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Gremlins is a 1984 American comedy horror film classic directed by Joe Dante and written by Chris Columbus. It draws on legends of folkloric mischievous creatures that cause malfunctions—"gremlins"—in the British Royal Air Force going back to World War II and stars Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates, with Howie Mandel providing the voice of Gizmo, the main mogwai character. The story follows a young man who receives a strange creature as a pet, which then spawns other creatures who transform into small, destructive, aggressive monsters that all wreak havoc on a whole town on Christmas Eve.

The film was the center of large merchandising campaigns and opts for black comedy, balanced against a Christmas time setting. Steven Spielberg was the film's executive producer, with the film being produced by Michael Finnell.

Gremlins was theatrically released on June 8, 1984 by Warner Bros. to both critical and commercial success. However, it was 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, creating a new PG-13 rating. It was followed by a sequel, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, which uses a more satirical tone and parodies Hollywood sequels.


Struggling inventor Randall Peltzer visits a Chinatown antique store, hoping to find a Christmas present for his son Billy. Inside, Randall encounters a small, furry creature called a mogwai. The owner, Mr. Wing, refuses to sell Randall the creature, but his grandson secretly overrules him, warning Randall to remember three important rules: do not expose the mogwai to light, especially sunlight, which will kill it; do not let it come in contact with water; and above all, never feed it after midnight.

Randall returns home to Kingston Falls where he gives the mogwai to Billy as a pet. Billy works in the local bank, but fears that his dog Barney will be put down by the elderly miser Mrs. Deagle. Randall names the mogwai "Gizmo", explains the three rules he was told, and Billy makes sure to treat him well. When Billy's young friend Pete accidentally spills water over Gizmo, five more mogwai spawn from his back, a more troublemaking sort led by the aggressive Stripe, named after the tuft of fur on his head. Billy shows one of the mogwai to his former science teacher, Mr. Hanson, spawning another mogwai, on whom Hanson experiments. Back at home, Stripe and his fellow mogwai trick Billy into feeding them after midnight by severing the power cord to his bedside clock. They form cocoons, as does Hanson's mogwai, which soon hatch and they emerge as mischievous, reptilian monsters known as 'gremlins', who then torture Gizmo and attack Billy's mother, Lynn, while Hanson is killed by his gremlin.

Lynn and Billy are able to kill off the gremlins, except for Stripe, who escapes to a local YMCA. There, Stripe jumps into a swimming pool, spawning an army of gremlins who wreak havoc in Kingston Falls. Many people are injured or outright killed by the gremlins' rampage, including Mrs. Deagle.

As Billy rescues his girlfriend, Kate Beringer, they hide in the now-abandoned bank where Kate reveals to Billy and Gizmo why she hates Christmas: when she was nine-years old, her father went missing on Christmas Eve and did not come home on Christmas Day either; several days later, he was found dead in their chimney while dressed as Santa Claus. Planning to surprise her and her mother, he had accidentally slipped and broken his neck while climbing down the chimney. Still suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder because of the event, Kate confesses this is how she discovered the truth about Santa Claus.

Billy and Kate discover that the town has fallen silent and the gremlins are watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in the local theater. They set off an explosion, killing all the gremlins except for Stripe, who left to obtain more candy at a Montgomery Ward store across the street. As morning approaches, Billy chases Stripe into the store, where Stripe attempts to use a water fountain to spawn more gremlins. Gizmo opens a skylight, exposing Stripe to sunlight, killing him.

Afterwards, Mr. Wing arrives to retrieve Gizmo as he criticizes the Peltzers' carelessness and states that Western society cannot responsibly care for mogwai yet. However, as he turns to leave, Gizmo, having bonded with Billy, bids him goodbye. A touched Mr. Wing then concedes that Billy alone may be ready one day, and promises that, until then, Gizmo will be waiting.