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I’ve always thought of GREMLINS ($25) as a cute and fun little fantasy movie with a dark underbelly that gave it a bit of an edge. GREMLINS has certainly proved to be a popular film, so I wasn’t too surprised when it made its appearance on DVD. The plot concerns a none-too-successful inventor who discovers a rare animal, known as a Mogwai, in a mysterious Chinatown shop. The inventor decides to purchase the adorable little Mogwai for his son as a Christmas present, and takes it back home to the small town where he and his family live. Ownership of a Mogwai comes with three important caveats: avoid bright lights- especially sunlight, never get them wet and most importantly, never feed them after midnight.

It doesn’t take long for the rules to get broken. Mixing a Mogwai with water causes them to multiply. Feeding a Mogwai after midnight causes them to transform into mischievous Gremlins. Once the Mogwais turn into Gremlins they go on a rampage and tear up the small town. As nasty as the Gremlins turn out to be, they always seem to find themselves in a situation that turns out to be a funny social satire. Director Joe Dante manages quite a balancing act by keeping the action of the film from turning too ugly, or even worse, too cute. Hoyt Axton is the unsuccessful inventor. Zach Galligan is the film’s nominal hero, the inventor’s son who receives the Mogwai as a present and the only one who can stop the Gremlins when they run amok. Phoebe Cates is the film’s leading lady, who has a heck of a Christmas tale to spin. The cast of GREMLINS also features Polly Holliday, Judge Reinhold, Dick Miller, Corey Feldman, Scott Brady, Jackie Joseph, Harry Carey Jr. and Keye Luke.

Warner Home Video offers GREMLINS in both Letterbox and pan and scan formats on opposite sides of the DVD. The pan and scan transfer crops the frame, which allows characters to fall off the edges of the screen. The pan and scan transfer is acceptable, but nothing too great. Colors are rich, but the image is a bit soft and dark looking. As for the Letterboxed transfer, it isn’t up to Warner’s usual high standard of excellence. The transfer is good, but lacks the crispness and clarity of their most recent offerings. Colors are nicely saturated, but the image is a bit softer and a bit darker than I’m used to. The Letterboxed transfer does restore GREMLINS to its proper theatrical framing, approximately 1.85:1 and the image looks properly balanced.

Warner Home Video has re-mixed GREMLINS into Dolby Digital 5.1 with great results. The channel separation across the front is terrific; it really places one in the film’s environment. The rear channels add ambiance to the proceedings and some directional effects. Other soundtrack options include a matrixed Dolby Surround soundtrack as well as French and Spanish language tracks. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

The interactive menus allow access to a theatrical trailer and production notes as well as cast and crew biographies/filmographies.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1997 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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