Anghus Houvouras presents an outlandish new theory on Gremlins…
Gremlins has been on cable a lot lately, and I started noticing something the more I watched. Was this silly, enjoyable little monster movie a thinly veiled attempt at warning us about the “Red Menace” of Communist China? At first, it sounds crazy. Actually, it still sounds crazy no matter how much you say it, but let’s take a look.
We first meet a Gremlin in a mysterious little shop in Chinatown. You have the typical American dad trying to buy his son a gift. Despite countless warnings to the contrary, the greedy American father takes the gift in spite of the possible danger and peril in accepting this gift.
The cute, harmless Gremlin is a personification of the “harmless” money we’ve been accepting from China. Like the money we’ve been accepting from China, the Gremlin comes with conditions. Don’t get it wet… Don’t feed them after midnight…
Of course, the irresponsible Americans end up making grave errors, and a simple harmless gift soon transforms into something horrible… Now we end up with these terrible, multiplying monsters that terrorize the community.
“Crazy”, you might be saying, and at first it seems that way. But then take a look at the mayhem that ensues and how director Joe Dante shows these violent terrors attacking the American Way.
Our first real encounter with the transformed, destructive Gremlins takes place in suburbia where they attack one of the tenants of American Society: Mom. Mom puts up a good fight. Eventually the fight moves from the kitchen to the living room where another iconic staple of American life is attacked: the Christmas Tree. In this scene, we are shown the Godless communists attacking an American institution: Christmas.
So you have the basic premise that China is offering us a gift that comes with perilous conditions. We disregard the warnings, and soon are besieged by an attack on not only our lives, but our way of life.
The finale takes things to a more literal place, staged entirely in a department store: the very symbol of capitalism. Where the horrible creatures that we can’t seem to control are finally dispatched. And then, our old friend from Chinatown returns to reclaim the “gift”, telling us that we’re “not yet ready” for this kind of responsibility.
Was Gremlins just a fun little horror film, or was executive producer Steven Spielberg trying to warn us about the dangers of borrowing from China?