingston Falls, a Capraesque-Spielbergian suburban haven (with just a hint of poverty, alcoholism and unemployment) into which comes Gizmo the mogwai, a button-cute, furry ET clone with a dark secret: under certain circumstances, he begins breeding toothy, green id-monsters.
The film’s craftiest trick is that we never know which side Dante is on: these demonic invaders may threaten everything the well-meaning, self-satisfied townsfolk hold dear, but is that such a bad thing? And don’t they look like they’re having one hell of a party? The result is a jangling, lunatic sugar rush of a movie, in love with everything it satirises and bursting at the seams with psychotic energy