Oh dear lord, The Gremlin.
Here’s the story behind this one. I was hanging out with my friend Dave, and we wanted to watch a movie. We looked through the free streaming videos available through Amazon Prime, and found what we thought would be a hilarious bad movie called The Gremlin. We weren’t disappointed…for the most part. Even at 78 minutes, the movie has more than its share of boring moments, but it is still both intentionally campy and unintentionally hilarious in equal parts. Just don’t show it to your friends unless you’re sure they’ll enjoy it, because the wrong crowd might kill you before it ends.
The movie begins with us hearing a story told by this guy:
The story is about a “man” known as The Gremlin who lived peacefully in the woods…at least for a while. See, now he’s a spook, who goes around spooking. But before that, he was a prisoner in some guy’s house. Naturally, The Gremlin manages to escape, during which we get to see more of his ass than we do Tommy Wiseau’s in The Room. He eventually finds an appropriate outfit though:
The Gremlin makes it out to the woods, then appears to kill a couple camping there. We then meet our main cast: five crazy kids who are spending their last summer together before going away to college or whatever. They probably have names, but who cares? Your cast photo:
In case you’re wondering, the one dude’s shirt says “Things to Do: 1) Your Sister 2) Your Mom.” He’s the asshole! He uses lots of gay slurs! We also have the straight shooting leader and the funny guy. Oh, and the girls, who are girls.
Actually, despite what I said earlier, these characters have some great names. Our main cast includes Steve Duke Chochington III, Arnie McGuilicuty, Becky Stromboli and Pete Peterman. Later on, we meet a character named Mark Just Mark. It doesn’t get more creative than that.
The group heads to a gas station to fill up for their trip. They pick up a box of Gremlin O’s, and they have the story of the Gremlin told to them by this winner:
We’re not even 15 minutes in yet.
The group makes it to the woods and takes their gear to the campsite before it gets dark. There, they meet the old man from the start of the movie, who warns them of the dangerous Gremlin that resides in the forest. Here’s a nice close up of the costuming you’ll come to expect from this fine production:
He warns them that they will be “spooked to death,” but the kids don’t believe him. Except for one of the girls who suddenly decides she’s too spooked and wanders off. Bye, character!
The remaining four kids reach the campsite and have a camping montage, complete with the campiest camp song that ever did camp. The lyrics, as best I could make them out:
Summer camping, with my friends
And we’re driving along pitchin’ a tent
Yeah we’re pitchin’, pitchin’ that tent
Roastin’ all those mar’los
On the campfire that we just built
And we’re roastin’, and just hangin’ out as friends
Hangin’ out as friends, driving along and
roastin’, All those wieners,
Under the summer sun and the night sky,
Hangin’ out, maybe crack a few beers and hang out,
With my friends, under that summer night
Oh the stars are bright!
Out under the woods of Springfield, Ohio
Oh we’re hangin’ out, eatin’ wieners and mar’los
With my frieeeeeeeends
Oh we’re drivin’ around with my friends!
Oh my friends!
It’s a glorious summer! Summer of friends! We’re all friends! And it’s the summer of friends! With our wieners! And mar’los!
The old man meets the Gremlin, who is upset that he couldn’t get spook the kids to get them to leave the woods. This movie really likes the word spook, by the way. The Gremlin kicks him out of the forest, and resolves to take care of the unwanted campers on his own.
As night falls, the kids begin telling stories. One talks about “Zoe, the Tree Woman,” who is some sort of mischievous forest spirit who kidnaps dogs, then returns them two days later with notes. He really wants to sleep with her, of course. Then she shows up out of nowhere!
Just roll with it – it’s that kind of movie. I originally thought Zoe was played by the same actress that played the girl who wandered off earlier, because that girl’s name was Lindsey, which is also the name of the actress who plays Zoe. But nope: completely different actress. I guess they just decided to write Lindsey out of the movie after 20 minutes or so.
Chochington tells a story about the Gremlin, which Zoe confirms to be true, making everyone else wonder why he waited until the middle of the night to tell them this. Pissed off, he wanders off to have a beer, which leads to our first Gremlin attack: he sneaks up on Choch and uses his crotch to push the beer can into Choch’s throat, slicing him open. Then he says that he just wants the kids out of his woods for good. For good. For good. For good. Here’s a file photo of the Gremlin celebrating:
The Gremlin then literally dances on some graves while doing a little beatboxing. Yup.
Arnie and Zoe start to get it on in the tent while Pete and Becky take a lake walk, conveniently leaving everyone vulnerable to Gremlin attacks. Sure enough, the Gremlin sneaks up on Arnie, managing to slice him clean in half with some kind of wire. This leads to an extended sequence of the Gremlin vomiting. You know, that one is really your own fault, Mr. Gremlin. Then, to show the kids he doesn’t want to hurt them, he tries to glue Arnie back together.
But Zoe wants revenge, leading to a duel for the woods! Despite her cool sais, Zoe is no match for The Gremlin, who manages to kill her in under a second by ripping her heart clean out of her chest. Granted, she’s clearly still breathing while she’s lying on the forest floor, but she’s supposed to be dead.
Most of the rest of the movie features Pete and Becky attempting to escape from the woods before the Gremlin can kill them. Well, there’s also an interlude where The Gremlin learns he has “lost his spook,” and gets the crap kicked out of him by Pete, and so decides that he needs to “get his spook back.” Just like Stella got her groove back, he says.
How does he do this? By going through a training montage where he receives lessons from “The Ghouls” a group of three spooky creatures who can apparently teach him how to spook again. The trio includes a mummy, a vampire and a werewolf, all of whom can traditionally be found in the woods of Ohio.
That’s right, the werewolf is teaching him how to box. Why not? It worked in Teen Wolf Too! After about three minutes, the sequence ends with a freeze frame and its own credits sequence:
I know this review is incredibly disjointed, but that’s nothing compared to the way this film plays out. I’ve left plenty of stuff out, including talking trees, repetitive sound clips and some of the worst effects you’ve ever seen. The characters watch some strange television interview with a serial killer through a window. At one point, The Gremlin delivers the only quote listed on the IMDb page for this movie:
“Wish I had a flashlight…but I don’t.”
Becky wonders why The Gremlin talks to himself, to which Pete says “I think that’s just what dryads do.”
So, yeah, The Gremlin is dumb and absurd, filmed on a super-low budget and intentionally designed to be bad. But while this is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, it still made me and my friend laugh more than a few times. And when I showed The Gremlin to my bad movie group, there were just as many people who loved it as hated it. In fact, I’ve had more than a few requests to see it again, though I haven’t agreed to do so yet – and I’m not sure I ever will.
I can’t say I recommend The Gremlin, because objectively, it’s just a terrible movie – and the fact that it is intentionally bad really doesn’t allow it to qualify for “so bad, it’s good” status. But if you’ve read this far and the screencaps above made you laugh, it’s probably worth investing a little over an hour to check it out. Just remember, kids: stay spooked.