Christmas Movie Advent Calendar – Day Fourteen

phoebe-cates-in-gremlins

So you think you hate Christmas? You think there is no Santa Claus?

I don’t want to dig up any skeletons or unhappy memories for anyone, but when Kate Beringer declares casually that she now has another reason to hate Christmas, the audience watching Gremlins get sucker-punched. Billy Peltzer, too, is baffled. I mean, I know the gremlin infestation is a real worry and cause of stress – like we need more strain in the festive season – but surely Kate does not have a worse example of Christmas misery than the destruction and menace by those wretched little cretins.

Turns out, the worse thing that ever happened to Kate actually happened at Christmas. Poignantly delivered by Phoebe Cates, Kate goes on to tell her Christmas story, that when she was 9 years-old, she discovered two life-altering things – that her father died; and that as a result of him intending to surprise his family, there was no Santa Claus too.

Having prepared the house for Christmas, and her father’s return from work, Kate and her mom waited for him, through Christmas Eve, through Christmas Day, and on and on. Nothing. Not until Kate attempted to light a fire did the horrific truth arrive. It was not a dead cat or bird stuck in the chimney, it was her Santa-Claus-clad father.

In a movie rife with adventure, spooks, mischief, fantasy, comedy, Kate’s Christmas story pulls you right off track for those few moments. Gremlins, for those 90 seconds, is no longer a monster movie, no longer are you laughing. A genuinely upsetting moment, as Kate relays that tragic event from childhood, but a Christmas story none-the-less. And that’s how Kate found out there was no Santa Claus. And that’s why she already hated Christmas.

Oh, hang on, I’ve got something in my eye.

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