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Gremlins (1984) Poster

(1984)

Trivia

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In Cantonese Chinese, mogwai means devil, demon or gremlin. The Mandarin pronunciation is mogui.
The theater that blows up was subsequently involved in another accident when Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) in Back to the Future (1985), smashes into the front entrance at the end of the film. The theater then burned down with the rest of the buildings in the fire that happened right after the filming of Back to the Future Part II (1989).
The time machine prop from The Time Machine (1960) can be seen behind Rand Peltzer when he's on the phone with his wife, while attending the convention. A moment later, the machine has disappeared (into the future or the past) to the astonishment of several onlookers. Also attending the convention are Steven Spielberg, Jerry Goldsmith and Robby the Robot
The set for Kingston Falls is the same one used for Back to the Future (1985). Both movies were filmed in the Universal Studios backlot.
The scene in the department store where Stripe attacks Billy with a chainsaw was not in the script. It was added by Joe Dante and Zach Galligan as a homage to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974).
Generally credited (along with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)) to influence the MPAA to create the PG-13 rating, as many felt the scenes of violence in both movies were too much for a PG rating, but not enough for an R rating.
Zach Galligan recounted in an interview that when the movie was made there was no CGI so all the Gremlins were animatronics, each costing between $30,000 and $40,000. So when everyone left the lot for the day, security would have everyone pop the trunks on their cars to make sure they weren't stolen.
At least one of Phoebe Cates's screams in the scene at Dorry's Tavern is genuine. An enormous cockroach crawled out in front of her during one take.
After watching his earlier short films, Steven Spielberg considered Tim Burton to direct the film. But decided against it because at the time Burton had never directed a full feature length film.
Little to no actual dialogue for the Gremlins and Mogwai exists in the script in itself. In addition to several instances of on stage rewrites changing or adding to much of the script, the voiceovers were all mostly ad libs, repeating snippets of just performed dialogue or in reaction to other sound effects or environment. To this end, Howie Mandel recorded Gizmo's lines phonetically for foreign dubs of the movie, where localized dialogue and in-jokes helped make the picture successful with audiences world wide.
Among others, the voices of the Gremlins were done by Michael Winslow.
Near the very beginning of the film, as Mr. Peltzer makes his way to the curio shop in Chinatown, a wrecked car is seen with the hood up and smoke coming out of it. That car is an AMC Gremlin. In real life, the AMC Gremlin logo (located on the gas cap) bears a striking resemblance to the Gremlins featured in the film except for a more grotesque, reptilian appearance.
When Billy leads Pete up to his room to show him the Mogwai, a rolled up movie poster for Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) can be seen standing on end against a wall. Joe Dante directed one of the "episodes" for that film a year earlier.
Frances Lee McCain, who plays Peltzer 's mom also plays Lorraine's mom in Back to the Future (1985) when Marty goes back to 1955. Both films were executive produced by Steven Spielberg.
Mrs. Deagle, the richest lady in town, has named her cats after different kinds of currency (including Kopeck, Drachma and Dollar Bill).
According to Joe Dante and Michael Finnell, the original rough cut of the film ran 2 hours and 40 minutes.
The idea for these creatures was born in a loft in Manhattan's garment district that was home to NYU Film School graduate screenwriter Chris Columbus. "By day, it was pleasant enough, but at night, what sounded like a platoon of mice would come out and to hear them skittering around in the blackness was really creepy." Columbus recalls.
Originally planned and scheduled for a Christmas release, the film was rushed into production shortly after Warner Bros. found out that it had no major competition against Paramount's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) or Columbia's Ghostbusters (1984) for the summer movie season.
Within the story, Gizmo was capable of singing or humming. Jerry Goldsmith wrote Gizmo's song as well, but Howie Mandel never sang it. A girl member of Goldsmith's congregation was hired to sing Gizmo's song, although she had never worked in films before.
It was Frank Welker who suggested Howie Mandel perform in this film.
The last film to be shot on Eastmancolor 125T film stock. 125T was discontinued shortly after this film finished shooting.
At the start of the film the cinema in the town is showing A Boy's Life and Watch The Skies, which were the working titles for Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) respectively.
In the bar scene, the video game the Gremlin is playing is Star Wars (1983).
Unbeknownst to Joe Dante and Michael Finnell, Steven Spielberg was a big fan of The Howling (1981). After he came across Chris Columbus' writing sample, he fell in love with it and bought it. Then he decided that Dante was the guy to make it into a movie, took the project to Warner Bros. and also produced it with his own company, Amblin Entertainment.
Though he followed the basic outline of the script, Hoyt Axton is said to have improvised nearly all his lines.
In addition to restoring the classic Warner Brothers logo to the opening of the movie, it was hoped to release the film along with the classic Looney Tunes short, Falling Hare (1943), where Bugs Bunny is harassed by a plane gremlin during WW II. This fell through, but, highlights from the short do appear as part of the Behind the Scenes featurette, that has also been included on the Special Edition DVD.
Both Judd Nelson and Emilio Estevez were considered for the role of Billy.
Chris Columbus wrote the script and later directed Home Alone (1990) and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992); all three films have a video clip of It's a Wonderful Life (1946).
When the filmmakers were making this they had the idea to use Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) as a film to be shown in the theatre because Disney released it out on December 21,1937 as a holiday movie event since this story took place during the Christmas season.
This was the first movie in years to use Warner Bros' "shield" logo.
In this film, the Amblin Entertainment logo makes its first on-screen appearance.
Hoyt Axton was always the foremost choice for Rand Peltzer. Pat Harrington Jr. was also considered. Pat Hingle was said to have delivered the best screen test, but was passed on because it was feared Rand's character would take over the picture as a result of Hingle's excellent performance.
On the Deagle Real Estate sign the hours of operation are only 10:30-11:15 Mon-Fri.
Edward Andrews, Judge Reinhold, and William Schallert received roles that were reduced after the film was edited.
During one night shoot, problems with the Gremlin puppets were so severe that the entire cast fell asleep on the set during the delay.
The official comic strip adaptation included scenes that were not in the movie, including Billy's mother asking if the mogwai was a rat followed by the mogwai using Rand's "Bathroom Buddy," thus earning the name "Gizmo." There was also more emphasis on a subplot of Mrs. Deagle trying to buy up everything in town, a scene of Billy finding that throwing juice on the mogwais has no effect on them, Mr. Hanson's students being more Billy's age, Gizmo and Kate trying to shut down the fountain and turn on the lights, and Billy smashing Stripe's skeleton with a baseball bat.
Billy says he bought a comic at Dr. Fantasy's. Dr. Fantasy is a nickname for executive producer Frank Marshall.
Kenneth Tobey and Belinda Balaski also appeared in Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990), both playing a different character.
While watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) on the local cinema, one of the gremlins wears some Mickey Mouse's ears.
The film references Joe Dante's The Howling (1981) with a smiley face image on a refrigerator door.
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The picture of Rockin' Ricky Rialto is a picture of Don Steele.
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The footage of Santa on the roof that Mr. Futterman is watching in his home is of Red Skelton in a Christmas skit from one of his shows.
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After Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), this movie marked the second collaboration between Joe Dante and Michael Finnell with Steven Spielberg.
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The Scottish alternative rock band Mogwai take their name from this film.
The original script contained a scene where the gremlins attacked a McDonald's, eating customers instead of burgers.
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The billboard of Rockin' Ricky Rialto at the start of the movie is done up like Indiana Jones; Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) was shown at the Rialto cinema, and producer Steven Spielberg directed that film.
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There are many connections to Steven Spielberg's other popular movie, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982). One of the Gremlins says "phone home", there is a stuffed E.T., and at the begining, one of the movies on the marquee is "A Boy's Life" which was the fake name E.T. was shipped to theaters under.
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The Santa speech proved to be controversial, and studio executives insisted upon its removal, because they felt it was too ambiguous as to whether it was supposed to be funny or sad. Joe Dante stubbornly refused to take the scene out, saying it represented the film as a whole, which had a combination of horrific and comedic elements. Steven Spielberg did not like the scene but, despite his creative control, he viewed Gremlins as Dante's project and allowed him to leave it in.
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Jon Pertwee and Mako were both seriously considered for the role of Mr. Wing.
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In Mrs. Deagle's house, Edward Arnold is shown in a few photographs as Donald Deagle. The permission for their use was granted by his estate.
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An earlier attempt to have monkeys play the gremlins was abandoned because the test monkey panicked when made to wear a gremlin head.
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Although it is not clearly visible, "Four Magic Moves to Winning Golf", by Joe Dante (senior) is on Billy's nightstand. Joe Dante Junior said his father criticized him for not making the title more visible.
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Mushroom, the dog actor who played Billy's dog, Barney, also played Lance Henriksen's dog in the cult horror movie Pumpkinhead (1988).
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The Gizmo puppets were particularly frustrating because they were smaller and thus broke down more. Consequently, to satisfy the crew, a scene was included in which the gremlins hang Gizmo on a wall and throw darts at him. This was included on a list that the crew created known to them as the "Horrible Things to do to Gizmo" list.
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The last film project of Scott Brady and Edward Andrews.
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The novelization explains that Mr. Wing's grandson was severely punished by his grandfather for the back alley sale of Gizmo.
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Joe Dante actually prefers Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) to this original film.
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Keye Luke had remarkable skin and had to be made-up to look older than his real age. (At the time of filming, Luke was in his mid-80s.)
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Steven Spielberg urged the casting of the relatively unknown Zach Galligan as Billy because he saw chemistry between him and Phoebe Cates during auditions. Galligan later compared himself to Billy, saying he was a "geeky kid", and that being in the film "was really kind of a dream" given "what I get to do, what my character gets to do, blow up movie theatres", adding that he "got to work with great people".
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According to Joe Dante, the mogawi/gremlin that Billy left with Mr Hanson later met up with Stripe's gang and joined in terrorizing the town before being blown up with the rest.
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The new mogwai, who popped out of Gizmo's body as small, furry balls which then started to grow, were balloons and expanded as such.
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Billy was originally more of a typical nerd and not only travelled around the town with two companions during the madness (a love interest and a bully-turned-emergency-ally), but wielded a sword.
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Released on the same day as Ghostbusters (1984).
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One of the studio notes to director Joe Dante and producer Steven Spielberg on seeing the first cut was that there were too many gremlins. To which Spielberg suggested cutting them all out and calling the film "People".
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A deleted scene shows that Gerald was hiding out in the bank vault while the Gremlins ran wild, and is losing his sanity.
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The novelization has a scene with the mogwai/gremlin (named Earl in the novel) Billy left with Mr Hanson to study. After Hanson took a sample of his blood, it gets a hold of a sandwich and eats after midnight. After completing its transformation, it takes its revenge on Hanson for the blood test before scratching Billy and escapes into the school's ventilation system. It briefly appears and attacks Billy in the nurse's office before escaping. After that, it disappears and Billy doesn't give it any thought when he went to tracking down Stripe.
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The novelization for Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) mentions being attacked by something with razor-sharp claws and vicious teeth; this could be a reference to the Gremlins of this film. Also, an inventor Waxflatter hallucinates that gremlins sabotaged his ornithopter, which is a definite in-joke to this film.
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In Young Sherlock Holmes (1985), an inventor Waxflatter builds inventions similar to Rand Peltzer's, like a clockwork egg slicer he never got to patent; a spring-loaded device that turned the pages of a book with a timer that recorded the reader's pace and a gas-fueled bedside coffeemaker. Both films were scripted by Chris Columbus and may reflect his love of inventions, like in the James Bond series, that he and Steven Spielberg are big fans of.
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Chris Columbus sold Steven Spielberg the script along with the screenplay for The Goonies (1985) but his career didn't take off until after the massive success of Home Alone (1990).
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After having a great working relationship with Steven Spielberg on this film, Spielberg produced the next two films Chris Columbus scripted, The Goonies (1985), based on an idea Spielberg had, and Young Sherlock Holmes (1985), which was Columbus's idea, which altogether was two years working on those three films.
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There was more than one Gizmo puppet, and occasionally Zach Galligan, when carrying one, would set him down off camera, and when Gizmo appeared again sitting on a surface it was actually a different puppet wired to the surface.
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Deleted scenes reveal that Mrs. Deagle was forcing people out of their homes to put down a strip mall, effectively destroying Kingston Falls. In the novelization, she was selling their land to a chemical company Hitox of all things.
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The 4th biggest grossing film of 1984.
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Cameo 

Chuck Jones: The Warner Bros. animation legend makes a brief on-screen cameo in the scene with Billy and Gerald trading insults.

Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

At the end, Gizmo pulls a window blind which exposes Stripe to the sunlight. But, originally, there are two window blinds and Gizmo pulls the first one and then Billy pulls the second one. This scene was edited because Steven Spielberg believed that Gizmo was the hero of the movie and not Billy and therefore Gizmo would be the one responsible for the demise of Stripe.
Chris Columbus's script went through a few drafts before a shooting script was finalized. His original version had the creatures killing the dog and cutting off the mom's head and tossing it down the stairs. These elements were never shot due to the fact that both Joe Dante and Warner Bros. wanted the movie to be more family-oriented.
In the original draft of the script, instead of Stripe being a Mogwai who becomes a Gremlin, there was no Stripe the Mogwai and Gizmo was supposed to turn into Stripe the Gremlin. Steven Spielberg overruled this plot element because he felt Gizmo was cute and audiences would want him to be present at all stages of the film. This became stressful for Chris Walas who had designed the Gizmo puppet only for the actions that happened in the first half of the movie.
In the script, Murray Futterman was killed during his encounter with the Gremlins but it was changed because the filmmakers found this a little harsh. So, during the news report at the end of the movie (if you listen closely the voice over) you can hear Lew Landers say that he is going to talk with Mr. Futterman at the hospital. In the novelization of the film by George Gipe, this change was not included.
After Lynn Peltzer stabs the Gremlin to death in the kitchen there was an unused effect of the Gremlin trying to pull the knife free from its body, the effect was considered too distressing and the shot omitted, however you can see the effect over her shoulder as she microwaves the other Gremlin.
Mr. Hanson, the science teacher, originally died with dozens of hypodermic needles stuck in his face. But, by request from Steven Spielberg, this scene was re-shot it with just a single needle in the buttocks.
Steven Spielberg: as the man in the electric wheelchair at science convention when Randall is on the phone
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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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