Gremlins is a 1984 American comedy horror film directed by Joe Dante and released by Warner Bros. The film is about a young man who receives a strange creature called a mogwai as a pet, which then spawns other creatures who transform into small, destructive, evil monsters. This story was continued with a sequel, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, released in 1990. Unlike the lighter sequel, Gremlins opts for more black comedy, balanced against a Christmas time setting. Both films were the center of large merchandising campaigns. The film stars Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates, with Howie Mandel providing the voice of Gizmo, the main mogwai character. Gremlins was a commercial success and received positive reviews from critics. However, the film was also heavily criticized for some of its more violent sequences.