Christmas isn’t always the best season for horror enthusiasts. Sure, every now and then we’ll get a Black Christmas or a Silent Night, Deadly Night, but it’s typically a time of year where we are pretty much ignored by movie studios. Nevertheless, I still find plenty of ways to get my horror fix during the holiday season. I watch lots of non-Christmas related horror movies, but the one movie I have to watch every Christmas is Joe Dante’s 1984 classic, Gremlins.
Gremlins, aside from Black Christmas, is probably the most obvious choice for an annual Christmas viewing, so I apologize for not being a bit more original. There really isn’t anything to say about it that hasn’t already been said before. Gremlins is the perfect gateway horror movie for a child and in my opinion should be mandatory family viewing for everyone each Christmas. Maybe put it right in the middle of viewings of A Christmas Story, Love Actually and Christmas Vacation.
Gremlins is one of the first movies I remember really scaring me as a kid (also, Mrs. Doubtfire. I don’t know why. I always used to cry when his fake boobs caught on fire). The exact moment where I had the “oh crap” reaction was when the transformed gremlin escapes from his crate in the school’s science lab and the teacher is reaching under the desk to grab him. As you all know, things do not end well for that teacher. I had nightmares for weeks about that particular scene.
The movie definitely balances comedy and horror pretty well, as evidenced by the infamous kitchen scene (which also freaked me out a little bit as a kid):
That microwave bit gets me every time. In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have watched Gremlins at such a young age, but I’m glad I did because I have some great memories showing it to my friends. I’m one of those people who likes to watch other people watch movies I like (weird, I know) and if I ever find someone who hasn’t seen Gremlins I light up like a Christmas tree (sorry) and put it on. It’s just become one of those movies that I feel everyone should have seen. And it’s not easy to find a Gremlins virgin nowadays!
We have a lot of reasons to be thankful for Gremlins. It (along with Poltergeist and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) led to the creation of the PG-13 rating, though some may not see that as a blessing. It led to a fantastic sequel (I still prefer the first one because of all the horror elements but I can’t deny that The New Batch is a brilliant film). It gave us one of the best Christmas monologues of all time. I actually had no idea that some people (Roger Ebert) thought Phoebe Cates’ monologue was supposed to be funny. It always stuck out as the one true depressing moment of the film.
So what horror movie do you watch every Christmas? It doesn’t even have to be a Christmas-themed movie. Maybe you like to go against the grain and watch Halloween every December 25th. Who knows? But feel free to discuss in the comments below and share your Christmas movie with everyone!