FILM: Gremlins (12A)

Joe Dante’s delicious black comedy returns to cinemas this week, promising laughs and a few shocks as young Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan) fails to take proper care of his Christmas present, a fluffy, singing Mogwai called Gizmo, given to him by his inventor father Randall (Hoyt Axton).

The rules are simple enough: keep Gizmo away from bright light, don’t expose the cuddly critter to water and never, ever feed him after midnight.

Billy violates all three rules and unleashes an army of diabolical creatures on his picture-postcard community of Kingston Falls, jeopardising his family and girlfriend Kate (Phoebe Cates).

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Vicious spinster Mrs Deagle (Polly Holliday) suffers most grievously after an ill-fated ride on her stair-lift but that’s what you get for being a mean-spirited crone.

Directed with verve and laced with macabre, twisted humour, Gremlins is quintessential festive fare that stands up extremely well almost 30 years after its initial release.

Kate’s heartfelt confession about her reasons for hating Christmas epitomise the script’s macabre humour and Dante certainly doesn’t stint on the gloop and gore as Stripe and his evil gremlins are dispatched in a microwave or orange juicer.

Eagle-eyed viewers should be able to spot executive producer Steven Spielberg’s cameo at the beginning of the film.

Released: December 7 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas), 106 mins