The Bar Scene
Making the Star Wars cantina scene seem sedate by comparison, the gremlins' hedonistic session at Dorry's Tavern is sheer manic genius. The little critters imitate and accentuate drunken human behaviour around the bar, with a lethal card game bossed by Stripe, a 'Mugger Gremlin', 'Flasher Gremlin' and a 'Breakdancer Gremlin' all present!
Mrs Deagle's Stairlift To Hell
The ghastly Mrs Deagle, who is introduced to viewers with a cacophonous leitmotif and desire to kill Billy's dog, receives her comeuppance after the gremlins tamper with the wiring on the old bat's stairlift. If only their technical skills could be put to better use sorting out the signal failure shambles on the London Underground.
Gremlins openly references and features footage from its movie influences, particularly Frank Capra's It's A Wonderful Life, but this metatextual cinema scene emphasises the power of cinema on the viewer. "They're watching Snow White - and they love it," comments Billy as he witnesses the gremlins singing along to 'Hi, ho!". They're better behaved than many members of the public too…
Kate's (Phoebe Cates) monologue that explained her hatred of Christmas provides a startling jolt to the viewer, as she reveals her father died after attempting to climb down the family home's chimney as Santa. It briefly propels the movie from cartoonish sadism into very dark humour – and director Joe Dante had to battle studio execs to keep it in.
Seriously, how cute is Gizmo? Even Barney the dog can't resist an affectionate lick of the mogwai after he emerges from his cage and snuggles up with Billy Peltzer. Heartwarming stuff that brilliantly paves the way for the subversive shenanigans that ensue…
The Kitchen Scene
"Get out of my kitchen!" screamed Lynn Pelter when she discovered the freshly hatched gremlins in there. She meant it, as she wields her knife with the gusto of Norman Bates - although other culinary items are deployed. Have microwaves and blenders ever been put to more effective use?
Stripe Is Born
Is Billy Peltzer the worst animal owner since Cruella de Vil? Despite being given clear instructions after receiving Gizmo, he fails to prevent him being instantly exposed to bright lights and soon has to wrap a bandage round the mogwai's head after he falls in a bin. Before long, Cory Feldman pops along to perform the most dangerous feat in his career until he appeared on Dancing On Ice - spilling water on Gizmo…
The deadliest bit of wood in cinema until Dirk Diggler entered proceedings, the Christmas tree attack is a great piece of visual invention as the glowing Gremlin eyes are camouflaged perfectly by the surrounding decorative lights. This scene could well have inspired a similar scenario in the 2005 Doctor Who festive special 'The Christmas Invasion'.
Gizmo Defeats Stripe
Having spent much of the movie in a passive role, Gizmo turns into the saviour when he jumps into a pink toy car, almost mows down Barney (which would have delighted Mrs Deagle) and launches an audacious bid to strike light down upon Stripe before he multiplies! How can anyone not love Gizmo?
Gremlins Go Caroling
It's only fitting to end on a Christmassy note. They may sound like Britney Spears minus autotune and resemble The Rolling Stones in harsh lighting, but these gremlins give it their all on Mrs Deagle's doorstep. Surely in today's environment of mass-market commercialisation, a 'Gremlins Sing Christmas Carols' CD would be a viable tie-in?
Gremlins returns to UK cinemas on Friday, December 7. Do not watch after midnight.
> Read our review of 'Gremlins'