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Gremlins

Year: 1984
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Joe Dante
Producer: Steven Spielberg/Michael Finnell
Writer: Chris Columbus
Cast: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, Polly Holliday, Corey Feldman, Dick Miller, Judge Rheinhold
One of the seminal movies of my teenage years, it holds a fairly strong place in popular culture. Just ask anyone what it is you don't feed after midnight...

Director Joe Dante had been around forever but was bought into the Amblin/Spielberg fold, and you can see Spielberg's influence everywhere; from the sci-fi theme to the Capra-like small town USA setting.

Billy Peltzer (Galligan, who went nowhere despite what must have been enormous opportunities after this kind of exposure) had an okay job at the bank, a bad crush on friend Kate (Cates, another talent that went nowhere), and an annoying overseer in Gerry (Rheinhold).

When his Dad, an inventor, comes home with a special present that can't wait until Christmas, Billy makes friends with Gizmo, a puppet-like animal from a species called the Mogwai.

But Gizmo was never supposed to have been sold, the risks of direct sunlight, water and feeding after midnight are too late. And Billy (despite what the tagline said, he didn't actually ignore the warnings – the water was an accident, and the clock was a trick by Gizmo's evil offspring) unwittingly unleashes it all.

The quiet little Spielbergian town descends into chaos as the Mogwai's terrible progeny – Gremlins – are let loose on Kingston Falls, and it's up to Billy and Kate to stop it all.

It's kind of trippy to look back on the effects nowadays, done completely by puppetry, stop-motion animation and animatronics in the pre CGI era, and the final result is a great and fun movie; cute, likeable and just thrilling enough.

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