The Walking Recap: Strangers

Wow. As Chris Hardwick said at the very beginning of tonight’s Talking Dead: that was vile. I give this episode 4 out of 5 soggy walkers. What an intense and insane season this is already shaping up to be, isn’t it?

First of all– Gabriel, the priest the group stumbles upon early in the episode, is mysterious, not to mention annoyingly meek– which in itself is a mystery, since the zombie apocalypse has been going on long enough now for someone to be used to, and not paralyzingly afraid of, the walkers. The group finds Father Gabriel cowering and screaming for help on a large boulder while futilely trying to fend off a group of walkers below him. The group saves him, but is also highly skeptical of him, as they should be; he seems to have rubbed Rick the wrong way the minute he starts spewing his “protection of God” sermon, and I certainly do not blame him. But the religious undertones of forgiveness in this episode, and in the series as a whole I think, are interesting to consider nevertheless.

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Anyway, they follow him back to his church, where he’d been hiding alone this whole time, allegedly, living off of donated food that never made it to the food bank in town. But when there is such a food bank available, it’s only natural that our group would go scavenge there, right? Father Gabriel says he avoided it due to his fear of the waterlogged walkers in the semi-flooded basement, but that’s something the viewers would love to see, isn’t it?

These walkers looked more like undead, mutant sea creatures. They were disgusting, probably the show’s most daring and interesting zombie makeups yet, even more gag-inducing than the well walker of season 2– their milky blue skin drooped and dripped and sagged, and their deaths were particularly gruesome, too. I loved it even while wincing at it. Even Bob says that it smelled like a sewer could puke. Well, these walkers looked perfectly at home in that fowl setting.

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But, happy ending (temporarily speaking), they end up with a feast’s worth of food, and what a feast do they have. Everyone is laughing and bonding over former-communion wine, and Abraham makes an idyllic speech that finally sells Rick on whether everyone will join in on the heroic road trip to D.C. Carol on the other hand, steps out to an abandoned car she prepped in case things went south at the church but it seemed a lot to me like she was actually going to leave the group again. Daryl finds her, though, and then a car drives by them– a car with a cross on the rear window, similar to the car that Beth was taken away in! And it’s a cross… and Gabriel is a priest… let the speculating and theorizing commence, am I right?

Daryl and Carol take off in hot pursuit of the Holy Kidnap mobile, while Bob stands some distance away from the church, leaning upon a tree, crying. I didn’t get to linger too long on why he was crying– he’s always had inner-conflict and baggage and bouts of alcoholism, anyway– before someone in a hood knocked him out from behind. I shouldn’t have been so bewildered at who it might have been– clearly the Terminus folks didn’t all die.

Alas, Bob wakes up, tied to a post, with Gareth telling him how none of this was personal, and that they would have done this to anyone (but he also remarks that it is a bit of cosmic justice since Bob’s group was responsible for their home’s destruction, turning them into hunters again). He also talks about how they didn’t always eat people– cannibalism confirmed– but man’s gotta eat. That’s when we zoom out from a close up to a medium long shot of Bob, missing one leg! And Gareth– and his remaining Terminus crew– are all chowing down on meat! And he tells Bob that he tasted better than he thought he would! And we see a foot roasting in the fire! And the whole ordeal is by far more disturbing than any zombie the show could ever produce– sewer-puke water balloon walkers included.

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Other moments of note: Carl and Rick argue over whether to trust Father Gabriel, and Carl finds the words “you’ll burn for this” scratched into the outside of the church (Carl says he doesn’t know if it means that Gabriel is a bad guy, but he does know it means something, and I tend to agree). Carol tells Daryl that she can’t talk about anything she’s experienced in their time apart (mainly, the events of “The Grove” from last season), because she just wants to forget– a line she basically stole from Tyrese, who by the way did not kill the Terminus guy in last week’s episode after all, because that guy is seen happily chowing down on Bob-leg at the end of the episode.

A Very Redheaded Wrap-Up: New York Comic-Con

Another post I’ve been meaning to write since last weekend, here is an account of my redheaded romp through the Javits Center for New York Comic-Con 2014!

Friday: 

NYCC and the season premiere of The Walking Dead always seem to coincide, which is to say, they pair quite nicely. That being said– this poster will always be the closest I get to seeing the panel (even with the new wristband system where the Main Hall is cleared after every panel, corruption was abundant and many of these coveted spots were sold by a crew member; tsk tsk!)

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Anyway, I wore my Pinhead Hellraiser shirt and went to a panel called “Reinventing Horror.” It was super interesting because the panelists– who ranged in profession from comic book authors/illustrators to filmmakers and novelists– talked about the ways in which what scares us changes as we age. Many of them noted that body horror freaks them out as they get older, for instance, as well as movies that aren’t typically considered to be horror films. Someone mentioned All Is Lost– the Robert Redford film which I’m literally too scared to see– as being horrifying to them even though it isn’t a genre film. I’m always fascinated by genre boundaries, so that was really cool. Of course, things got slightly tangential when A Serbian Film was brought up, but even that incited a fascinating discussion about creativity, censorship, ownership and responsibility on the part of creators. Also, one panelist mentioned a horror novel he was currently reading called The Troop by Nick Cutter. Well, needless to say I am reading it now and it is amazing; totally creepy and creatively written and impossible to put down.

I also attended (but just barely) a Doctor Who panel about the last 10 years since the “new Who” arrived with Christopher Eccleston. It was fun but nothing too worthy of note– except that I’m thankfully not the only one who hated Clara Oswald’s one-dimensional writing (not at all Jenna Louise Coleman’s fault, hence my intended emphasis on the writing of her character) but who loves the character in this season with Peter Capaldi, with whom I think she has much better chemistry too.

Oh and I tried some fantasy food from the fantasy food truck!

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Best Cosplay of Friday: My favorite cosplays I saw on Friday included someone who dressed as one of the animal-masked killers from You’re Next and this couple who did a Pris and Deckard Blade Runner cosplay! 10712967_10152731677653604_8663598784304692317_n

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Saturday:

Saturday I wore my Doc in a Box shirt (Doctor Who/SNL “Dick in a Box” crossover) and first thing in the morning, I attended the official The League panel! The FX show is one of my favorite comedies right now, even though I’m admittedly not current. They showed an upcoming episode which was hilarious, of course. Then, the whole cast was there– including Jason Mantzoukas, who I adore as Rafi. The Q & A took a turn for the annoying and awkward as they so often do, due to question-askers not really asking questions. But Mark Duplass and Nick Kroll were particularly funny in their handling of these pesky time wasters (and Paul Scheer was also really funny– but I feel like I’m mostly stating obvious facts here). But it was Mantzoukas who amused me the most, especially when the panel realized there was a young-ish boy in the audience. The Strain-related penis jokes and other forms raunchy chaos ensued. And we got free mini-footballs with The League logo on them!

Then, I attended the official Sailor Moon panel! I haven’t actually actively watched the beloved anime since I was a kid but the nostalgia was enough to get me through the boring panel before it. Apparently, it’s been remastered and redubbed with an all new English cast. They showed clips, handed out free posters, and basically made me want to be a 6 year old again (or to at least dig up all my old Sailor Moon merch and revel in its former glory).

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Favorite Cosplays of Saturday:

This Sharknado 2 cosplay had me cracking up as we waited in line for The League panel. But there was also a group of gender swapped Sailor scouts so that was also pretty great.

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Sunday: 

I spent most of Sunday on the showfloor and then only attended a Women in Geek Media panel. It was only helpful in the sense that I am a female who blogs about occasionally nerdy things. But I’m lucky enough to have never faced any kind of discrimination yet, and if I ever do, the advice these girls gave will definitely come in handy– I intend to always do what I love and know that online haters don’t have it as good as me if I’m the one who’s doing the creating.

Favorite Cosplays of Sunday:

I don’t have any pics, but there were some amazing Guardians of the Galaxy cosplays– particularly Groot and Rocket (although there was a freakishly good-looking Peter Quill/Star-Lord– like, it could have been Chris Pratt’s cousin). Also, a feminine– but not sexualized– Batman and Robin; these women wore seemingly hand-made ball gowns inspired by the characters and it was really impressive.

Swag, Merch, and Other Cool Finds: 

The fact that I’m reading The Troop is actually ironic– I wrote the title down only to find that my mom had bought it on the showfloor that same day. I also bought two marked-down graphic novels including Marvel 1602: Spider-Man (aka Peter Parquagh), a Marvel vintage comic book wallet, a little Spider-Man that grasps onto your headphones (it matches my Spider-Man iPhone case!) and a little Spider-Man print from an artist that says “Keep Calm and Be Amazing” (it was a better deal to buy a few though so I also got one of baby dancing Groot!) It seems like my purchases were dominated by Spider-Man but I also got Metropolis on Blu-Ray for only $20 from Kino Lorber’s Kino-CULT booth. I can’t wait to rewatch it. We also got tons of free tote bags as usual, no free tee shirts this year though. But all in all, it was a successful Comic-Con weekend! Thanks for reading!

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The Walking Recap: No Sanctuary

Hello dear followers and fellow Walking Dead fanatics! My sincerest apologies for publishing my Walking Recap so delayed– a minor case of the infamous “con flu” (which, in my case, is really just a head cold brought on by post-NYCC exhaustion) has made me sluggish. But better late than never– let’s talk about that season 5 premiere, shall we!

This episode ushered in the new season with a literal bang; the entire episode was a metaphorical explosion– suspense coming to a head and bursting with violence, action and emotion over and over again, exhilarating and unrelenting– that also happened to feature an actual explosion. I give this season opener a 4.5 out of 5 crispy, flame-broiled walkers.

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First of all, the voiceover snippets at the very beginning were deeply effective even if they were fleeting, as they’re paired with flashes of our train car bound survivors crafting makeshift weapons in preparation of their escape. Then, the show becomes a well-lit scene from a torture porn for a few white-knuckled minutes, as Rick, Daryl, Glenn and Bob Stookey are taken to the chopping block; that pun was very much intended, since the other gagged men with them are systematically and brutally beaten and killed, their blood draining into the trough-like sink they’re kneeling at, while another man lies dead, cut open on a table. So, the whole cannibal thing certainly becomes a lot clearer at this point. And poor Glenn– his buffoonish would-be killers keep getting interrupted by their leader, the smarmy hipster villain, Gareth. But every time they raise their bats and bludgeons only to be stopped, the gimmick remains tense and terrifying. Thank goodness for Gareth wanting to know their bullet count!

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Well, of course, Rick proves his end-of-last-season statement, that Terminus’ overlords were screwing with the wrong people. They make their escape but thanks in large part to the aforementioned explosion, caused by none other than Carol! Good old Carol, always doing something insane to maybe save the day– except in this case, it really works, as both distraction and destruction. But, in carrying out this plan, she leaves gentle giant Tyrese with another of the hipster villains, who eventually threatens baby Judith’s life in one of the episode’s more quietly intense moments. Tyrese’s fury is eventually unleashed though– which was very satisfying to behold.

Anyway, back to Carol– her showdown with creepy Mary was awesome, because in a way, you sort of see them as two sides of the same coin. Both have gone more or less crazy at least in comparison with their former selves, doing things no woman– make that no human– should ever feel they have to. But Carol is seen more and more as a truly human anti-hero; she is not a cold sociopath but rather an extremely sacrificial realist.

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Mary claims that things were worse before they took over Terminus– that they were beaten and raped by its former leaders until their mutiny. I don’t know if we’re being asked to weigh evil against evil in this post-apocalyptic scenario, but it is crucial that the episode is presented to us as “Now” and “Then,” the latter being a flashback to Mary and Gareth in the train car, and Gareth says– you’re either the butcher or you’re the cattle. It’s a haunting line that Mary even says to Carol during their confrontation. It speaks to the way many of these characters have negotiated or lost or refashioned their conceptions of their own humanity. It speaks to the way many of these characters have grappled with good and evil, ethics and necessity.

It’s a chilling and ominous line but nothing was more chilling than that secret post-credit scene– Morgan has returned! We see a masked man find Rick’s edits to the Terminus signs (they now say “No Sanctuary”) and when he reveals his face, it is exciting and shocking– what will this mean for the rest of the season?

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Among the many amazing moments of this episode, my favorite has got to be the Daryl-Carol reunion. Their emotional embrace was too much for me, although I really hope Daryl and Beth are reunited at some point as well– I grew to like their dynamic even more. But even so, the look on Daryl’s face of relief and elation was wonderful and proved that the human element of this genre show about the dead is very much alive.

Review: Gone Girl

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Director: David Fincher
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 anniversary scavenger hunt clues. This film was not only a near-perfect novel-to-film adaptation and even-closer-to-perfect collaboration between Fincher and Gillian Flynn (who wrote the screenplay based on her own book– which helped immensely in transferring the novel’s dark tone) but this is also one of Fincher’s most sophisticated and polished films– an appropriately stylish, impeccably paced, cynical and smart noir about media and marriage and the toxicity inherent in both.

While some details of Flynn’s novel about Amy Elliott Dunne, wife of Nick Dunne gone missing on their fifth wedding anniversary, are understandably lacking in Fincher’s adaptation, the essentials are all there somewhere– vividly brought to life, intelligently condensed and reworked, so that fans and non-readers alike can appreciate the essence of the novel. And honestly, I didn’t find myself missing anything that was left out, and Flynn found a way to convey many things in a shorter span of time without rushing, and translate them for a visual medium without forsaking some of her most affecting language.

The casting was also amazing, as I’d hoped: Affleck was both charming and alarmingly smug as Nick, and Pike gave a standout performance as Amy. Her voice carried the twisted persona Amy has in the book in a way that no one else’s could have, I don’t think. And the look in her eyes conveys even more– delusion, conviction, joy and pain (real and fake). She embodies Amy– one of the most complicated literary characters I personally have ever encountered– with an eerie sense of ease. Even Neil Patrick Harris as ex-boyfriend Desi and Tyler Perry as lawyer Tanner Bolt played their parts to campy perfection.

I think what makes the film a success though is that even I– someone who has read the book– was shocked and surprised by twists that I should have seen coming. Something about Fincher’s sense of timing and style combined with Flynn’s script made the twists fresh and effective even if you’re expecting them. The way one scene in particular (which I won’t disclose) is edited– flashes of a spoiler-riddled event separated by flashes of black, as if a film reel were damaged or skipping– will sicken and chill you to the bone, and if it doesn’t, then surely something else in the film will. For one thing, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross– working with Fincher for the third time here– have created a score that is basically the novel if set to music; it is dark, brooding, and at times, absolutely mesmerizing. And as much of a fan as I am of Fincher’s characteristic style, I feel like he used it more in service of the novel than to be self-indulgent; he experimented more while also drawing less attention to his blue-and-yellow hues, giving more attention instead to exploring these mysterious characters and already-unhappy-enough themes.

I also think those themes were more clearly accentuated in the film– whether it’s due to Affleck’s oft-mentioned star text (being a celebrity formerly haunted and hounded by the media), or simply the way film depicts and incorporates such media, the importance of all that media-manipulation and hype is emphasized somewhat more than I felt it was in the book. But I will say that the cynicism about marriage is intact and as brutal as ever; the film’s editing, replete with flashbacks and Amy’s poetic, problematic journal-voiceovers, forms a similar structure to the novel (his, her’s and their’s) and makes the trajectory of happy marriage to miserable one a bleak and fascinating journey, indeed.

I do think the film’s denouement– though also faithful to the novel– didn’t translate quite as well as it could have. It’s the only part of the film whose pacing felt a little awkward, but no less effecting emotionally. It is a conclusion that will nevertheless, like the rest of the film, stay with you. And that is one significant and impressive similarity between text and movie– it is rare for a book that is so intelligent and thought-provoking and disturbing to be all those things in its film version. And for that alone, this film is a must-see for Gone Girl’s readers. But for those who haven’t read the book, the film is still a twisty and stomach-churning tale that is perhaps Fincher’s most eloquent and thematically mature work. It will drag you in, tease you and spit you out– shaken but satisfied on nearly every level.

Review: The Skeleton Twins

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Director: Craig Johnson
Starring: Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Ty Burrell, Luke Wilson
Rating: 4 out of 5 skeleton keychains. This film is a well-acted family drama that is propelled out of melodramatic territory by strong, natural, nuanced performances by Hader and Wiig, Johnson’s direction which neither dwells in darkness nor shies away from it in favor of indie cliches, and a script that likewise utilizes Hader and Wiig’s comedic talent to find the humor and humanity in an otherwise emotional, serious story about siblings, secrets, sadness, and survival.

The Skeleton Twins stars Hader and Wiig as brother and sister– unhappy and estranged, they’re isolated by their despair and reunited by it, too. Milo (Hader) is a gay wannabe actor living in LA, and Maggie (Wiig) is a married wannabe housewife in their native upstate New York. The film is a well-paced journey to self-discovery for both of them, beginning with their nearly simultaneous suicide attempts.

My favorite thing about this film is how impeccably smart and subtle and sincere the script was. It carefully weaves these siblings’ histories through the present by revealing their painful past bit by tiny bit in a way that felt completely genuine and realistic. Exposition never felt like exposition, but rather, real-life conversations between two people who maybe never really spoke about these things before. It feels like we just happen to be witnessing these revelations as they happen, and that makes the film an immensely gripping experience.

Of course, I also loved Hader and Wiig. Two of the most memorable scenes in the film are, also, the most hilarious, which shouldn’t come as a surprise necessarily but I also don’t want to downplay the brilliance of their dramatic turns here. One scene features Maggie and Milo bonding at the dentist office where she works, over laughing gas no less. What I loved about this sequence though is that while Hader and Wiig are in typically top-notch comedic form, the next scene is similarly intimate as we watch them confide in each other. It’s during this scene specifically that you remember– these are not one-dimensional SNL characters being played by SNL cast-members. These are actors who give these characters their humanity, and it seems almost effortless. The film might have seemed totally dark had it not been for their humor, but Milo and Maggie (which is to say, Hader and Wiig)– much like the best of us– ebb and flow between all these different human emotions. Another wonderful scene is their lip sync duet. The film certainly has laughs, but it also finds a balance that I think is far more impressive. The film finds the humor in dark situations but it also tests Hader and Wiig to embrace and deal with some really dark themes and situations as Milo and Maggie.

So, no, this film should not be marketed as a comedy, not even a dark comedy. This film is a drama with moments of humor that I hesitate to even call comic relief. It’s a moving, entertaining, and even somewhat thought provoking character study about two people who, while dealing with similar grief and emotional demons in different ways, slowly realize that maybe all they need is each other in order to deal with them properly and grow. The film ends on a poignant, mostly ambivalent note that demonstrates this, and the lesson is a beautiful one to behold, especially as we spend the whole film growing closer with and sympathetic to these complex characters.

Forgotten Favorites: The East (2013)

large_4BdJyWnDnDOd3bvixHFJh9txIcmThe East (2013) is probably the most recent film I’ll ever write about as part of this feature, but upon a second viewing a couple of days ago, I realized why it might be forgotten; it inhabits quite an interesting position in independent cinema, and poses a kind of conundrum as to what independent cinema is or should look like. It’s a film whose genre might have prevented it from reaching any kind of indie-infamy (the kind of fame that many festival darlings receive, for instance). After all, it is a thriller of sorts. But it is also carefully paced, intelligent, and driven by its humanity– thematically and literally, with characters you come to ache for– not to mention stylish and mostly devoid of worn-out cliches.

The reason I consider it “forgotten,” just to reiterate, hinges upon this strange dichotomy– not mainstream enough in its genre sensibilities for people to respond to it as a thriller and yet perhaps not indie enough to reach acclaim, despite it garnering fairly positive reviews at the time of its release. I saw it in theaters last summer, shortly before I decided to make this blog. And I loved it. Yet, somehow, I keep forgetting about it myself, or so was the case until my second viewing.

I have no way of guaranteeing whether this film will remain “forgotten” for me from this point forward, but I like to think that it won’t. Morally complex and endlessly compelling, this film– the second collaboration between director Zal Batmanglij and actress Brit Marling– somehow manages to be intellectual and emotional, entertaining and sophisticated, all at once. But, for whatever reason– and it could be as simple as my lack of film reviewing experience when I first saw it– it affected me more deeply this time. It tells the story of Jane, undercover as Sarah (and played by Marling), sent to live with, observe, and thus help take down a mysterious eco-terrorist group called The East. But, somewhat predictably, she gradually begins to learn from them, growing to maybe even respect their aims (although perhaps not their means). Alexander Skarsgard, Ellen Page and Patricia Clarkson co-star in what becomes a subtly intense and timely tale of morality and criminality.

hero_TheEast-2013-1One of my favorite moments of the film is actually its opening– a wonderfully edited, deeply chilling introduction to The East’s goals and approach– Ellen Page’s voiceover bridges both surveillance footage and harrowing images of animals covered in oil after a devastating spill. We learn that the group’s philosophy is that of “an eye for an eye,” as security cameras capture their awesomely disturbing retribution: thick globs of oil spilling through the vents of a CEO’s house. We see each of their subsequent “jams” as they are being planned (aka debated over) and brilliantly (if not also tumultuously) executed, and the viewer is often in a similar position to Sarah’s; we know their acts are illegal, but are they anymore unethical than the acts they are punishing? Who is really to blame for these crimes against our environment, and does revenge actually spread awareness? Is it actually effective to target the rich and powerful who don’t seem to care?The East - 4

The film is a wake-up call of sorts to viewers though– if you want it to be one– that these injustices are real and that they matter, but it also questions what the best way of handling these problems might be. And this makes the film political but also purely thrilling, for all its wonderful, psychological complications. Skarsgard’s leader Benji is elusive, sometimes sympathetic and sometimes cold, but altogether, he is human. Sarah’s boss on the other hand, played by Clarkson, seems to be no better than the CEOs she works to protect. It is precisely these kinds of complications that make the film so engaging and difficult to grapple with on a deeper level– but it isn’t a film that requires you to think on that level necessarily to enjoy it.postfull-where-and-when-to-see-the-east-near-you-0S_083_TE_07276-2

On this deeper level though, these complications make the film a perfect thriller for our current climate– no pun intended– and that is why I don’t want it to be forgotten. It isn’t a perfect film, of course– in fact, many critics might say it falls flat in the final act with a conclusion that comes too abruptly and a shaky resolution that plays out in stills throughout the credits. But, The East does raise thematic questions through powerful, human lenses, and for that alone, I think it’s a success in whatever genre or label you’d prefer to place it in. It is a film that caters to the cerebral, the emotional, and the visual– it feels hip and intelligent and gripping, like I said. So for all it has going for it, it’s a shame that, by occupying such varied spaces and satisfying in so many ways, it is nearly impossible to categorize and thus really hard to remember. Again: a real shame for a film that should technically reach more people as a result of all it has to offer– entertaining and awakening us all, and achieving that rare balance with grace.

Forgotten Favorites: Gremlins (1984)

gremlins-movie-poster-1984-1020496735When Todd over at Forgotten Films invited me to join his next blogathon, which was set to be 1984-themed, I knew exactly what film I wanted to write about: Gremlins. Directed by Joe Dante and produced by Steven Spielberg, Gremlins is really a strange film in a lot of ways; it is nearly impossible to categorize because it is unlike anything else. It is also a movie that I’ve loved since childhood. That, in itself, is a loaded and interesting claim to make– is it a kids movie? No, not really. But it’s also not mature enough to be not for kids, if that makes sense… Truth be told, the film is the one of the most uproariously and outrageously fun and refreshingly eccentric blockbusters partly because it is so unique. It straddles a fine line that no other film had yet straddled in 1984, of course; for those who may not be aware, what I am trying to say with this cryptic analysis of the film’s tone and intended audience is simply that Gremlins is the movie that gave rise to a whole new rating: PG-13. Upon its release, the film was rated PG because R was a bit much– understandably so, for a movie about cute, cuddly creatures (even though they do not remain so cute and cuddly). But many parents felt PG was too soft– again, the creatures are anything but cute and cuddly for a solid portion of the film, and besides their now-creepy aesthetic, their bad behavior is laced with mischievous double entendres perhaps not suitable for children under 13.

While I often try to reserve a little space in my Forgotten Favorites features to discuss something slightly outside the film itself, I feel I’ve already digressed enough about the MPAA and if I go any further, this may devolve into me venting about the issues I have with said rating system. Needless to say though, this film was really more important than it ever seemed like it would be. I mean, there may be some deeper commentary going on (but just barely– much of the critique of consumerism is left for the film’s even zanier 1990 sequel, Gremlins 2: The New Batch) but overall, this is just a thrilling popcorn flick that flings you giddily, almost violently, through a number of emotions and reactions with every bit of hijinks that ensue.

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These hijinks (and the hilarity and minor scares that come with them) all begin when Billy (Zach Galligan) is given a pet who comes with three very specific rules for taking care of him. The pet is a gremlin, specifically the lovable Gizmo (voiced by none other than Howie Mandel). The rules are as follows: don’t feed him after midnight, don’t get him wet, and no bright lights. All three are eventually, and inadvertently, broken, causing Gizmo to reproduce and spawn evil, green, reptilian counterparts– evil gremlins, if you will, who wreak havoc on Billy’s small town. They’re more like punk-rock pests than they are mini-Godzillas of any kind, but they are genuinely horrifying as well as being genuinely humorous in their actions.

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The film is popcorn fodder at its best and brightest– smart but also undeniably silly. Almost every way in which the evil gremlins frighten the townsfolk is meant, above all else, to make us laugh, but there’s something else about this film that is fun… A kind of glee in feeling disgusted by and even a little bit scared of these fictional monsters, who are so destructive and so comical.The movie is and always will be one of my all time favorites. I was the kind of kid who was into horror movies and all things ghoulish, but as a kid, you still want there to be humor and a sense that this is just too preposterous to ever be real (although I’m sure most kids, like myself, wanted a Gizmo of their very own and would swear to never break any of the three rules).

And yet, as a young adult, the film still holds up, nostalgia not withstanding. It has moments that might go over a child’s head (hence the need for that parental guidance). And the visual effects that went into creating these evil gremlins are actually quite creepy and thus gloriously effective. It is for all these reasons and more that the film doesn’t seem overly corny or outdated even today; imaginative and endlessly enjoyable to watch, Gremlins is one of the great unexpected, oddball/black sheep treasures of popular cinema. Its legacy as such has lasted this long and won’t be fading anytime soon, as far as I’m concerned.

For all the other wonderful posts from the blogosphere that Forgotten Films will be sponsoring and promoting as part of his 1984-a-thon, I encourage you to click here and marvel in the awesomeness of that year in film. Thank you all for reading and to Todd once again for letting me revisit a film that I love so much. 

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