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Gremlins: Special Edition

There are three simple rules:

  1. Don't expose them to bright light
  2. Don't get them wet
  3. Never, ever let them eat after midnight

There's an unspoken fourth rule as well: 4) There's no movie if all three rules aren't broken. These rules apply to the Mogwai, or as they become after being fed after midnight, Gremlins. And this 1984 film has become something of a family classic, even though it features a lot of violence for a PG-rated title, a slow moving opening hour, and one of the most surreal midsections of a Hollywood hit. The film stars Zach Galligan as Billy Pitzer, a struggling cartoonist who works at a bank, and whose bumbling inventor father (Hoyt Axton) buys him a Mogwai named Gizmo (voiced by Howie Mandel) for Christmas. With the three rules in place, it takes a while for the second to be broken, which causes Gizmo to produce offspring — but the new creatures are trouble-starters and don't get along with Gizmo at all. And because they are more malicious, they break the third rule, which transforms them from furry, playful pals into scaly, evil creatures bent on mass destruction. Well, they're not too evil — like their name, they like being mischievous and disrupting technology. But as they start taking over the town, Gizmo and Billy are the only ones who can defend it — besides, he's got to protect his love-interest Kate (Phoebe Cates). A strange little project executive produced by Steven Spielberg, Gremlins became a smash summer hit and established Joe Dante as a Hollywood director. And — at first — it seems to belong to the Spielberg whimsy factory, as the first hour sets up small-town life with its charming qualities, as well as an evil old rich woman (Polly Holliday) who's a cross between Mr. Potter from It's a Wonderful Life and the Wicked Witch of the West. But once the gremlins hatch, the movie transforms into insane, absurd, and brilliant anarchy as the little buggers take over the movie with their rude stunts. And the more they take over the movie, the more they behavior becomes human, and it becomes more obvious who Dante likes directing more: He even shows that the only thing that calms them is a screening of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Warner Brother's third DVD release of Gremlins is the first to be a special edition, and it appears definitive. The film is presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) with audio in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Surround. Extras include two audio commentaries, one with Dante and actors Galligan, Cates, Dick Miller, and Mandel, the second with Dante, producer Mike Finnell, and Gremlins effects guy Chris Walas. There's also a behind-the-scenes featurette (8 min.), ten minutes of additional scenes (some of which have shown in the TV cut of the movie) with optional commentary, a still gallery, filmographies, the theatrical and reissue trailer for this movie, and a teaser for Gremlins 2: The New Batch. Snap-case.

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