Gremlins (1984) Poster



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).
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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 set for Kingston Falls is the same one used for Back to the Future (1985). Both movies were filmed in the Universal Studios backlot.
At least one of Phoebe Cates' screams in the scene at Dorry's Tavern is genuine. An enormous cockroach crawled out in front of her during one take.
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. Spielberg suggested cutting them all out and calling the film "People".
In Cantonese, mogwai means devil, demon, or gremlin. The Mandarin pronunciation is mogui.
This film and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) are credited with inspiring the MPAA to create the PG-13 rating. Many felt the movies were too violent for a PG rating, but not violent enough for an R.
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
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.
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.
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-$40,000. When everyone left the lot for the day, security would have everyone open the trunks of their cars to make sure they weren't stolen.
Released on the same day as Ghostbusters (1984).
After watching Tim Burton's earlier short films, Steven Spielberg considered him to direct the film. He decided against it because at the time Burton had never directed a full-feature length film.
Originally Stripe and Gizmo were the same character. Steven Spielberg insisted one of the Gremlins be a good guy that the audience could identify with.
Little to no actual dialogue for the Gremlins and Mogwai exists in the script in itself. In addition to several instances of on-set rewrites changing or adding to much of the script, the voiceovers were 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 worldwide.
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.
The original script contained a scene where the gremlins attacked a McDonald's, eating customers instead of burgers.
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.
An earlier attempt to have monkeys play the gremlins was abandoned because the test monkey panicked when made to wear a gremlin head.
Mrs. Deagle, the richest lady in town, has named her cats after different kinds of currency (including Kopeck, Drachma and Dollar Bill).
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 on December 21,1937 as a holiday movie event, since this story took place during the Christmas season.
In the bar scene, the video game the Gremlin is playing is Star Wars (1983).
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 female member of Goldsmith's congregation was hired to sing Gizmo's song, although she had never worked in films before.
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.
Among others, the voices of the Gremlins were done by Michael Winslow.
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.
In this film, the Amblin Entertainment logo makes its first on-screen appearance.
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.
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.
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.
Though he followed the basic outline of the script, Hoyt Axton is said to have improvised nearly all his lines.
It was Frank Welker who suggested Howie Mandel perform in this film.
According to Joe Dante and Michael Finnell, the original rough cut of the film ran 2 hours and 40 minutes.
The film references Joe Dante's The Howling (1981) with a smiley face image on a refrigerator door.
Hoyt Axton was always the first 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.
Joe Dante actually prefers Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990), this film's sequel, to the original.
Chris Columbus wrote the script for this film 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).
The last film to be shot on Eastmancolor 125T film stock, which was discontinued shortly after this film finished shooting.
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.
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.
This was the first movie in years to use Warner Bros' "shield" logo.
During one night shoot, problems with the Gremlin puppets were so severe that the entire cast fell asleep on the set during the delay.
Steven Spielberg had a great working relationship with Chris Columbus on this film, and he produced the next two films Columbus scripted--The Goonies (1985), based on an idea Spielberg had, and Young Sherlock Holmes (1985), which was Columbus' idea. Altogether, three years was spent working on those three films.
On the Deagle Real Estate sign the hours of operation are only 10:30-11:15 Mon-Fri.
Billy says he bought a comic at Dr. Fantasy's. Dr. Fantasy is a nickname for executive producer Frank Marshall.
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".
Both Judd Nelson and Emilio Estevez were considered for the role of Billy.
When Murray says we should have gotten a Zenith (TV) it's a reference to the fact that by the 1980's Zenith was one of the few elecronics brands still manufactured in the United States.
While watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) on the local cinema, one of the gremlins wears a set of Mickey Mouse ears.
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.
Even though set during Christmas, this film was actually released on June, 8th.
The term "gremlin" is a neologism originally coined by Welsh author Roald Dahl, famous for his somewhat dark children's books. His story 'gremlin Lore' about fictitious mischievous elves that were said to cause unexplained damage on RAF planes was commissioned by Walt Disney but was never made.
Chris Walas suggested they use puppets instead of the proposed stop motion idea. As a compromise the studio suggested a spider monkey in a suit which was tested at Joe Dante's office, the animal went crazy, tearing the office apart and defecating everywhere. Dante screamed at the trainer to get the animal and then asked Walas, 'So puppets?'
Mushroom, the dog actor who played Billy's dog, Barney, also played Lance Henriksen's dog in the cult horror movie Pumpkinhead (1988).
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.
Edward Andrews, Judge Reinhold's and William Schallert's roles were reduced after the film was edited.
The Scottish alternative rock band Mogwai takes their name from this film.
Jon Pertwee and Mako were both seriously considered for the role of Mr. Wing.
The new mogwai, which popped out of Gizmo's body as small, furry balls which then started to grow, were balloons and expanded as such.
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.
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.
After Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), this film marked the second collaboration of Joe Dante and Michael Finnell with Steven Spielberg.
Chris Columbus sold Steven Spielberg the script along with the screenplay for The Goonies (1985) but his career didn't take off until the massive success of Home Alone (1990).
A movie poster for The Road Warrior (1981) is seen near the TV as Billy falls asleep after the Mogwai ate after midnight.
The fourth biggest grossing film of 1984.
Kenneth Tobey and Belinda Balaski also appeared in Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990), both playing a different character.
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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The picture of Rockin' Ricky Rialto is a picture of Don Steele.
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.
Final film of Scott Brady.
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At the beginning of the movie, while on his way to work, Billy says hello to Dr Moreau; a headnod to the 1896 sci-fi novel The Island of Dr. Moreau.
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Keye Luke had remarkably young-looking skin and had to be made-up to look older than his real age--at the time of filming, he was in his mid-80s.
Chris's workshop began to understand the premise of the gremlins creatures when they did the carol singing gremlins, once they were dressed in human clothing Walas exclaimed, 'They're parodies of people!'
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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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Spielberg changed the design of the Mogwai from moment to moment, greatly upsetting Chris Walas's workshop, first he suggested they change the color to brown in white rather than all over brown, then hairless ears, then he wanted Gizmo to become more of a sidekick to Billys hero doubling Walas's already overstretched workshop.
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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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Judge Reinhold & Phoebe Cates, starring together in Gremlins (1984), both starred together in Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982).
The two swords seen hanging on Peltzer's wall appear to be the same props used in the climactic battle between Buffy and Angel in the season 2 finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Final film of Edward Andrews'.
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The character of Mrs. Deagle was based after and a nod to the character of Ebenezer Scrooge from the classic Charles Dickins novel "A Christmas Carol".
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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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While the original shooting script contained numerous scenes that featured graphic violence and gore (and would have certainly led to the final film getting an R rating), Joe Dante and Steven Spielberg both intended to sharply reduce these elements, and the rumors that an R-rated cut of the film exist are inaccurate. It helped that many of the more horrifying scenes in the script were basically ideas that Dante and Spielberg wanted in the movie such as the bit with the gremlins attacking the mailbox guy and Santa and so rewriting was not a major issue and gave more focus time to making sure the film would get the PG rating it wanted.
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Chuck Jones: The Warner Bros. animation legend makes a brief on-screen cameo in the scene with Billy and Gerald trading insults.


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

At the end, Gizmo pulls a window blind that exposes Stripe to the sunlight. Originally, however, there were 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' 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.
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. However, by request from Steven Spielberg, this scene was re-shot with just a single needle in the buttocks.
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 to the voice0over) you can hear Lew Landers (an in-joke referencing prolific 1930s-'50s "B" picture director 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.
According to Joe Dante, the mogawi/gremlin Earl, 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.
Steven Spielberg: as the man in the electric wheelchair at science convention when Randall is on the phone
The novelization explains that Mr. Wing's grandson was severely punished by his grandfather for the back alley sale of Gizmo.
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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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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Billy watches "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1956) in his room before giving the five new gremlins food after midnight. Invasion of the body snatchers is about aliens taking over a whole city, just like the evil Gremlins will be doing later in the movie.
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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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In a scene that was filmed but cut from the movie, Stripes pops his head out of the snow and moves his head to carol singers singing Christmas carols.
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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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