What do a new family pet, Howie Mandel, and Christmas have in common? They’re all part of the (currently) two-film story of Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch. Being released in 1984 (on the same day as another classic horror comedy - Ghostbusters) and 1990, both movies have endured the test of time. Thanks in part to horror inspired lunacy and a cute and cuddly Mogwai that nearly every kid who grew up during this time wanted as their very own.
Like plenty of other properties from the eighties, a remake or a reboot or a sequel or combination of all three has been in some stage of development for quite some time now. Time will tell if it ever gets off the ground, let alone holds up. In the meantime, here are 10 Details You Might Not Know About The Gremlins Movies.
10 Tim Burton’s Gremlins
After the success of his initial short film, Vincent, the most popular gothic director of our time, Tim Burton has found himself on a short list of directors to direct Gremlins. Considering his love of demented Christmas and strange critters, Burton might have been uniquely qualified to bring Chris Columbus’ story to life. But as much as producer Steven Spielberg enjoyed Vincent, he wanted to bring on a director who had made at least one full-length feature.
9 Gizmo The Hero
It seems like a completely bad move now, but so did the original scripts didn’t feature Gizmo as the cute and cuddly little Mogwai hero that everyone would come to know and love.
Some of the original story ideas featured Gizmo and Stripe, the head Gremlin being one and the same. That is until, Spielberg played his producer card and suggested to director Joe Dante that the lil’ furry guy should be the hero of the story.
8 Monkeys In Gremlin Suits
With CGI in its larvae stage at the time, the creative team had to think of a creative way to get the Gremlins from script to screen. Before the very expensive puppets were decided on, the studio tried to skirt some of the budget and go with supposedly trained and working monkeys. While plenty of people in the entertainment industry subscribe to the idea that its hardest to work with children and animals, that didn’t stop Joe Dante from putting a Mogwai mask on a Rhesus Macaque. The little guy made a mess of Dante’s editing room, and the team decided that puppets would be the best way to go.
7 Mike Ehrmantraut
Aside from Winston in Pulp Fiction, the coolest fixer in all of cinema and TV was Mike Ehrmantraut of Breaking Bad fame. Played with a quiet swagger by Jonathan Banks, Mike instantly became of one of the show’s standout supporting characters. But of his backlog of material includes an appearance in Gremlins, and with hair no less! He played Deputy Brent in the first film.
6 The End Of The World Is Real
With the diminutive monsters running all over the Clamp Building, owner and business magnate, Daniel Clamp believes that the world is coming to and end. What does a businessman/newsman do in an event like this? Right - he cues up a brief video thanking all of the viewers for watching prior to Armageddon of course. While there are all kinds of cartoon-like gags happening in Gremlins 2, this one is rooted in fact. CNN, once owned by Ted Turner at one point actually had a similar message ready to be cued up in the event of the coming apocalypse.
5 Spielberg Double Feature
Steven Spielberg didn’t just direct our childhoods during the eighties, he produced them too. While he didn’t direct Gremlins or Back To The Future, both films take place in the same town (Kingston Falls and Hill Valley, respectively).
At the movie theater during Gremlins, there are two amazing movies playing, just under their original working titles - ET, once called “A Boy’s Life,” and Close Encounters, which was being filmed as “Watch The Skies.”
4 Varying Levels Of “Wet”
When Billy is given his new cute pet Mogwai, Gizmo, he came with a set of rules. Just like any pet, Gizmo needed to be cared for in a specific way. Don’t get him wet, don’t feed him after midnight, and don’t expose them to bright light. Aside from having a nocturnal pet that you can’t feed at night, not getting him wet means having never getting to clean him. But how strict are these rules, and what time zone are they based on? What happens if you feed Gizmo at 9:30PM on the West Coast, it’s already past midnight on the East Coast.
3 Helped Create The PG-13 Rating
Back in the early eighties, the MPAA had G, PG, R, and then the more adult ratings. But they didn’t have a rating designed for movies like Indiana Jones, or Gremlins. Films that definitely were not for little kids, but not quite “R-Rated” material either. Gremlins was rated PG, but it took Spielberg and Dante convincing the ratings board. Spielberg has also suggested that there be some sort of new rating and the PG-13 rating debuted shortly after, being used for the film, Red Dawn.
2 Chris Columbus Script
Not only was Chris Columbus script inspired by the mouse scurrying around his New York apartment at night, some of the scenes were decidedly not PG, much less PG-13.
The creepy little monsters originally ate the family dog, among several other darker and gorier scenes. Dante and Spielberg both were looking for something a little less gruesome and had Columbus rewrite the draft.
1 The Chimney Speech
During the movie, Phoebe Cates’ Kate explains a horrible story about her dad, Santa, and a chimney. Kate’s dad dressed as Santa and tried to head down the chimney but broke his neck instead and wasn’t found until Christmas morning. It was a dark speech, and perhaps too dark for any kids’ movie. Spielberg kept trying to get the scene cut from the movie. But Dante persisted, praising Cates’ deadpan delivery. He believed that her performance in the scene helped to sell the chaotic nature of the film. Was she delivering an old, horrible joke or incredibly serious?