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A horror-comedy about cute little Christmas toy/pets who turn into murderous monsters wreaking havoc on a Norman Rockwellian town.
New York Times:
Gremlins is far more interested in showing off its knowledge of movie lore and making random jokes than in providing consistent entertainment.
What's confusing yet ultimately illuminating is the way his gremlins function as a free-floating metaphor, suggesting at separate junctures everything from teenagers to blacks to various Freudian suppressions.
Dante is perhaps the first filmmaker since Frank Tashlin to base his style on the formal free-for-all of animated cartoons; he is also utterly heartless.
At the level of Serious Film Criticism, it's a meditation on the myths in our movies: Christmas, families, monsters, retail stores, movies, boogeymen. At the level of Pop Moviegoing, it's a sophisticated, witty B movie.
Dante gleefully sinks his teeth into the kind of fluffy, sugary, sickly small town fantasy beloved of his pal and sometime producer Spielberg.
The humans are little more than dress-extras for the mechanics.