‘Gremlins’ 4K Release Reminds Us of the Most Depressing Christmas Story Ever
“Now I have another reason to hate Christmas,” declares Kate, played by Phoebe Cates, in Gremlins, now 35 years old and available now in 4K, if seeing a bunch of stop-motion creatures walk awkwardly down the street in ultra-high resolution is your jam.
Gremlins still holds up shockingly well given the special effects, which at times appear dated but for the most part work just as well as they did in the 80’s… and if anything, the sometimes choppy monster effects actually add to the allure of the movie, a horror-comedy set around Christmas that relies heavily on the ridiculousness of the entire situation without ever becoming ridiculous itself.
After all these years, after all the many times I’ve seen Gremlins, there’s only one thing that has stuck with me since childhood: love interest Kate’s horrific story about Christmas, and the reason she hates it so.
Sure, there’s Gizmo, the cute (though in high-resolution, his sweaty, clammy mouth area looks a tad bit less adorable than I recalled) mogwai at the center of the action, the Three Rules that I imagine most people who grew up in the 80’s can cite off hand (never mind the illogicial “eating after midnight” rule), and the fact that the mom, being the badass she is, singlehandedly dispenses with the first several gremlins, blending one to death and stabbing another.
But Kate’s haunting story has lingered with me for years, an odd inclusion in a movie that otherwise revels in the silliness of its creatures.
Years earlier, Kate’s dad never showed up on Christmas Eve. She was 9, and she and her mom waited for him to come home from work. Christmas Day passed. Nothing. Five days later, Kate goes to light the fireplace because it was getting cold, and notices a terrible smell. Expecting a dead cat, instead they discover Kate’s dad, dead from a broken neck, dressed as Santa Claus.
First, one an idiotic thing to do. But two, what a horrible, horrible, epically horrible story, let alone one about Christmas. It’s one that will never leave me.