Favorite Fictional Characters, #242: Stripe
Gremlins is an iconic film to those of my vintage. Released on the same day in 1984 as Ghostbusters, it has the odd distinction of being a big-time movie that utterly failed to launch the career of lead actor Zach Galligan, as well as featuring then-it-girl Phoebe Cates in one of her only two roles people remember. No bikini in this one, sadly.
The real main characters are the creatures, with the obvious breakout star being the fuzzy godfather of the Furby, the mogwai Gizmo. Lots of stuffed Gizmos on the shelves that Christmas. I liked Stripe, though. Even before his gruesome metamorphosis into scaly gremlinhood, the white-mohawked Stripe was devious, cruel, and rapacious, clearly the leader of the first batch of Gizmo's accidental progeny. Once he tricks Billy into feeding them after midnight and transforming his siblings into gremlins, it's game on in Kingston Falls. For a movie ostensibly aimed at children, Gremlins is dark, violent, and gory, turning the Christmas setting into a gingerbread house of horrors.
It's hard not to like Stripe. He digs movies and popcorn, poker, and his family. He's a fun-loving little bastard. Of course, as a villain, gets his eventual grisly comeuppance at the film's climax, though not before he destroys half the town and terrorizes Billy through the local department store.
There are theories that Gremlins is an anti-technology statement, that it's inherently racist and/or sexist, and various other complex sociological interpretations. I think it's merely a dated 1980s period piece that hasn't aged all that well.