On a sales call to a gloomy Chinatown cliché emporium, Randall Peltzer (Hoyt Axton) obtains a mogwai, a wittering Furby/shih-tzu hybrid as Christmas gift for his son Billy (Zach Galligan). Mogwai ownership has three impossible conditions: they can’t stand bright lights; you can’t get them wet; you can’t feed them after midnight. Simpering Billy hasn’t a hope, and soon Gizmo is spawning malevolent green doppelgangers, destined to smash up snowglobe-pretty Bedford falls in a cavalcade of gore, smoke, snow, goo, drool, popcorn and fairylights.
Director Joe Dante tells a simple story with anarchic spirit, rabid humour and painstaking puppetry to delightfully messy effect. In true pantomime tradition, the young leads are tedious, but eccentrics like acidic hag Mrs Deagle (Polly Holliday) and cameo-spotting opportunities from the likes of Corey Feldman and Chuck Jones more than compensate. With its festive re-release in the age of slinky CGI, the hand-crafted chaos of Gremlins promises, now more than ever, a delirious, alternative riot. [Kirsty Leckie-Palmer]