The Potent Horror Comedy Duo of ‘Gremlins’ and ‘Gremlins 2’

October is the month for spookiness. Also candy and finding out what decidedly non-sexual things have been fetishized for women’s Halloween costumes this year. Mostly, though, it’s a month for horror and the macabre and eerie. The Crypt Keeper loves it. I’m ambivalent on it. I don’t eat candy, I don’t dress up much, and I also am not really a fan of horror. Some of it I like but I’m down on, say, slasher films. I have no interest in watching people getting sliced up or brutalized. Thanks, but no thanks. What I do have affinity for, though, is the horror comedy. Admittedly, the comedy is shouldering the load there for me, but when it comes time to watch horror films, like October, I dig into the comedic horror flicks out there. Two of them are particularly favorites of mine, and they also happen to be in the same series. Also, they have nothing to do with Halloween, weirdly enough.

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Of course, I’m speaking of Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch. They come from Joe Dante, who is sort of the master of the horror comedy in some ways. The two Gremlins films, though, are the high point of his career. You probably know the gist of the story. There’s a cute little mogwai named Gizmo. When mogwai get wet, they multiply, and for some reason the offspring tend to evil, as opposed to sweet Gizmo. Then, if they eat after midnight, they turn into gremlins, who are purely evil and anarchic, but in a way that tends to be fun to watch. Chaos ensues, people die non-gory deaths, gremlins die VERY gory deaths, and in the end Gizmo and his human buddies Billy and Kate survive.

Gremlins, the 1984 film that is partially responsible for the creation of the PG-13 rating, is from the family of horror films that center on Christmas. It sets all the rules, and it’s a bit darker than its sequel. Gremlins splits the horror and the comedy pretty evenly. A lot of funny stuff happens, and the gremlins get up to some wacky antics that is delightful in its way, but it’s also fairly macabre. Also, it’s gruesome sometimes. A gremlin gets blended. Another explodes into the microwave. The gore is all creature related, though, which is partially why it was PG.

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Gremlins is really good. I like it quite a bit. The New Batch, though, is maybe my favorite sequel ever. This movie is basically a straight-up comedy with some horror elements. Gremlins are still terrorizing everybody, but there is less violence and a ton of jokes. It’s meta and crazy. There is a guy who is a parody of Donald Trump and Ted Turner rolled into one. The movie “breaks” in the middle, because gremlins ruined it. Then Hulk Hogan yells at the gremlins and they fix it. One gremlin can talk, and he’s voiced by Tony Randall.

Gremlins 2 is super funny. Even if you don’t like horror movies you might like it. It’s funny and clever, but you have to see Gremlins first. It’s worth it, though. If you want something spooky this Halloween, and don’t mind that the films have nothing to do with Halloween, watch the two Gremlins movies. They are funny, but have enough scary stuff to fit into your horror watching schedule.

About Chris Morgan

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