In recent years, the internet has collectively decided that Love Actually is the worst Christmas movie, and Die Hard is the best Christmas movie.
Neither of these statements are true.
Love Actually is bad, gross, and everyone in the film is a terrible, selfish person, but have you seen Deck the Halls? Now there’s a bad Christmas movie. As for Die Hard: look, I’m not going to offer the ultimate hot take and say Die Hard sucks, because it doesn’t; Die Hard is a perfect action movie, maybe the perfect action movie, and I watch it (and Muppet Christmas Carol — don’t judge) every December. But it’s barely a Christmas movie. The film takes place during an office Christmas party, and Alan Rickman’s line-reading of “ho ho ho” should have won him an Oscar, but the holiday isn’t an integral part of the plot. Die Hard could have just as easily been set on Independence Day or Halloween. It’s not even snowing! All Christmas movies should have snow.
The horror-comedy classic Gremlins has snow, and it takes place around Christmas, and there are Christmas trees, and a monologue involving Santa, and a Darlene Love song, and the basic plot is “dad buys his son a Christmas present.” That, along with the Looney Tunes-inspired mischief the Gremlins get into (especially that rascal Spike) and how screenwriter Joe Dante alternates between loving and hating Christmas, is why Gremlins is the best Christmas movie. And there’s no better scene in the best Christmas movie than the bar scene. There are so many Gremlins to look at, and so many hijinks ensuing at once, that I slowed down the antics to rank the 10 best Gremlins in Dory’s Tavern (minus Spike; he’s better in the department store, anyway).
Die Hard is great, but it doesn’t have a Gremlin dressed like Humphrey Bogart.
10. Fan-Swinging Gremlin
The first Gremlin we see in Dory’s Tavern is also one of the rowdiest. It swings around on a rotating ceiling fan, and wears a festive Santa hat. Now that’s one party animal I want to hang with. How do you think it got up there? My money’s on some other Gremlin, possibly the snot-picking one, tossed it.
9. Flashdance Gremlin
Well there’s a girl that lives up the block
Back in school she could turn all the boy’s heads
Sometimes on a Friday I’ll stop by
And have a few drinks after she put her kids to bed
Her and her husband Bobby well they split up
I guess it’s two years gone by now
We just sit around talking about the old times
She says when she feels like crying
She starts laughing thinking bout glory days
That — the lyrics to Bruce Springsteen’s depressingly nostalgic “Glory Days” — would be Flashdance Gremlin’s life, if it had lived. Back in the 1980s, it delighted everyone with it’s then-topical antics and Jennifer Beals-inspired moves. But Flashdance Gremlin never added anything to the routine, and 30 years later, it’s still dancing to “Flashdance… What a Feeling” in front of disinterested barflies. The glory days are gone. Flashdance Gremlin had to die. It’s better to burn out in a movie theater than to fade away.
8. Beer Gremlin
The more beer Beer Gremlin drinks, the more it’s stomach expands, like a 10-second pregnancy. Gremlins don’t give birth like humans, so an enlarged-belly is the closest the species will come to finding a common ground. There’s so much we could have accomplished together, like finally bringing Snow White and the Seven Gremlins to the big-screen. Then we blew it up, Planet of the Apes-style. (I would also watch Escape from the Planet of the Gremlins.)
7. Smoking Gremlins
I really like the Smoking Gremlins, especially the one with three cigarettes in its mouth, and want to put them higher, but my dude in the middle ends up getting everyone killed. Kate discovers that the Gremlins fear fire and bright lights when she tries to light Smoking Gremlin #1’s cigarette, and it recoils. That’s when she starts taking flash photos of the flasher (more on that one soon) and escapes. The Smoking Gremlins probably didn’t even give her a tip.
6/5. Bogart and Hand Puppet Gremlin
Hand Puppet is the Lauren Bacall to Bogart Gremlin’s, well, Humphrey Bogart. They’re great apart, but they’re even better together; it’s a romance for the ages. Bogart Gremlin tries to play it cool, with his cigarette, hat, jazz, and moping demeanor, but deep down, it knows that it’s nothing without Hand Puppet Gremlin’s silliness. It’s what keeps it grounded. Notice how much time passes before Bogart Gremlin hits Hand Puppet Gremlin on the head with a mallet — it’s enraptured before remembering, you always hurt the ones you love.
4. Barber Pole Gremlin
What’s it doing back there? How did it get up there? Does it not drink? Is it a social outcast? In another life, was it’s father a barber, and this is it’s way of connecting with it’s roots? Is it having a existential criss about the meaning of life, and how when you think about it, we’ll all just a bubble on Gizmo’s back? On the “which Gremlin are you?” quiz, I’m definitely Barber Pole Gremlin.
3. Deagle Gremlin
I’ve probably seen Gremlins about a dozen times, but it was only after my most recent viewing did I realize that the Gremlin on the right isn’t dressed like any lady; it’s specifically impersonating Mrs. Deagle, the cold-hearted coot who died after her wheelchair lift went flying out the window. According to my new homepage, the Gremlins Wiki, “The fact that this Gremlin wears Deagle’s clothes and tries to speak just like a woman hints at the fact that this is the one who who had killed Deagle, presumably stealing some of her belongings afterwards… Remember, Gremlins are asexual, therefore, this Gremlin is not really cross-dressing.” (That’s why I’ve been using “it” as a pronoun.) Also, Deagle Gremlin and Spike are #RelationshipGoals.
2. Mugger Gremlin
While the rest of the Gremlins threaten Kate by throwing bowls at her, Mugger Gremlin straight-up tries to shoot her in the face. That’s stone-cold. It wasn’t even trying to steal anything from her — it just wanted Kate dead. Another fun Gremlins Wiki fact: “When Gremlins aired on the Hub (now Discovery Family), the entire scene where it ambushed Kate was removed.” Other Gremlins are comically evil; Mugger Gremlin is legitimately terrifying.
1. Flasher Gremlin
So many things had to go right for Flasher Gremlin to live up to its name. First, despite only being, like, 24 hours old, it needed to be aware of its genitalia. Then, it needed to recognize that exposing yourself in public is frowned upon. Then, it had to buy a pervert trench coat. And then finally, it had to look for a pair of shades. Thankfully, for everyone except Phoebe Cates, that is, everything came together perfectly. Flasher Gremlin is the best Gremlin, and Gremlins is the best Christmas movie. Happy holidays, everyone.