BEFORE: I've got my ticket for the opening night of "Star Wars: Episode VII", so now I just have to watch 20 more films, get through Halloween and Thanksgiving, and then I know for sure how Year 7 is going to end. Today is also "Back to the Future" day, it's the day that Marty McFly traveled forward to from the year 1985 and got a look at his own future. Me, I'm flashing back to 1984 with this one, it's another of those films that nearly everyone has seen, it seems, except for me.
(Interesting trivia - the set used for this film's fictional Kingston Falls is on the Universal back lot, and was also used as the set for Hill Valley in "Back to the Future")
Linking from "Zombieland", Woody Harrelson was in a film called "The Sunchaser" with Harry Carey Jr. Or, if you prefer, Bill Murray was also in "Space Jam" with characters voiced by Frank Welker, and Frank voices some of the title characters tonight.
THE PLOT: A boy inadvertantly breaks 3 important rules concerning his new pet and unleashes a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town.
AFTER: My overall feeling is that this film has not aged very well, I find it difficult to take the film seriously because the special effects are so bad, at least by today's standards. Maybe these creatures were cutting edge back in 1984, but they just look like simple puppets now. I suppose you have to say this was an innovative film, because this predated all the cute/demonic creature films like "Ghoulies" and "Child's Play". Well, I'm not an expert in the genre, after all.
But this film is just ill-advised, all around. Was some movie executive trying to teach his kid a lesson about not being repsonsible enough to take care of a pet? Jeez, get your kid a goldfish or a hamster, already, why do you have to drag me in to your family drama and make me watch these characters learn valuable life lessons?
Anyway, I think these "rules" for taking care of Mogwai are bogus, anyway. "Don't feed them after midnight"? OK, when am I supposed to feed them, then, when the whole damn day comes after midnight? Did you mean to say "Don't feed them until morning", because that would be more clear. Something like "Don't feed them between 12 midnight and 6 am" would be a lot more helpful. How about "Don't feed them until after sunrise", because that would be good all year - in the winter the night lasts longer, so the instructions are really going to be confusing if it's still dark out.
Plus, what kind of a father brings home a pet for his son, for Christmas no less, when it's an animal that he's never seen before, that doesn't match any animal on the planet that he's familiar with? I mean, most people are aware of all the different types of pet you can own - cat, dog, lizard, snake, fish, frog, hamster, ferret even - that's it! Anything outside of those categories, something you don't even recognize, you don't bring that home! He does this like it's not even a thing - that animal could be poisonous, vicious, toxic to humans. What an idiot.
But the worst, the absolute worst, has to be after the evil Gremlins are loosed (because the kid couldn't follow the complicated rules, what a shock) and they're tearing apart the town, killing people and destroying everything. And the lead boy has a moment with the lead female, in between being chased around by the gremlins - and she chooses that exact moment to relate the story of why she doesn't celebrate Christmas. Are you kidding me? Honey, you're being chased by evil demon creatures with teeth, and you're going to take a moment and share a personal story NOW? Why don't you wait until there aren't little beasties trying to kill you?
I can't take this film seriously. Maybe I'm not supposed to take this film seriously, maybe nobody was ever supposed to take this film seriously. But that's not the point. If you're going to make a comedy, make a comedy - if you're going to make a horror film, make a horror film. You can't do both, unless you're doing a parody film like "Scary Movie" - instead you end up trying to satisfy the conventions and fans of both genres, and doing both things poorly. By contrast, "Zombieland" is a horror film with some comedy in it, but this whole film is just too silly.
Also starring Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates (last seen in "Bright Lights, Big City"), Hoyt Axton (last seen in "We're No Angels"), Corey Feldman, Keye Luke (last seen in "Alice"), Polly Holliday, Glynn Turman (last seen in "Super 8"), Frances Lee McCain (last seen in "Patch Adams", but hey, she was also in "Back to the Future"!), the voices of Howie Mandel, Bob Bergen, Michael Sheehan, Michael Winslow, and cameos from Jonathan Banks (last seen in "Horrible Bosses 2"), Chuck Jones, Judge Reinhold and Steven Spielberg.
RATING: 4 out of 10 Christmas trees