Illustration by Adeline Pericart
Throughout December we’ll be adding more favourite Christmas films we love; so keep an eye on the website and feel free to add any of your own.
‘It was snowing outside, the house was freezing. So I went to try light up the fire… and that’s when I noticed the smell.’ Few cinema moments evoke as strong a sense of Christmas as Phoebe Cates’s childhood story in Gremlins. What it lacks in merriness, it makes up for with a sack full of black humour.
While the gremlins are in full swing on the streets, Billy and Kate take refuge in the ransacked bank. Against a soundtrack of anarchism from outside, an eerie keyboard rendition of ‘Silent Night’ and lit only by the flickering lights of a toppled Christmas tree, Kate recounts her reason for no longer joining in the festive cheer. Thanks to a teaser of Kate’s sensitivity concerning her aversion to Christmas earlier in the film, you cannot help but become completely engrossed along with Billy and Gizmo as the wonderfully horrific story unfolds. Out of context, this story would be tragic in the extreme but following on from the vaudeville bar scene it takes on a kind of surreal comedy. Several cuts to the adorably emotive Gizmo which show his facial expression turn from indifference to confusion to wide-eyed horror further add to the twisted comedy of the scene. The black humour of Gremlins is never more evident than when Kate’s story reaches its climax with the line, ‘And that’s how I found out there was no Santa Claus.’
This scene alone makes Gremlins my festive favourite. As much as we may believe that everyone enjoys this time of year, it’s important to remember Kate’s warning about the less festive among us; ‘While everybody else is opening up their presents, they’re opening up their wrists.’ Wow, that does come across a tad gloomy doesn’t it? I guess you need to see Gremlins in all its gloomy glory to appreciate the sentiment. Or maybe I just need to watch It’s a Wonderful Life again.
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good fright.