In cult classic Gremlins as Christmas approaches, Randall Peltzer (Hoyt Axton) is passing a Chinatown curio shop when he notices a curious pet for sale: a cute, furry Mogwai. Buying it for his son Billy (Zach Galligan), he’s warned that it must never get wet, be allowed into the sunlight or fed after midnight.
Inevitably, all three happen and the cute little animal starts spawning evil, maniacal reptilian killers who begin to cause havoc in the town before their inevitable downfall and the happy ending with the Mogwai once again a loveable, cute pet.
Such was the furore over some of the violent scenes in the film that a new rating, PG-13, was created in America but Dante also has his tongue firmly in his cheek, as the little monsters parody Christmas traditions, show a fine taste in films and breakdance beautifully before creating mayhem against the backdrop of the snow-clad town. The film was a breakthrough for Dante, who went on to direct The ‘burbs (another skewed look at suburbia under threat).
USA / Warner Bros / 1984
Writer: Chris Columbus / Director: Joe Dante
Cast: Zach Galligan, Hoyt Axton, Frances Lee McCain, Phoebe Cates, Polly Holliday