A comic horror movie classic.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Review Date: August 4, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 1984
  • Running Time: 106 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable

Gremlins gruesomely kill people -- and vice versa.

Not applicable

Moderate bathroom and religiously themed expletives.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Gremlins smoke, drink like fish, and gamble with abandon.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Gremlins has many scary scenes, including a mom chopping up a Gremlin with a kitchen knife, a Gremlin-in-blender, and indelible Gremlin-in-microwave scenes. Parents and movie buffs alike may be interested to know that, along with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Gremlins prompted the creation of the PG-13 rating. Also, a heads' up: Even though this movie isn't intended for kids young enough to really still want to believe in Santa, just in case: Phoebe Cates' character gives a memorable speech about how she found out that St. Nick wasn't real.

What's the story?

In the heart of Chinatown, Billy's dotty dad discovers a Mogwai (mog-why) and buys it as a Christmas present for him. Billy loves his sweet furry pet Gizmo, but disregards the basic rules of owning a Mogwai. Gizmo spawns nasty offspring, and the new creatures immediately go wild, dispatching a science teacher and tearing up the house. Billy and his mom are forced to destroy the little suckers. The mayhem looks under control until Spike, the malicious Gremlin leader, hops into the school swimming pool and multiplies exponentially. Soon the whole town is under attack. In the end, Billy and his girlfriend Kate (Phoebe Cates) blow up the town theater with the Gremlins inside. Just when the plot seems predictably laid out, the movie transforms into something else -- something much worse. The monsters mutate, and you just don't see the nastiness coming.

Is it any good?


This hit from the 1984 has lost none of its ability to frighten and entertain. Both a dark comedy and a cultural commentary, GREMLINS adds up to much more than a monster flick. Although they grow meaner, the Gremlins possess a sick sense of humor that establishes the twisted comic tone. Visually, the movie is also filled with fun touches, like a "Have a Safe and Happy Holiday" sign shown while a science teacher is rather indelicately butchered.

The special effects are also convincing if not original: Gizmo looks a bit like an Ewok from Star Wars, and the Gremlin pods seem lifted directly from Alien. Gremlins even attempts a message by exploring the evils of mid-'80s corporate culture: human acquisitiveness and the drive to conquer and control nature. In the end, the old Chinese man who sold Billy's dad the Mogwai returns to sum it up: "You do with Mogwai what your society has done with all of nature's gifts. You are not ready."

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's message. What do you think the point was? Do most horror movies have messages? What are some others you can think of?

  • Do you think this movie is intended to appeal to kids? Why or why not?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 8, 1984
DVD release date:September 30, 1997
Cast:Hoyt Axton, Phoebe Cates, Zach Galligan
Director:Joe Dante
Studio:Warner Bros.
Topics:Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
Run time:106 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:scary situations and mild violence

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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 9 year old Written byJanna October 11, 2009

It's OK, if your kids don't believe in Santa!

It's been awhile since I have seen this movie. My 9 year old does not scare easily and I new she would love the cute little Gremlin that never changed. However, I deeply regret showing this movie to my daughter who still holds onto a belief in Santa Claus. There is a scene where a young woman is telling her boyfriend why she hates Christmas. She explains her father died in her chimney when he was dressed as Santa attempting to surprise her one Christmas. The woman states, "That's how I found out there is no Santa Claus". My daughter was very upset by this. If your children still believe in Santa, don't show them this movie!
Adult Written bys-k July 24, 2009

Depends on the child

My 6 yr old and I watched this movie when he was 5 and he loved it so much he begs to let him watch it over and over. We discussed it in great length, he knows movies aren't real, never has nightmares, knows he's not allowed to use adult language and he laughs at most of it because the 'gremlins' aren't real, now he can pretty much tell me the whole story, and somehow the 'Santa' reference gets unnoticed every time he watches. Every child is different and has a different level of comprehension, it should ultimately be up to the parent to know their child well enough to know what they can handle and what they can't. I never considered this a 'horror' flick ever and actually told my son when we watched it that it's a super funny movie and laughed during most of it myself - ergo why he laughs at most of it. It's important for parents to always watch any kind of movie for the first time with their child and to really know their child. I know dozens of kids I wouldn't dream of letting watch this movie but I know my own kid and know he can handle it. And I was going to be one of those parents who censored everything and sheltered my kid from all of these things, only to find out that won't help him in the long run. There has to be open discussion about everything and the younger the better.
Adult Written byclimb4time2 April 9, 2008

Different as an adult than I remembered it as a Kid

I did remember the comical violence and mean-spirited mischief of the gremlins. I thought that would be okay. What I didn't remember was the swearing (some things I think would have earned it a pg13 now. Also there is an instance where the main female character reveals a yucky-to-kids Christmas situation from her past. She should have ended with, "That's when I stopped liking Christmas," rather than what she did say (specific thought about the man in red.) The movie doesn't do anything to redeem that line and it doesn't add or detract from the story.


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