With their broad, pointed ears, Joe Dante’s little reptilian monsters look like a twisted travesty of Christmas elves. Maybe that’s why it’s fitting that they show up in snowbound small town Kingston Falls at Christmastime, as perhaps the most high-maintenance stocking-stuffer ever. Like every puppy, kitten, guinea pig, or duckling that shows up on Christmas morning as a real-life gift for a pet-loving youngster, the Mogwai start out cute and adorable but grow up to tremendous potential nuisances if you don’t treat them right. Poor Zach Galligan gets a simple list of rules of how to care for adorable Gizmo, and he messes it all up within a few hours.
Soon, the mischievous, murderous creatures are at large, making sure the whole town has the most miserable Christmas ever. And if that weren’t enough, there’s Phoebe Cates’ horrific story about how her dad went missing on Christmas Eve, only to have his nine-year-oldl daughter find his corpse, dressed as Santa, stuck in their chimney, with his arms full of presents. Altogether, Gremlins may be the Grinch-iest Christmastime movie ever.