For this week’s “Things That Bring Back Memories” post, I am going to pick something in the topic of “MOVIES” and go with “Gremlins“. This movie was released in 1984, and was one that so many remember that were from “back in the day”.
Gremlins was one that either freaked you out completely, or made you laugh so hard that you started crying. It always amazes me how you look back at the way movies were made years ago, and what a difference there is in today’s market. Not a lot of digital enhancement, no computer graphics, etc. A very different time, in the way movies were created.
If, for some reason, you are of an age that makes it difficult to remember the Gremlins movie, here’s a preview of what it was about:
Did you ever watch the Gremlins movie when you were younger? or have you seen it on TV or Netflix later in life? Let me know what you thought of it, and if you have any memories of it in your life!
More Info on the Movie:
Gremlins is a 1984 American horror comedy film directed by Joe Dante, released by Warner Bros. The film is about a young man who receives a strange creature called a mogwai as a pet, which then spawns other creatures who transform into small, destructive, evil monsters. This story was continued with a sequel, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, released in 1990. Unlike the lighter sequel, the original Gremlins opts for more black comedy, which is balanced against a Christmas-time setting. Both films were the center of large merchandising campaigns.
Steven Spielberg was the film’s executive producer and the screenplay was written by Chris Columbus. The film stars Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates, with Howie Mandel providing the voice of Gizmo, the main mogwai character. Gremlins was a commercial success and received positive reviews from critics. However, the film was also heavily criticized for some of its more violent sequences. In response to this and to similar complaints about Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Spielberg suggested that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) alter its rating system, which it did within two months of the film’s release.
Searching for an unusual Christmas present for his 21-year-old son, struggling inventor Randall Peltzer discovers a small, furry creature called a “Mogwai” (“monster”) in a Chinatown antique store. The owner refuses to sell the Mogwai, saying that owning one is a great responsibility. However, as Randall is leaving the store, the owner’s grandson sells Randall the creature, explaining that his family needs the money. There are three specific instructions for looking after Mogwai: never expose it to bright light (especially sunlight, which will kill it), never let it touch water (that will cause it to multiply), and most importantly: no matter how much it cries or begs, never feed it after midnight.
Randall takes the Mogwai to his family in the town of Kingston Falls; being an inventor, he names it “Gizmo”. Randall gives Gizmo to his son Billy and tells him the three rules he must obey. A glass of water is accidentally spilled on Gizmo, causing him to convulse and produce five new Mogwai from his own body. Their temperament is very different from Gizmo’s; they torment the family’s pet dog. One of the new Mogwai, dubbed Stripe for his white quiff of hair, acts as their leader and is very hostile to Gizmo.
Wanting to learn more, Billy takes one of the Mogwai to his former science teacher, Mr. Hanson. When Billy drops water on the Mogwai from a pipette, he produces a sixth new Mogwai. Leaving with Mr. Hanson this new Mogwai, on which he will conduct tests, Billy returns home. He meets up on the way with his friend Kate Beringer, who works at a tavern; she agrees to a date.
When Billy tries to study in his bedroom, the five new Mogwai are very excitable. They trick Billy into feeding them after midnight by biting through the power cord of his alarm clock, causing him to believe it’s earlier than it actually is. In the morning, Billy discovers that the creatures have cocooned. Gizmo, having virtuously refused to eat, remains unchanged.
In the meantime, the sixth new Mogwai undergoes tests at the hands of Mr. Hanson, who clocks off after two o’clock in the morning. When Mr. Hanson finishes work, the Mogwai steals his unfinished sandwich and cocoons itself. Later, it hatches and breaks out of its cage, hiding in the dark corners of the room. Hanson tries to reason with it and bribe it with a candy bar, but the creature eats it and his hand. Billy arrives and finds the Mogwai has turned into a reptilian monster. Elsewhere, the other Mogwai have hatched into “gremlins”, mischievous reptilian monsters. They attack Billy’s mother, who is able to escape with Billy’s help, and most of the gremlins are killed. Stripe escapes, and Billy chases him to the local YMCA, where Stripe eludes him and leaps into a swimming pool, creating hundreds of new gremlins who go on a rampage, causing the deaths of multiple town residents, which are referred to as “freak accidents”. Billy rescues Kate when the gremlins overrun the tavern where she works. Billy, Kate, and Gizmo discover the gremlins are enjoying Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in the local theater. They set off an explosion that kills the gremlins and destroys the theater, but their celebrations are cut short when Kate spots Stripe in the window of a nearby Montgomery Ward store.
Billy follows and battles Stripe in the store’s greenhouse, where the small monster climbs atop a water fountain intending to multiply again. As he is just about to multiply, however, Gizmo arrives in a toy car and opens a sky light on the ceiling, causing sunlight to pour into the store, killing Stripe. As the Peltzers recover from the rampage, the antique store owner arrives to claim Gizmo, saying that the Western world is not yet ready for the responsibilities that come with caring for a Mogwai, but that Billy may someday be ready to care for Gizmo properly; Gizmo likewise believes so, having become attached to Billy. The final scene shows the store owner walking away with Gizmo in tow, accompanied by a voiceover of Randall saying, “Well, that’s the story. So if your air conditioner goes on the fritz, or your washing machine blows up, or your video recorder conks out; before you call the repairman turn on all the lights, check all the closets and cupboards, look under all the beds, ’cause you never can tell; there just might be a gremlin in your house”.
Some of the Characters:
Zach Galligan (Billy Peltzer) was born in New York City, the son of Carol Jean, a psychologist, and Arthur John Galligan, a lawyer who was a founding partner of the law firm of Dickstein Shapiro. He has a sister, Jessica, and graduated from Columbia University. Galligan’s breakthrough role was as Billy Peltzer in the Steven Spielberg-produced 1984 blockbuster Gremlins. Following the first Gremlins film, Galligan appeared in Nothing Lasts Forever. In 1988 he starred as Mark Loftmore in the horror comedy Waxwork. He reprised his role as Billy Peltzer in the 1990 sequel Gremlins 2: The New Batch. Married Ling H. Ingerick on September 25, 2005 at the Yale Club in New York. Ling is half Chinese and also of Swedish, Cherokee (N. American) and German descent. She works for a hedge fund in New York.
Phoebe Cates (Kate Beringer) was born on July 16, 1963 in New York City, New York, and raised there. She is the daughter of Lily and Joseph Cates, who was a Broadway producer and television pioneer. Her uncle was director/producer Gilbert Cates. Phoebe is of Chinese-Filipino (from her maternal grandfather) and Russian Jewish descent. She studied at Miss Hewitt’s school and at the Professional Children’s School in New York City. She took classes at Julliard when she was ten-years-old for three and a half years until a knee injury forced her to stop. Phoebe had been a busy New York model starting at the age of fourteen. She actively pursued her modeling career, until she met her film agent at a party at New York’s Studio 54. She trains with Robert Ravan, founder of The Actors’ Circle in New York. Previously she studied with Alice Spivack of the H.B. Studios. Cates made her motion picture debut as Sarah in Paradise (1982) in the same year she starred as Jennifer Jason Leigh’s “experienced” confidante in Amy Heckerling’s acclaimed Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982). Cates then landed the role of “Christine Ramsey” in Private School (1983), then co-starred in the innovative Gremlins (1984) for Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment, directed by Joe Dante. Cates has remained active in theatre, as well. On the West Coast, Cates played “Nina” in the La Jolla Playhouse production of Anton Chekhov’s “The Sea Gull” and has since appeared in “Much Ado About Nothing” at New York’s Public Theatre, and as “Juliet” in Chicago’s Goodman Theatre production of “Romeo and Juliet”. Since 1989, Cates has been married to actor Kevin Kline, with whom she has two children.
Hoyt Axton (Randall Peltzer) (March 25, 1938 – October 26, 1999) was an American folk music singer-songwriter, and a film and television actor. He became prominent in the early 1960’s, establishing himself on the West Coast as a folk singer with an earthy style and powerful voice. As he matured, some of his songwriting efforts became well known throughout the world. Among them were “Joy to the World”, “The Pusher”, “No No Song”, “Greenback Dollar”, and “Never Been to Spain”. Born in Duncan, Oklahoma, Axton spent his pre-teen years in Comanche, Oklahoma, with his brother, John. His mother, Mae Boren Axton, co-wrote the classic rock ‘n’ roll song “Heartbreak Hotel”, which became the first major hit for Elvis Presley. Some of Hoyt’s own songs were also later recorded by Elvis. Axton’s father, John T. Axton, was a Naval officer stationed in Jacksonville, Florida; the family joined him there in 1949. Axton graduated from Robert E. Lee High School in 1956 and left town after Knauer’s Hardware burned down on graduation night, a prank gone wrong. Axton attended Oklahoma State for a short length of time before following his father and enlisting in the Navy. Axton served aboard the USS Ranger before pursuing a music career. Hoyt Axton died of a heart attack in Victor, Montana, on October 26, 1999, at the age of 61, after suffering a severe heart attack two weeks earlier.
Did You Know?
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.
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).
After watching his earlier short films, Steven Spielberg considered Tim Burton to direct the film. But decided against it because at the time Burton had never directed a full feature length film.
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 girl member of Goldsmith’s congregation was hired to sing Gizmo’s song, although she had never worked in films before.
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.
Though he followed the basic outline of the script, Hoyt Axton is said to have improvised nearly all his lines.
In the bar scene, the video game the gremlin is playing is star wars.
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 Spielberg’s E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind respectively.
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