When Gremlins hit theaters in 1984, the term horror-comedy wasn’t widely used or even understood. An American Werewolf in London, for example, is an incredibly humorous flick, but you wouldn’t know that unless you saw it, as the marketing made it looks like straight-up horror. So when the marketing push for Gremlins made it look like a family comedy, parents brought their kids expecting a light-hearted romp.
The tonal shift in the second half of Gremlins led to serious backlash and was a contributing factor in the creation of a PG-13 rating. While horror comedy is now a well-known subgenre, there are few films that strike the exact balance of Gremlins, making it an enduring franchise that continues to amass new fans decades after its release.
In a recent episode of his Screen Smart series, Ryan Hollinger explores what makes Gremlins so outstanding. He points out that comedy and horror are not polar opposites that need to be reconciled; rather, as both genres are essentially amoral, they work in unison to communicate emotional complexities.
Give The Art of GREMLINS: How Comedy & Horror Work Together as spin below and let us know what you think in the Comments section. Then, for kicks, check out the trailer and synopsis for Gremlins, directed by Joe Dante and starring Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, and Hoyt Axton below that. Enjoy!
Official Synopsis: Screen Smart is a show celebrating Ryan’s love for film, games, art and entertainment through personal retrospective analysis that aims to explore what made them so good.
About Ryan Hollinger on YouTube: Taking my favourite movies, games, art and entertainment and celebrating them with a personal retrospective analytical treatment that both informs and delights as non-ugly as possible. Let’s just talk about cool things.
Official Synopsis: A gadget salesman is looking for a special gift for his son and finds one at a store in Chinatown. The shopkeeper is reluctant to sell him the “mogwai” but sells it to him with the warning to never expose him to bright light, water, or to feed him after midnight. All of this happens and the result is a gang of gremlins that decide to tear up the town on Christmas Eve.
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