(3.5) with charlie brown and die hard this was for years my go-to christmas movie. and sure, it has some problems but it's still very entertaining with a wonderful dark streak. in general, i miss the dark, weirdly bent comedies that seemed to be more common in eighties and parts of the nineties.
Loved this as a kid and having not seen it in 15 years or so I can say that it still holds up. The blend of goofy comedy and gruesome violence is well handled and there are few movies that can balance family-friendly and downright-nasty. The acting is quite good and the effects are stellar and still works better than CGI probably would have.
There was never a movie like this, and never again. Bold enough to blend fantasy, horror and sci-fi in a children story. Like a good classic children story is meant to be. With monsters and fun. (Oh, I remember, Neil Gaiman does it so well, too! Oh, and he was the one that said that "fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.")
A middle ground between Dante's goofier work and his forays into darkness, on rewatch I wish he had embraced the latter more. I never found Billy's hero's journey that compelling. The best segment of the film being Billy's mom's encounter with Gremlins, the bit where she first picks up the knife is truly suspenseful moment and Dante morphing the fireplace's glow into something nightmarish is masterful.