Festival of Fiendishness – Day 2: THE GREMLINS

I’m marginally ashamed to admit that I have had my share of laughter at the expense of the handicapped. That’s a great way to start, huh? But those of you who know me—really know me—know it’s true. Laughing at the wrong things at the wrong times has always been my jene sais quoi—the handi-capable floor hockey game (which I tried to videotape), the midget Michael Jackson impersonator on Sabado Gigante who proceeded to hump the stage Bobby Brown-style (which I also unsuccessfully tried to tape—fucking VHS), the kid who tried to tell me he had a bad stuttering problem WHILE STUTTERING. Anything on Discovery Health. I don’t care how inappropriate, if it’s funny, I’m going to laugh. Right then. I can’t help it. I know it’s wrong. I know I’m going to Hell for it—at this point I’m trying to get air conditioning.

So you can imagine my utter delight when I saw Mrs. Deagle’s old ass go flying up the stairs at warp speed in that motorized chair and fly out the window. That was funny enough. But then I heard a bunch of little voices laughing their asses off at the whole thing. That ramped up the hilarity to an entirely different level. To this day, I can’t visit my childhood church without picturing one of our deaconesses zipping up the stairs. And I bet while you were reading this, you were muttering to yourself, “Deagle! Deagle Deagle Deagle!”

I was 11 when Gremlins came out. That means it was everything I was looking for: an excuse to break every rule I was given. It even came with very simple rules: don’t expose them to bright light, don’t get them wet, and never, ever feed them after midnight. Simple rules, huh? Nobody follows the rules. This is the best follow-the-rules movie ever—should have been an Afterschool Special. The dad brings home the Mogwai as a gift for his grown-but-unwilling-to-move-out son, Billy. Right after getting the rules, Billy blinds Gizmo with the bathroom light, repeatedly. Drunk ass Corey Feldman (you know he was drunk as a kid too) spills water on Gizmo and made them mean-ass puff balls. Next thing you know, the dog is strapped to the door, Gizmo is spat on and tossed down the laundry chute and the new Mogwai convince Billy to feed them chicken. After midnight.

Then it gets fun.

Mogwai turn to Gremlins, a lot of Gremlins thanks to Stripe (who really deserves his own slot in the pantheon), and they have a ball in the quiet little hamlet of Whateveritscalled. And I mean they have a BALL! They try to eat Billy’s mom—and we get to see Gremlins get microwaved, which is impressive since 17 people had microwaves in 1984. They kill the Colonel from A Different World (over an apple), take over a bar and get REALLY drunk, ruin some guy’s snowplow, pay Mrs. Deagle a visit, and go see Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. And then get blown up.

And laugh all the way through it.

This is what makes the Gremlins so fantastic, so exceptional: through it all—the bloodshed, the wanton terror, singing Hi Ho with the dwarves—they are having an amazing time! They are enjoying every single moment of their mischief, regardless of the consequences, even when the consequences happen to each other. It is all fun and games to them and, by watching them, you can’t help but have a good time too. And they have one hell of a theme song!

Now that’s an incredible villain—the one that makes you hope their villainy didn’t end and wish you were along for the ride.

And tomorrow—Mr. Anderson, that is the sound of inevitability. Agent Smith jumps out of the Matrix into my blog!

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