Gremlins was a 1984 Warner Brothers Horror Comedy Directed by Joe Dante and produced by Steven Spielberg. This was one of the first movies to receive a PG-13 rating.
The movie takes inspiration from the World War Two lore of Gremlins; creatures that are mischievous and known to damage or destroy things when no one is looking.
The movie furthers this lore by introducing a species known as Mogwai. The Mogwai are cute, furry and cuddly, but if certain rules aren’t followed when handling the Mogwai, they will go into a cocoon and later emerge as a more menacing and violent reptilian creature.
The story follows a young man named Billy whose father gives him a Mogwai named Gizmo as a Christmas gift. Billy’s father acquired the Mogwai from an antique store in Chinatown.
The store is owned and operated by an old man named Mr. Wing, played by veteran Actor Keye Luke. Technically, Mr. Wing is only known as “Grandfather” in the first Gremlins movie and his name is revealed in the sequel. Mr. Wing’s grandson sold the Mogwai to Billy’s father without his permission. At least Mr. Wing’s grandson told Billy’s father the rules for taking care of a Mogwai:
There are three rules:
1. No bright light. Bright light hurts him, and sunlight can kill him.
2. Don’t get him wet, and
3. Never feed him after midnight, no matter how much he begs.
Later on Billy’s friend accidentally spills water on Gizmo the Mogwai and he begins to multiply. Several balls of fur pop out of Gizmo’s back in what appears to be a very painful way to reproduce!
The new Mogwai begin to cause trouble around Billy’s room and end up eating after Midnight, thanks to a trick they pulled where they damaged Billy’s clock. Since the Mogwai ate after midnight, they take the form of cocoons and later emerge as Gremlins! It is now up to Billy, Kate and Gizmo to stop the Gremlins before they destroy the whole town!
The movie is filled with dark humor and satire, especially in the third act, where the Gremlins cause mayhem all over town. The Gremlins effects were mostly achieved with in-camera practical effects and puppetry. Voice Actors Frank Welker and Howie Mandell played Stripe and Gizmo, respectively. There has been some confusion regarding the Gremlin villain Stripe, as most remembered him referred to as “Spike” on occasion. Gremlins was a box office success and spawned an insane sequel called Gremlins 2: The New Batch…
… but that is a topic for another time!
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