While most children of the ‘80s vividly remember Gremlins’ signature moments – the three crucial rules regarding the care of a Mogwai, the microwaving incident that helped usher in the MPAA’s PG-13 rating, the Scrooge-ish wicked witch Mrs. Deagle (Polly Holliday) riding a runaway stair-climbing chair – rarely does anyone seem to remark upon the political subtext slyly coursing throughout this malevolent monster movie’s veins. This is probably because Joe Dante’s Christmastime children’s fantasy is so gleefully mischievous and full of dark, magical energy that it’s hard to look past the plush-toy cuteness of Gizmo, the sweet romance between Billy (Zach Galligan) and Kate (Phoebe Cates), or the stream of reverential allusions to The Wizard of Oz, It’s A Wonderful Life, producer Steven Spielberg’s E.T., and the Looney Tunes cartoons (replete with a cameo by famed Warner Bros. animator Chuck Jones) from which Dante lovingly draws inspiration. But underneath Gremlins' bouncy veneer lurks a commentary on American arrogance (what was country music legend Hoyt Axton thinking by recklessly entrusting Gizmo to a hormone-charged teenage boy?) and U.S. fears of Asian infiltration, the latter of which can be glimpsed in both the pint-sized creatures’ Chinatown origins as well as in the Japanese auto parts-hating xenophobia of Billy’s neighbor Mr. Futterman (the wonderful Dick Miller). And though the symbolic meaning of Gizmo waving an American flag remains somewhat elusive, in the end, I can't help shake the feeling that the little bugger – like the film itself – stands for a can’t-we-all-just-get-along middle ground between Axton’s Yankee arrogance and Stripe’s Asian militancy.