From left to right: Chris Walas (Gremlins creator), Dick Miller (Murray Futterman), Joe Dante (director), Zach Galligan (Billy Peltzer) and Rick Baker (special effects supervisor: Gremlins 2: The New Batch).
This month marks the 30th anniversary for many fine films that came out of 1984, but Gremlins is one of our personal favorites. One of the earlier horror-comedy progenitors, the Joe Dante-directed and Steven Spielberg-produced film pushed boundaries with the MPAA (who created the PG-13 rating as a result of the movie’s more violent scenes), fusing pop culture, monster movie tropes, and sly social commentary.
Empire hosted a Gremlins reunion celebrating the movie’s 30th, bringing together Dante, stars Zach Galligan and Dick Miller, special effects wizard Rick Baker (Gremlins 2), and Gremlins designer Chris Walas (who created the famous exploding Gremlin in the microwave). The interview with the cast and crew is featured in the new issue of the magazine, but one fun tidbit revealed on Empire‘s website involves… monkeys. Read this hilarious anecdote about creating the Gremlins themselves:
Dante: Chris and I had worked together since Piranha, and we were planning a 3D remake of Creature From The Black Lagoon. Then Gremlins came along. It was a good job, but there just wasn’t a lot of budget. All these creatures had to be created and we had no idea how we were going to do it.
Walas: Weren’t you thinking about monkeys?
Dante: First we talked about stop-motion. Then realised we’d still be shooting if we did that. And at one point someone — I hope it wasn’t me — suggested we try monkeys in Gremlin suits.
Rick Baker: Hey, it worked in (Laurel and Hardy movie) Babes In Toyland.
Dante: But that one just had a Mickey Mouse head on. We actually did get a monkey and put a head on him and watched him careen around the editing room, pooping on everything in terror. We decided it wasn’t really going to work out.
Baker: Sounds good to me!
While you’re in a Gremlins frame of mind, check out this cool easter egg spotted by a Slash Film reader. Take a closer look at Billy Peltzer’s (Zach Galligan) jeans. The button features the same logo as Spielberg’s production company, Amblin Entertainment, which is a tribute to the director’s 1982 film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. It’s not easy to spot due to the shadow, but we’re delighted to know it’s there.