Shake the Scene: Gremlins

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Gremlins (1984)

The Scene: When Billy, Kate and Gizmo take refuge in the bank for a few moments, and Kate explains to Billy why she doesn’t celebrate Christmas: Because years ago her dad died trying to come down the chimney dressed as Santa.

Why This Scene Is So Messed Up: Gremlins is (are?) great, full of fun, action, suspense and terror. But you can almost hear the movie’s brakes being slammed when this scene comes up. Not only do we violently shift gears from Gremlin mayhem in the streets to some quiet talking, the story itself is jarring and depressing. What Kate went through finding her dead father in the chimney, dressed as Santa no less, is just way over the top. And not just that Kate found him, she smelled his rotting corpse first, which makes it worse. (And you can see the wheels turning in Billy’s head as he’s listening, like he’s thinking, “Holy shit, maybe I should rethink trying to get with this messed up chick…”) The story could have just been that she hates Christmas because her dad ran off with another woman Christmas morning or something like that, but that’s just not f-ed up enough for Joe Dante and company. That being said, Kate, your dad was a f*cking idiot. Seriously, how could he possibly think that shimmying his way down a chimney was a good idea? How would that have resulted in anything but serious injury or death? And even if he did make it down safely, was he going to climb back up again somehow? I’m surprised he didn’t hoist some reindeer up on the roof, planning to fly off afterward. There’s no way Kate’s dad wasn’t completely hammered on absinthe egg nog when he executed this ridiculously stupid plan. Well, at least his heart was in the right place, although his family probably would have preferred that it was still beating. So Merry Christmas to you, Kate’s dad, you numbnuts.

12 thoughts on “Shake the Scene: Gremlins

  1. The scene is a small tribute to the old Creepy or Eerie comics. A lot of them would end with this horrible twist in the same fashion as the story Kate tells Billy about her dad.

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  2. I love that part of the film! It would have been even better as a flashback – the fire department tearing down the chimney brick by brick to reveal… rotted corpse dad! Actually, your right, it was a little jarring for the fun movie that surrounded it.

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  3. This scene is brilliant because it gave me the greatest idea for prank to play when I have kids. When they’re being noisy and bratty at Christmas I’ll dress up as Santa, go onto the roof, and then when the kids look out the window I’ll throw a mannequin dressed as Santa off the roof. It’ll border on child cruelty but it’ll be hilarious nonetheless.

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