What I find interesting about Gremlins is that I always seem to think it’s a Steven Spielberg film, but it’s a Steven Spielberg produced film. It’s directed by Joe Dante (Innerspace, The Burbs, Small Soldiers), who has a history in horror film, but typically ties in comedy so that it’s not so intense. Gremlins definitely has that mark on it, as well as the mark of Spielberg, who Dante admired as a filmmaker, having made his own homage to Jaws with his film Piranhas.
As far as Christmas films go, I find it difficult to say that Gremlins is not a Christmas film. The setting and time of year are intricately tied to the events that occur. It starts out with giving an unusual and exceptional Christmas gift and then how careless the recipient is with the gift. There are secondary characters who have their own feelings about the holiday season and the references to It’s a Wonderful Life are numerous. This monumental event, or invasion, happens during Christmas, which is a time that is meant for family, not gremlins taking over the town and harassing people. I don’t know. It just feels appropriate to watch at Christmas.
I wonder how much of that has to do with Chris Columbus being the writer of the film (or the credited writer). I mentioned earlier that he’s done quite a few films all set during the “winter” season as either writer, director, and/or producer: Home Alone, Home Alone 2, Adventures in Babysitting, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (and additional Harry Potter films), Mrs. Doubtfire, Christmas with the Kranks, and more.
I could probably go on and on about Easter Eggs and fun trivia about Gremlins, but I'll just stick to saying that I do think it's a Christmas movie, despite the gore, and is one that shows up on my TV every holiday season.