Part horror flick, part comedy, part holiday film, Gremlins is one of those movies that has a little something for everyone. The Spielberg-produced 80s classic was a hit when it debuted, securing itself a placement as one of the highest-grossing blockbusters of 1984, behind such franchise giants as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Ghostbusters. It followed the Pletzer family of Kingston Falls who, after inviting a mysterious creature into their household, are forced to confront the ramifications of their purchase when it multiples into dozens of demons.
Audiences couldn't get enough of the gross-out humor and revolting shenanigans of the gremlins, the creature effects, or the over the top nature of the holiday farce. As entertaining as the film is, there are aspects of it that are dated to audiences today. Some of the gremlin effects are painfully hokey, some of the fashion screams 80s, and who gets excited about cable today? Here are 10 things about Gremlins that haven't aged well.
10 Cable Being A Big Deal
Gremlins takes place in smalltown, USA, so Billy Peltzer having a Mogwai is probably the most exciting thing since... cable? The film takes place in the '80s, so, having cable was something of a big deal because, otherwise, everyone gathered around their television for a few channels and some static.
Judge Reinhold plays some smarmy VP at Billy's bank, giving him an unending mountain of verbal abuse and trying to get Phoebe Cates to go out with him instead of poor Billy. So, what does he use to ingratiate himself to Ms. Cates? The fact that he has cable now.
9 The Gremlins
After Billy and his brother Pete (Cory Feldman) accidentally get his Mogwai wet, they discover what the old man at the oddities store cautioned about it; one Gremlin turns into five Gremlins, with the mean-spirited Stripe as their defacto ring leader.
As adorable as the Gremlins are, and as good as the puppeteering of them was for the day, they still look more like adorable Furby toys than actual terrifying supernatural creatures. Even later on, the jerky stop motion and lizard-like appearances don't help make them any more lethal.
8 The Bathroom Buddy
Mr. Peltzer is something of a mad scientist/Doc Brown inventor in his workshop, conceiving of all sorts of strange and unusual gadgets that he tries to impress his family with. He develops the Bathroom Buddy, the Swiss Army Knife of toiletries, to "revolutionize" travel and save consumers hours on grooming.
The fact that the gadget is as big as a person's toiletry bag already is the least of its problems. Its made from gaudy plastic and looks like a cross between a pager and a child's toy. Even for the 80s, no discerning traveler would buy this monstrosity.
7 Hill Valley
The town where the film takes place, Kingston Falls, is something out of the Andy Griffith Show. It's corny and quaint, and, while it services well for a Christmas story, with its single post office, drug store, and bank, it's the same sort of set used for dozens of 80s films.
If it looks familiar, it's because from the clock tower on down, it's the same set for another quaint town: Hill Valley from the Back to the Future films. It's even populated by all the same stereotypes: the miserly Mrs. Beagle who hates Christmas, the selfish bank manager, etc.
6 The Fashion
From Billy's tweed blazer he wears at the bank (is he 17 or 65?), to Kate's ruffled neo-Victorian blouse and clip-in plastic barrettes, 80s fashion is everywhere. And, because Steven Spielberg watched a lot of It's A Wonderful Life before making this Christmas classic, lots of characters look like they stepped out of the 1940s.
The anachronistic and vintage fashion of that time period was alive and well in the 80s, so it wouldn't be uncommon for Mrs. Beagle to wear pillbox hats or Jack at the bank to wear an obnoxious fur-lined overcoat. It doesn't have the same charm today.
5 The Gremlins Hatching
It's a strange occurrence watching what look like dryer balls exploding out of Gizmo's back, grow into melon-sized furballs, and unfurl like daisies in the sun. The process may have been incredible for its time, but now the methods of making the movie magic are too transparent.
Audiences today are very aware of the fact that the Gremlins are puppets and animatronic components. They can only move in certain positions, have very simple ranges of motion, and often don't look any different than the dolls created for the film's release—which was probably intentional.
4 Mr. Futterman
The racist, chauvinistic neighbor of Billy's hates foreign cars, hates anything un-American, and likes to shamelessly hit on young women at the bar. While there are sleeze-balls like him everywhere, the film gives him a particularly wide berth.
He's geared towards being a sympathetic character in the film, his behavior excused because of the fact that he's depressed, and Kate's worried he'll commit suicide. Today, there'd be a scene were someone questions his actions or his word choice, if the character was even included at all.
3 The Corny Plot
For audiences used to a faster pace, the plot may not prove engaging enough. It's also predictable; the Gremlins are brought into the Peltzer's home, Billy does everything the old man at the oddities shop told him not to do, and then he has to save his town from their shenanigans.
Billy's entire life is also incredibly mundane and predictable, from being given juice by his Susie Homemaker-type mother who stays at home baking cookies all day, to him trying to "support his entire family" on his bank job and drawing comic books.
2 The Bar Scene
While the Gremlins are out terrorizing Kingston Falls, the eventually wind up at the local bar where Kate works (presumably the only one in town). They proceed to break everything in sight, drink everything in sight, and one Gremlin is seen smoking several cigarettes at once.
What was no doubt supposed to seem like real "bad" stuff to kids of the 80s seems pretty tame now. Maybe the only no-no would be smoking indoors? You could actually do that in bars of that era. The whole idea that this scene was considered crass makes it more comical now.
1 Chinese Stereotypes
When first we meet Rand Peltzer, he's being taken to an oddities shop by a young boy, the grandson of the owner, in fact. He looks suspiciously like Short Round from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and you half expected him to say, "Okie Dokie, Doctor Jones".
But the stereotypes are all confined to the store and the zen-like kernels of wisdom dispensed by the old Chinese man who owns it. He wears a long robe, a round hat, a long wispy beard, and says things like, "With Mogwai comes great responsibility".