"It's the end of the world as we know it...and I feel fine..." - REM
Guten Tag my dear infernal ones! It is I Herr Doktor your guide down the path of the left hand! And today I bring you Joe Dante's classic of fun, lunacy, and exploding creatures....Gremlins! I know I am supposed to be a reviewer of straight horror films, but this madcap film of absolute chaos is one of my all time favorites. This film in the summer of 1984 (along with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) brought along so much controversy it spurred the creation of the new rating of PG-13.
The film starts off mellow enough with a traveling salesman/inventor (played by the late Hoyt Axton) looking for a last minute Christmas gift for his teenage son. He encounters a shop of wonder and awe. He is led there by a young boy who is closely related to the owner. The owner resembles an ancient and wise sage like man who regards the man with a smile of knowing. It is here that Dad is presented with a Mogwai but is told the creature is not for sale at any price. A wink and a bribe later the young boy brings out the cute little guy, money and a set of instructions change hands, and the movie begins...
Guys, I love this movie, I cannot lie. It has the awesome feel of the 80's; it has comedy, pure insanity in the form of marauding hell-bent creatures descending on suburbia, and even romance for the ladies! It has cute little Gizmo (to fill seats and sell a million dolls in stores by x-mas), the evil twisted Stripe and his army of pure clusterfudge, and you even get to see a mean old lady (this xmas story's Scrooge) get her well deserved comeuppance. The action is cool, the story has a positive moral backdrop, and you get to see some badass little monsters raise hell and blow the hell out of everything! In my opinion the tavern scene as well as Billy's Mom nuking one unfortunate defenseless gremlin in the microwave is worth the price of admission. It's quite possible we have all seen this film in one form or the other. The real question is: is it worth it to me to buy this on BLU-RAY, or should I simply keep my old DVD? Let's talk business...
Video Presentation: 4 out of 5
This film was presented on a 1080p/240htz refresh rate LCD monitor which presents most film in their best light possible. I thought this film was reformatted as well as we are likely to ever see again. The story takes place in winter, so a lot of crisp whites simply pop from the screen. The many colors shown in the movie theatre scene towards the end saturate nicely and do not blur or fade. It is obvious these folks painstakingly restored this film so it looks great. Now I must also admit that that this film IS a quarter century old. That being said it will not be as perfect as a digital to digital transfer. Some of the dark scenes such as the night sky you see some blurring, but to be fair it is very mild. The film has a little bit of an issue with deep blacks, but nothing to really worry about. Pretty darn good.
Audio Presentation: 4 out of 5
Not a bad audio presentation either, as it appears the restoration team put in hard work on this aging soundtrack as well as the video. The dialogue is crystal clear, and free of any distortion. It picks up Stripe's hiss-like dialogue easily so there is no mistake the little bastard was up to no good! This is also an action film of sorts, which means there is a strong action soundtrack. This means explosions which will test your subwoofer, and fight scenes which will give your rear channels a workout. Unfortunately this film was recorded in 2-channel analog Stereo, and had to be re-formatted to a 5.1 channel track. You will notice a difference between this and a new release in which a film today is digitally recorded in surround mode from the start. It sounds awesome for a film this age, and while it might not be reference quality, I really don't see it sounding any better. Again an impressive overall audio presentation.
Overall: I thought this film was well restored and put together well. If you love this classic or simply are curious and want to see this for the first time, Blu-Ray is the way to go. I would say it is worth it to add this to your growing BLU-RAY collection, and sell or trade your old DVD.