Gremlins
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FAQ for
Gremlins (1984) More at IMDbPro »

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FAQ Contents


A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Gremlins can be found here.

No. Gremlins is based on a screenplay written by American film-maker Chris Columbus. Gremlins spawned a sequel, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, that was released in 1990.

Many people think that gremlins come from old myths, like leprechauns and pixies, but the gremlin was actually coined by the British Royal Air Force in the early 1900s. The word gremlin first appeared in print in a poem published in 1929 in the journal Aeroplane. Gremlin was used during WWII to explain the inexplicable mechanical problems that would happen while an aircraft was in flight. British author Roald Dahl, who served his military service in the Royal Air Force and was familiar with the concept of the gremlin, published a children's book that he called The Gremlins (1943). In it, he named the male gremlins widgets and the female gremlins fifinellas. In Gremlins the movie, the little furry creatures are called mogwai.

What is a mogwai?

Mogwai can be translated from Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese as meaning monster or demon. In Gremlins, the mogwai is a cute little animal who likes to sing. The Peltzers name him Gizmo. A photo of Gizmo can be seen here.

There are three rules: (1) no bright light, (2) don't get him wet, and (3) never feed him after midnight, no matter how much he begs. Bright light hurts him, and sunlight can kill him. If he gets wet, he pops out more mogwais. If fed after midnight, a mogwai will spin a cocoon and undergo metamorphosis, turning into a wicked, troublemaking gremlin.

This is never elaborated upon in the movie. It starts at midnight, as shown in the scene where Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan) notes that it is 11:40 PM and still okay to feed the mogwais. When "after midnight" ends is not specified. Presumably, it could mean 6AM or maybe sunrise.

Mogwai appear to reproduce asexually, so they may have no need for two genders. Gremlins 2 has a female gremlin, created through genetic experimentation.

How does the movie end?

As morning approaches, the gremlins amass in a movie theater to watch Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). Billy and Kate (Phoebe Cates) sneak inside the theater, open a gas valve, start a fire, then sneak back out and barricade the door. The theater explodes, killing all the gremlins except for Stripe, who dipped across the street to the department store in order to get more candy. Billy and Kate see Stripe in the window and break into the department store. While Kate (with Gizmo in a backpack) goes looking for light switches, Billy pursues Stripe, knocking over displays and destroying merchandise in the process. Stripe comes after Billy with a chainsaw just as Kate turns on the spotlights, causing Stripe to scamper for cover in the garden department. Unfortunately, in turning on the lights, Kate also turned on a fountain. Stripe jumps in the fountain, and his back begins to bubble with little mogwais. Suddenly, Gizmo comes driving up in a pink toy car, crashes into a wall, and jumps for a cord that opens the shades, letting in the morning sunlight. Stripe is fried before he can hatch more mogwai. Billy and Kate wrap Gizmo in a scarf and take him home. In the final scenes, the Grandfather (Keye Luke) shows up to reclaim Gizmo, informing the Peltzers that they are not ready to take on the responsibility of caring for a mogwai. Gizmo says bye to Billy, and Grandfather adds that Billy MIGHT be ready someday.

Cashing in on the popularity of Gremlins, a rash of movies that featured little mischievous critters soon followed. One of these was actually titled Critters (1986), with little, furry, flesh-eating monsters from outer space. Critters gave rise to three sequels: Critters 2 (1988), Critters 3 (1991), and Critters 4 (1991). There was also Ghoulies (1985), slobbering, puppet monsters with sharp teeth, and its three sequels: Ghoulies II (1987), Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go to College (1991), and Ghoulies IV (1994). Munchies (1987) featured a little creature found in a secret chamber in Machu Picchu, Troll (1986) starred an evil troll who turns people into plant pods, Hobgoblins (1988), who faintly resemble gremlins, grant people their wildest fantasies and kill them in the process, and Evil Toons (1992) has a Toon monster evoked from a page in a book. Finally, there is Leprechaun (1993), featuring a nasty little creature from Irish myth. Leprechaun spawned five sequels: Leprechaun 2 (1994), Leprechaun 3 (1995), Leprechaun 4: In Space (1997), Leprechaun in the Hood (2000), and Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood (2003).

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