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Gremlins (1984) Poster

(1984)

Trivia

Mr. Hanson (Glynn Turman), the science teacher, originally died with dozens of hypodermic needles stuck in his face. However, by request from executive producer Steven Spielberg, this scene was re-shot with just a single needle in the buttocks.
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This trivia item contains spoilers. Click to view
Jump to: Cameo (2)  | Spoilers (6)
The set for Kingston Falls is the same one used for Back to the Future (1985). Both movies were filmed on the Universal Studios backlot.
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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. Director Joe Dante however stubbornly refused to take the scene out saying it represented this movie as a whole, which had a combination of horrific and comedic elements. Executive producer Steven Spielberg did not like the scene, but despite his creative control, he viewed this movie as Dante's project and allowed him to leave it in.
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In Cantonese, "mogwai" means "devil," "demon," or "gremlin." The Mandarin pronunciation is "mogui."
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Originally, Stripe and Gizmo were the same character. This changed when executive producer Steven Spielberg insisted one of the Gremlins be a good guy with whom the audience could identify.
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The scene in the department store where Stripe attacks Billy with a chainsaw was not in the script. It was added by director Joe Dante and Zach Galligan as an 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. 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).
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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.
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Released on the same day as Ghostbusters (1984).
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Zach Galligan recounted in an interview that when the movie was made there was no CGI so all of the Gremlins were animatronics, each costing between thirty and forty thousand dollars. 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.
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This movie 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.
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One of the studio notes to director Joe Dante and executive producer Steven Spielberg on seeing the first cut was that there were too many gremlins. Spielberg suggested cutting them all out and calling the movie "People."
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Little to no actual dialogue for the Gremlins and Mogwai existed in the script. In addition to several instances of on-set re-writes changing or adding to much of the script, the voice-overs 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 this movie successful with audiences worldwide.
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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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After watching Tim Burton's earlier short films, executive producer Steven Spielberg considered him to direct this movie. He decided against it, however, because at the time, Burton had never directed a full-feature length movie.
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At the start of this movie the movie theater in the town is showing "A Boy's Life" and "Watch The Skies." These were the working titles for Executive Producer Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), respectively.
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The time machine prop from The Time Machine (1960) can be seen behind Randall Peltzer (Hoyt Axton) 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 on-lookers. Also attending the convention were Steven Spielberg, Jerry Goldsmith, and Robby the Robot.
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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. Executive producer Steven Spielberg overruled this plot element because he felt Gizmo was cute and audiences would want him to be present at all stages of this movie. 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.
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Near the beginning, as Randall Peltzer (Hoyt Axton) 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) bore a striking resemblance to the Gremlins featured in this movie, except for a more grotesque, reptilian appearance.
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Mrs. Deagle (Polly Holliday), the richest lady in town, had named her cats after different kinds of currency (including Kopeck, Ruble, Peso, Drachma, and Dollar Bill).
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Chris Columbus' script went through a few drafts before a shooting script was finalized. His original version had the Gremlins 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 director Joe Dante and Warner Brothers wanted the movie to be more family-oriented.
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The original script contained a scene where the gremlins attacked a McDonald's, eating customers instead of burgers.
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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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Within the story Gizmo was capable of singing and humming. Jerry Goldsmith wrote Gizmo's song but Howie Mandel never sang it. Instead a female member of Goldsmith's congregation was hired to sing Gizmo's song, although she had never worked in movies before.
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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 voice-over) you can hear Lew Landers (an in-joke referencing prolific 1930s-'50s "B" movie director Lew Landers) say that he is going to talk with Mr. Futterman at the hospital. In the novelization by George Gipe, this change was not included.
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The Gizmo puppet was so well done that when Billy first opens the box the dog thought it was a real creature and was truly startled. The dog's growling was a genuine reaction.
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In the bar scene, the video game the Gremlin is playing is Star Wars (1983).
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Director Joe Dante prefers Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) to this movie.
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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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Executive producer Steven Spielberg had a great working relationship with screenwriter Chris Columbus on this movie, and he produced the next two movies 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 movies.
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Executive producer Steven Spielberg changed the design of the Mogwai from moment to moment, greatly upsetting Chris Walas' Workshop. He initially suggested they change the color to brown and white, rather than all-over brown, then hairless ears, and then he wanted Gizmo to become more of a sidekick to Billy's hero, doubling Walas' already overstretched workshop.
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The idea for these creatures was born in a loft in Manhattan's garment district that was home to New York University 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.
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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 director 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?"
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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.
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Originally planned and scheduled for a Christmas release, this movie was rushed into production shortly after Warner Brothers found out that it had no major competition against Paramount Pictures' Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) or Columbia Pictures' Ghostbusters (1984) for the summer movie season.
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There are many connections to executive producer 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 under which E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) was shipped to theaters.
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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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Even though set during Christmas, this movie was released on June 8.
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Amongst others, the voices of the Gremlins were done by Michael Winslow.
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This movie references Joe Dante's The Howling (1981) with a smiley face image on a refrigerator door.
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Executive producer 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 this movie "was really kind of a dream" given "what I get to do, what my character gets to do, blow up movie theaters", adding that he "got to work with great people."
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The last movie to be shot on Eastmancolor 125T film stock, which was discontinued shortly after this movie finished shooting.
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During one night shoot, problems with the Gremlin puppets were so severe that the entire cast fell asleep on the set during the delay.
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In this movie, the Amblin Entertainment logo made its first on-screen appearance.
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Billy watches Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) in his room before giving the five new gremlins food after midnight. That movie is about aliens taking over a whole city, just like the evil Gremlins will be doing later in the movie.
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Though he followed the basic outline of the script, Hoyt Axton is said to have improvised nearly all of his lines.
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A deleted scene shows that Gerald (Judge Reinhold) was hiding out in the bank vault while the Gremlins ran wild, and is losing his sanity.
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The fourth biggest grossing film of 1984.
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When Murray (Dick Miller) said, "We should have gotten a Zenith" (television). It's a reference to the fact that by the 1980s, Zenith was one of the few elecronics brands still manufactured in the U.S.
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Chris Columbus wrote the script for this movie and directed Home Alone (1990) and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992). All three movies have a video clip of It's a Wonderful Life (1946).
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Galligan was the first to point out that the "don't feed after midnight" rule is silly because it's always after midnight somewhere. "Well we make fun of all that stuff in Gremlins 2 anyway," says Dante.
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Unbeknownst to director Joe Dante and producer Michael Finnell, executive producer Steven Spielberg was a big fan of The Howling (1981). After he came across screenwriter 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 Brothers and also produced it with his own company, Amblin Entertainment.
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Hoyt Axton was always the first choice for Randall Peltzer. Pat Harrington, Jr. was also considered. Pat Hingle was said to have delivered the best screentest, but was passed on, because it was feared Randall would take over the movie as a result of Hingle's excellent performance.
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Frances Lee McCain, who played Billy Peltzer's mother, Lynn, also played Lorraine's mother, Stella, in Back to the Future (1985), when Marty goes back to 1955. Both movies were executively produced by Steven Spielberg.
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This was the first movie in many years to use Warner Brothers' "shield" logo.
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Chris Walas' workshop began to understand the premise of the gremlins 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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The film opened against Ghostbusters, and while that movie did better in most cities "in New York City where people were furious about having their traffic disrupted while that picture was being made for all those months we always did better than Ghostbusters."
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Screenwriter Chris Columbus sold executive producer 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).
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When Billy (Zach Galligan) leads Pete (Corey Feldman) 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. Director Joe Dante and executive producer Steven Spielberg directed segments of that movie.
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When the filmmakers were making this, they had the idea to use Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) as a movie to be shown in the theater, because Disney released it on December 21,1937 as a holiday movie event, since this story took place during the Christmas season.
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According to director Joe Dante and producer Michael Finnell, the original rough cut of this movie ran two hours and forty minutes.
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After the films release, Joe Dante stated, "I still have no idea why this picture was successful."
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The term "gremlin" is a neologism originally coined by English/Norwegian 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 Royal Air Force planes was commissioned by Walt Disney, but was never made.
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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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Gizmo was the inspiration for the Furby, a multi-million selling mechanical stuffed animal in the late 1990s.
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On the Deagle Real Estate sign, the hours of operation are only 10:30-11:15 Mon-Fri.
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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 Randall'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.
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While watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) at the local theater, one of the gremlins wears a set of Mickey Mouse ears.
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Billy says he bought a comic at Dr. Fantasy's. Dr. Fantasy is a nickname for executive producer Frank Marshall.
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It was Frank Welker who suggested Howie Mandel perform in this movie.
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In addition to restoring the classic Warner Brothers logo to the opening of the movie, it was hoped to release this movie along with the classic Looney Tunes short, Falling Hare (1943), where Bugs Bunny is harassed by an airplane gremlin during World War 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.
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Judd Nelson and Emilio Estevez were considered for the role of Billy.
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The educational film shown to the children in school about the heart and the pumping of blood is the Bell Science Series film "Hemo the Magnificent". This short was written & directed by Frank Capra, who also directed "It's a Wonderful Life", which also appears in this film.
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The Mogwai were molded and inspired from the Japanese Chin dog breed.
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Hoyt Axton (Randall Peltzer) was a well known and successful songwriter, as well as a sometime actor. His most famous hit was Three Dog Night's "Joy to the World".
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Gizmo does not really do much in the second half of the movie; mostly Dante just throws us a series of reaction shots of him. That's because Gizmo and Stripe were originally the same character; until Spielberg insisted this would be too troubling to children watching the movie who had fallen in love with the puppet creature (much like they did with ET two years earlier); and insisted they be differentiated. So part 2 of the movie has Stripe essentially taking over everything; and Gizmo just standing around watching him in horror; until the ending when Gizmo kills Stripe. (Originally Billy was going to kill Stripe/Gizmo; or transform him back to a Mogwai; so he could be brought back to the sage in Chinatown at the end of the movie).
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One of the reasons for the "no bright lights" rule was that in 1984 Joe Dante and Amblin could not completely navigate the perilous waters of special effects for the Gremlin/puppets that well; by keeping them in the dark this camouflaged this problem. (That's an old Sci-fi trick; Dante did the same thing with the tricky (and lumpy) practical effects for Howling three years earlier; they kept the monsters in the dark to hide special effects problems.
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The footage of Santa on the roof that Mr. Futterman is watching in his house is of Red Skelton in a Christmas skit from one of his shows.
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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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While the original shooting script contained numerous scenes that featured graphic violence and gore (and would have certainly led to the final movie getting an R rating), director Joe Dante and executive producer Steven Spielberg intended to sharply reduce these elements, and the rumors that an R-rated cut of this movie 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 re-writing was not a major issue, and gave more focus time to making sure this movie would get the PG rating they wanted.
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The scene when Billy is looking for Stripe in the department store is a nod to Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982). Stripe hides in-between stuffed animals like E.T., and there is a stuffed E.T. doll that falls over as Stripe sticks his head out.
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Although it is not clearly visible, "Four Magic Moves to Winning Golf", by Joe Dante, Sr. is on Billy's nightstand. Director Joe Dante, Jr. said his father criticized him for not making the title more visible.
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Cates' parents gave her a moped during production, but they took it back after she had numerous crashes on-set.
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Jon Pertwee and Mako were seriously considered for the role of Mr. Wing.
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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 science fiction novel The Island of Dr. Moreau.
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In Mrs. Deagle's (Polly Holliday'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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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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Joe Dante still owns the Peltzer Peeler Juicer.
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The Scottish alternative rock band Mogwai takes their name from this movie.
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Final theatrical movie of Scott Brady (Sheriff Frank).
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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 late seventies (Luke turned 79 during filming - June 1983)
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After Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), this movie marked the second collaboration of director Joe Dante and producer Michael Finnell with executive producer Steven Spielberg.
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The titles on the theater marquee are an in-joke for producer Steven Spielberg's benefit. A Boys Life was the working title for E.T., and Watch the Skies was the one for Close Encounters of the Third Kind. "I think we did this mainly so that when Steven saw the dailies he'd be happy."
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Cates recalls hearing some studio concerns that after Fast Times at Ridgemont High, she might not be "wholesome enough" to play Kate. Dante had seen the movie and felt that she was "awfully wholesome."
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The coloring of Gizmo, including the white patch of fur around the right eye, was directly modeled after one of Spielberg's dogs.
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Edward Andrews', Judge Reinhold's, and William Schallert's roles were reduced after this movie was edited.
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Deleted scenes and the film's novelization reveal that Mrs. Deagle (Polly Holliday) was forcing people out of their houses to sell the land to Hitox Chemical for the purpose of building a plant, effectively destroying Kingston Falls.
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A movie poster for Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) is seen near the television as Billy falls asleep after the Mogwai ate after midnight.
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There was the concern that audiences wouldn't "buy" the rules set forth for the title creatures. "One thing about movie audiences," says Dante, "they plunk down their money and they really do want to be entertained, and they really do want to have a good time, and you really have to make a series of catastrophic mistakes to lose them this early in the picture."
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The swimming pool scene was filmed at the Warner Bros. ranch, and Dante says he used the locale again for Small Soldiers. "I built Phil Hartman's house over it."
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Cates says kissing Galligan was like kissing your brother, and he blames a set visit from Spielberg for making him feel nervous. "As I recall, his main concern was to make sure Gizmo was in the shot," says Dante.
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Galligan is (jokingly) bitter because they shot a scene where Billy opens a second shade after Gizmo and actually kills Stripe. When he first watched the finished cut he was shocked to discover it had been edited so that the heroic move rests solely with Gizmo. "Would you like to take a guess as to whose idea that was?" asks Dante. "Um, no because I'd like to work again for him in the future," replies Galligan.
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Kenneth Tobey and Belinda Balaski appeared in Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990), playing different characters.
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The billboard of Rockin' Ricky Rialto at the start of the movie was done up like Indiana Jones. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) was shown at the Rialto Theater, and executive producer Steven Spielberg directed that movie.
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Final theatrical movie of Edward Andrews (Mr. Corben).
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Joe Dante never really liked the Gremlins logo.
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The character of Mrs. Deagle is a nod to the pre-reformed character of Ebenezer Scrooge from the classic Charles Dickens novel, "A Christmas Carol".
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In Young Sherlock Holmes (1985), an inventor builds inventions similar to Randall Peltzer's (a clockwork egg slicer he never got to patent, a spring-loaded device that turns the pages of a book with a timer that records the reader's pace, and a gas-fueled bedside coffeemaker) . Both movies were written by Chris Columbus, and may reflect his love of inventions, like in the James Bond film franchise, of which he and Steven Spielberg are big fans.
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It is said that they can't get wet, or if they do they breed, yet through the last third of the movie they're spending quite a bit of time in and around the snow.
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Phoebe Cates does not recall auditioning with Zach Galligan.
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Scott Brady, who plays the town's sheriff, is Lawrence Tierney's brother.
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There was originally more of a plot involving Billy's hopeful career as an artist.
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Galligan was almost beat out for the role by Emilio Estevez. Spielberg saw his audition tape though and said "Look, he's internalizing," which was apparently a bad thing. Judd Nelson also tried out but displayed a bit too much anger in his audition.
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The dog Mushroom wouldn't follow Galligan across the street, so they attached the pair with a mono-filament line.
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This is the second lost/sad father roles Hoyt Axton played after Black Stallion. In the early 70s he was famous for writing "Joy to the World" which was a big hit for Three Dog Night in 1970. Ironically, he shot Gremlins right when Joy to the World became the theme song to the #1 movie in the country, and a pop cultural phenomenon unto itself, The Big Chill.
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The picture of Rockin' Ricky Rialto is a picture of Don Steele.
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Dante wonders what happened to little John Louie who plays the shop owner's grandson and spoke about wanting to be a director. He became an M.D. instead.
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In the opening sequence, Peltzer passes by a broken down AMC Gremlin on the way to the old shop.
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Hoyt Axton was Dante's first choice for the role of Billy's father having seen and loved him as the dad in The Black Stallion. They auditioned others including Pat Hingle who gave the best reading and "played this character as a sort of Saroyan-esque, failed inventor whose life was fading fast, and he was brilliant, I mean he was incredible. He was so good we couldn't hire him because that wasn't what this character was about."
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The expression on Gizmo's face changes from time to time. This is because they had created a number of such faces and switched them from shot to shot as needed. Each face was designed to work with the animatronics in the head so the mouth could still move as needed.
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The two swords seen hanging on Peltzer's wall appear to be the same props used in the climactic battle between Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Angel (David Boreanaz) in the season two finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1996).
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Mandel had to record his dialogue in multiple languages for different territories. "I didn't think I was speaking English to begin with," he says. Dante adds that one of the reasons the movie did so well overseas is that they tailored parts of it specifically for each country. "So for instance in Germany in the bar scene they were singing German beer songs, and we found local jokes and local references."
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Galligan blamed the film's hair-stylist for his embarrassing "pre-Kirk Cameron" look.
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Final acting role of Scott Brady.
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The novelization for Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) mentioned being attacked by something with razor-sharp claws and vicious teeth. This could be a reference to the Gremlins of this movie. Also, an inventor, Waxflatter, hallucinates that gremlins sabotaged his ornithopter, which is a definite in-joke to this movie.
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Judge Reinhold and Phoebe Cates appeared in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982).
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The shot of Gizmo on the dartboard "was a little gift to the crew, they were so disgusted with Gizmo." .
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Galligan and Cates gave T-shirts to the cast and crew with "Hurry Hora!" written on them as a nod to Dante's constant refrain to cinematographer John Hora. "DPs love to light," says Dante. "They'll light as long as you let them light."
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Among the robots on the floor of the department store there is one that spins around. This is identical to the one in the Christmas stocking. The same robot was seen in Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), seven years earlier.
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When Stripe is hiding among the stuffed animals, the animals to either side of him are Warner Brothers character (this was a Warner Brothers film). The one that he pushes over and leans on is an ET stuffed character from Spielberg's earlier film, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982).
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Both Billy Peltzer and his father Randall drive rear-engined, air-cooled cars. Billy drives a VW Beetle and Mr. Peltzer drives a first-generation Chevrolet Corvair.
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Galligan recalls Cates teaching him the importance of always having your character add a little something to the scene, "so she bent down and she picked up a piece of sawdust and put it on my shoulder."
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When Billy follows Stripe into the department store, a hypnosis record titled 'Figure Control Record' by a so called 'Dr. Dante' can be seen on a shelf.
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Keye Luke, started in Hollywood as a mural artist. "His first picture was The Painted Veil." Galligan adds that beneath the makeup Luke "had incredible skin and looked very young" and asked the actor what his secret was. I braced myself for an "ancient Chinese secret!" joke, but instead Galligan reveals it was "no fried foods."
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The gas station attendant is played by Kenneth Tobey, who starred in many classic monster movies of the fifties, including The Thing from Another World (1951).
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The film was shot on the Universal lot the same time Walter Hill was shooting Streets of Fire.
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Galligan recalled Dante repeatedly telling him to close his mouth when he wasn't speaking. "The editor used to come up to me and say 'can't you get him to keep his mouth closed? He's always got his mouth open and I gotta cut around it!'" says Dante. The actor blames a book about Montgomery Clift.
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You can't get gremlins wet, yet it's never explained how they hang around for much of the movie in snow.
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John Louie played the Chinese boy in the beginning of the movie, he is seen wearing a New York Yankees hat. Coincidentally, Jonathan Ke Quan, who played Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), also wore a Yankees hat, and is Chinese. Both movies were released in 1984, and are connected to Steven Spielberg.
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Billy's car is a 1967 Volkswagen Sedan 'Beetle' [Type 1].
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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 Mr. 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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Mushroom, the Dog who plays Barney, is also the same dog that plays the role of Gypsy in Pumpkinhead.
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Dick Miller and Jackie Joseph appeared in The Little Shop of Horrors (1960).
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It debuted at #2 at the box office, but to be fair, it opened next to Ghostbusters, and remarkably, it only fell about one million dollars short of the top spot.
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They were pushing the envelope with technology. It wasn't until Joe Dante made Gremlins 2 (1990) that it had advanced to the point where they could get Gizmo running and dancing. The sets were generally built up off the floor, so the puppeteers could be underneath operating the monsters. They used marionettes in a couple of scenes, but they weren't especially convincing. Dante explained "Good puppetry is an art. When it's done as well as it was in Gremlins, CGI technology can't do it any better."
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On the commentary Joe Dante stated "Corey [Feldman] was at this point, before he was a teenage kid, when he was just a pubescent kid, was actually one of the best child actors in Hollywood." Just after Dante says this you can hear Feldman's character say "What happened?" It's the most perfectly-timed thing ever in the history of always.
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Judge Reinhold's part was originally much bigger, but currently he disappears around the halfway point for no reason after being set up as a bad guy. Also, this is the first time I realized that this film marks a reunion for Reinhold and Cates after 1982's Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
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GOOF: when billy is following stripe through the toy store, Stripe throws a saw which misses billy and cuts off a mannequins head, the next shot shows billy fall and knock off the same head, the shot then zooms out to show it fall off a third time all within a matter of a second.
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For Phoebe Cates, it was a more innocent role than her previous movies such as Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), but she was just a deeply terrified, inexperienced young actor doing her best not to get sacked. Probably the most nerve-racking scene to shoot was when the cinema where the Gremlins have been watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs blows up. Safety regulations were more lax on Hollywood sets back then. When she asked the explosives guy how big the explosion would be, he said: "Well, we've packed it pretty good." she thought: "What the hell does that mean?" she revealed "In the event, it was deafening. And the heat was so intense, I thought it had singed my eyebrows. It blew the doors off the theatre, as you can see in the film, and it shattered windows on a building at Universal a mile away."
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Acting opposite Gizmo wasn't difficult for Zach Galligan who stated, "because pretending a lifelike puppet is a live animal is no harder than pretending a woman you've just met has been your wife for 15 years. It was also beneficial having practical special effects, because I was reacting to a thing that was really there in front of me, as opposed to stuff you are attempting to imagine, as you would with CGI. You can even see it in the performance of the dog, Barney, which must be one of the top 10 animal performances in movies. He was convinced the puppets were real. The affection he had for me was genuine, too, because I'd spent days playing with him and petting him. Every time he saw me I was this endless treat machine."
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Zach Galligan already auditioned for parts with Phoebe Cates before and felt very comfortable with her. When it came to the session, he rested his head on her shoulder and gazed at the camera. Steven Spielberg said: "Oh my God, look at that! He's in love with her already. I don't need to see anything else."
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Joe Dante was down to his last few bucks before he got the directing job. Having already directed The Howling (1981), which had done well, but the company had gone out of business before they could pay him. When Steven Spielberg's script arrived, Dante was convinced he'd sent it to the wrong address.
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The only way to make the story believable was if it was completely stylised. Joe Dante insisted on shooting it on back lots, creating a small-town setting evoking Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life. He actually included a clip of that in the film, in case the audience didn't get the message.
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The original script was more gruesome, with Gizmo morphing into Stripe, the bad gremlin. But then Spielberg had the brilliant idea, which Dante think makes the picture remembered today, not to turn him into a monster but to have him carried around in the backpack of the hero Billy [Zach Galligan], like in a "boy and a dog" movie.
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Howie Mandel, who did the voice of Gizmo, already had a baby voice in his comedy repertoire, which Dante thinks they speeded up a bit. Howie's performance was a major part of making the creature credible. For Gizmo's singing, they auditioned loads of professionals, including an opera singer, but ended up using this little girl with a lovely voice found by Jerry Goldsmith, who wrote the score.
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At the preview, after the scene where one gremlin explodes in a microwave, a mother watching with her kid came storming up and shouted at Joe Dante that it was totally unsuitable for children. The Warner Brothers studio didn't get it at all, didn't think it was funny. But the picture became a phenomenon, one of the biggest of the year.
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In every movie where there is a dangerous animal caged up somewhere; there is always one person who is stupid enough to put their hand in the cage or box; and then there's a shocking scene where the animal starts to bite their arm off. The beginning of Jurassic Park has this scene; also Cat People has this scene; also Gremlins; also Creepshow.
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Zach Galligan was at a Las Vegas convention and there were three 15ft-high slot machines. Two were The Wizard of Oz and Lord of the Rings, the other was Gremlins. He thought: "Look where this little movie has come to sit in the pantheon of films."
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Zach Galligan used to be grumpy about being continually asked about being in the film. But now, to have been in a film that is the 80s equivalent of It's a Wonderful Life he says feels pretty amazing.
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Cameo 

Steven Spielberg: As the man in the electric wheelchair at the science convention when Randall is on the phone.
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Chuck Jones: The Warner Brothers animation legend makes a brief on-screen cameo in the scene with Billy (Zach Galligan) and Gerald (Judge Reinhold) trading insults.
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Spoilers 

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 Executive Producer 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.
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According to director Joe Dante, the mogwai/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.
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After Lynn Peltzer (Frances Lee McCain) 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.
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Human body count: 4 (confirmed)
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Gizmo watches a movie about a racecar driver, which inspires his final battle with Stripe. The movie he's watching is "To Please A Lady", starring Clark Gable.
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The Gremlins share an inner story where the major character is being threatened by an antagonistic woman determined to destroy their pet dog. In the Wizard of Oz the female is referred to as a "Wicked Old Witch". In Gremlins she is referred to as an old dragon.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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