We’re usually taught to respect our elders, but there have been plenty of characters in film who never quite got that memo. There’s a long and proud tradition in movies of elderly abuse and bad doings being transgressed on the 4:30 dinner crowd. This is the generation that did things like survive the Great Depression, fight the Nazis (and the Reds!), raise our parents and all too often us. One would think they’d earned a bit of consideration like guaranteed Social Security, adult diapers that don’t leak or generally not getting the shit beat out of them and snuffed like some third-rate red shirt. In this CHUD list, we’re going to take a look at a batch of old timers who, unfortunately, turned into having-a-really-bad-timers.
The Film: Gremlins (1984)
The Director: Joe Dante
The Elder: Mrs. Deagle (Polly Holiday)
The crusty old rich bitch and resident Scrooge of Kingston Falls. She didn’t like excuses, especially from people who rented from her. She wore too much makeup and a bad red wig and continually threatened the life of Billy Peltzer’s dog. When she’s first seen, she’s in the process of telling the Harris family that she’s going to kick them out of their house for not paying rent on time…and just in time for Christmas. Also, she was the resident crazy cat lady and and generally wasn’t a very nice person.
The Abuse: Rocket chair to oblivion.
At the height of the Gremlin shenanigans, she made the mistake of seeking refuge upstairs, which she could only get to by way of her automated old people chair lift. Add in a little Gremlin power boosting of the device and she’s on the stairway to heaven…at Ludicrous Speed. Actually, though, she probably got off easier than she would have had she followed through on her Christmas caroler greeting of tossing a bucket of water on them.
Lack Of Respect By: Gremlins
Those titular evil little bastards after a post-midnight feeding and in full fuck-up-everything mode. At least they were nice enough to sing a Christmas carol before they did her in. But that’s not to say that the Gremlins had disrespect for only the elderly…because they disrespected everybody, even themselves. Stripe was the head bastard, and he did shit like using Gizmo for target practice, trying to kill Billy’s mother, beating the hell out of Billy in the department store and even shooting one of his own when he caught him cheating at cards. And it’s doubtful that anybody’s going to be swimming in the pool at the YMCA until that thing gets a thorough cleaning. All of his Gremlin buddies (children? clones?) tore up a bar and didn’t even bother to tip Kate, they trashed the Futtermans’ joint (and the Futtermans?) with a piece of industrial machinery and essentially lowered the property values in Kingston Falls permanently in one night.
Did She Have It Coming? The Gremlins have the same opinion as William Munny: We all have it comin’. But in Mrs. Deagle’s case, let’s just say that there probably weren’t going to be too many people at her funeral. And far less if the Gremlins had kept the party going beyond one night.
Could the AARP Have Helped? Not unless there was a phalanx of them in full riot gear with portable halogen floodlights, no. Before the Gremlins decided to take in a show at the local theatre, they were redecorating Kingston Falls toward the decidedly post-apocalyptic. So it wasn’t the AARP that would have been needed, it would have been FEMA…or better yet, the Marines.
If Nature Had Taken Its Course? Mrs. Deagle’s heart would have probably given out within a few years, maybe sooner. And since she wasn’t exactly the most well-liked person in town, she would have laid around her house for a few days decomposing, probably turning into a buffet for her starving cats. Of course, she also could have ended up in jail for cruelty to animals.
What Andy Rooney Might Say: Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t really get the whole thing with Gremlins. Destructive monsters who start off as cute, furry little darlings. It’s hard for me to imagine anything that had the reputation of bringing down airplanes could look like a cross between a Tribble and a Ferbie. Back during the War, the flyboys I knew didn’t joke about Gremlins. I knew Joe Kennedy, Jr. and Glenn Miller, and they certainly didn’t consider them a laughing matter. In 1943, the three of us caught a movie where the Bugs Bunny short, “Falling Hare” played. Joe Kennedy got up and left halfway through. And Miller came out of it white as a sheet. I didn’t think that was very funny.
And what about the rules concerning Gremlins? Who came up with these? Was it a committee? Was there due process in the decision? Or some sort of referendum? Because it seems a bit far-fetched to me. Rule 1: Keep them out of bright light? So what does that mean they are exactly? Vampires? Why would anyone find that cute? I’ve met a few albinos in my time and I’m sure they wouldn’t find that funny. I don’t think it’s very funny. Rule 2: Keep them out of water. The last time I checked, all life needed water to exist. And does that mean that they can’t eat anything with water in it? Excuse me, but don’t most potable liquids have water in them? How does that work exactly? And did anyone notice that, since Gremlins are Chinese, and the Chinese have the highest population in the world, was that some sort of backhanded, passive aggressive statement about Chinese reproductive practices? Because if it is, I don’t think that’s very funny.
And finally, Rule 3: Never feed them after midnight. I’m sorry but, who the fuck came up with this? What about Daylight Savings Time? Does that rule get cut by an hour in the summer? And does this apply to all food? I know some of the Gremlins ate chicken and turned into the monsters, but what about a vegan diet? Is there a calorie count involved in this? I just don’t get why you could feed them at 11:59, but come high midnight, it’s off limits. What if they’re mid-chew when the clock turns? And how long after midnight does that rule last anyway? One hour? Five? Ten? Do you just starve the little buggers to be safe? If so, I don’t think that’d be very funny.
If I had a Mogwai, I’d feed him when I have my dinner: 4:45 PM sharp….
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