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There’s no point in arguing about it; “Gremlins” is an undeniable holiday horror staple that deserves its place as a cultural touchstone.

SHOW NOTES FROM YOUR HOST DONNA:

In this episode, I’m kicking off the month-long December series of Christmas-themed horror films with a horror comedy classic, Gremlins (1984). This Joe Dante-directed dark comedy is a holiday must in my home, so I’m briefly breaking down this film.

Yes, Gremlins IS a Christmas horror film!

This 1984 horror-comedy film was directed by Joe Dante (The Howling) and written by Chris Columbus of Home Alone fame. It was also produced by none other than Stephen Spielberg. It stars Zach Galligan, Pheobe Cates, and Howie Mandel as the voice of the adorable Gizmo, the main mogwai character.

Hailed as a quintessential gateway film for budding horror fans, it’s made extra special by its stellar creature feature vibes and black comedy set against a festive holiday setting. Gremlins draws on legends of folkloric mischievous creatures that cause malfunctions—”gremlins”—in the British Royal Air Force going back to World War II. The story follows a young man who receives a strange creature as a pet, which then spawns other creatures who transform into small, destructive, mischievous monsters that all wreak havoc on a whole town on Christmas Eve.

Although heavily criticized at the time for its violent sequences in a family-friendly film, Gremlins was a critical and commercial success. The controversy over its dark content and questionable appropriateness for children led to a new PG-13 rating from the MPAA.

The original screenplay for Gremlins was even scarier, with a higher body count and creepy creatures. However, producer Steven Spielberg intervened with his own ideas, turning the movie into a holiday classic. 

Though deliciously dark and wickedly funny, Gremlins is more than just a fun B-movie holiday horror treat. This is a film with some incredibly smart and poignant things to say. It brilliantly satirizes Western civilization, including skewering greed, materialism, and xenophobia. A pitch-perfect Yuletide morality tale, it shows how love and affection can’t be bought with commercial goods.

ABOUT THE SHOW:

Donna Tha Dead

Donna Tha Dead is a podcast for lovers of horror, cult classics, and other genres of cinemas. Your host, Donna, is a confirmed ghost story and horror film addict.  To those that can hear Donna’s voice, she invites you to come hold her hand in the darkness and listen.

New episodes typically post every other week, and you can listen right here on morbidlybeautiful.com or wherever you get your favorite podcasts.

You can connect with Donna on Instagram and Twitter @donna_tha_dead.

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