Gremlins (1984)

One of the most enduring and charming Christmas classics of my childhood, “Gremlins” was directed by Joe Dante, but this is pure Steven Spielbergian cinema from the first few frames: The idyllic small-town nostalgia, the purer-than-water lead characters, the distinctive score, and the heavy leaning on tradition. All of it works in its favor as the movie plows along with its tale of pesky and petulant creatures running amok on Christmas Eve across a small American town, displaying a surprisingly grisly and gleefully mean-spirited edge along the way that keeps the stakes high. This is a terrifically fun creature-feature Christmas movie for youngsters that has no precedent.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

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