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Gremlins turns 30

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This year marks the 30th anniversary of the classic comedic horror movie Gremlins.

The movie’s director, Joe Dante, had previously scored with the hit films Piranha (1978) and The Howling (1981). This led to Steven Spielberg hiring him to direct this movie, which was produced by Spielberg’s company Amblin Entertainment.

A down-on-his-luck inventor (Hoyt Axton) is searching for a unique Christmas gift for his son Billy (Zach Galligan). He finds such a gift at an antique shop, a cuddly creature called a Mogwai (which is the Cantonese word for ‘monster’). But the shop’s owner refuses to sell the creature, named Gizmo, claiming that great responsibility comes with caring for a Mogwai.

But the owner’s grandson clandestinely allows Gizmo to be purchased on the condition that three rules are followed:

1. Never expose it to bright light, especially sunlight, which is lethal to it.
2. Never get it wet.
3. Never feed it after midnight.

Billy happily accepts his father’s gift, and he and Gizmo quickly become close. Shortly afterward, however, a freak accident causes Gizmo to become wet, which leads to the creation of more Mogwai. These prove more mischievous than Gizmo as they eventually trick Billy into feeding them after midnight.

As a result, they metamorphose into the title creatures, which just as mischievous and very dangerous.

The Gremlins proceed to make the upcoming holiday season anything but merry as they wreck havoc through Billy’s town, while he, Gizmo and Billy’s girlfriend Kate (Phoebe Cates) attempt to stop their rampage.

The movie came under fire from some, who objected to its horrific moments. Ironically, the film’s original script, written by Chris Columbus, was even more horrific, with such moments as the Gremlins killing both Billy’s mother and dog as well as Gizmo becoming a Gremlin himself.

These protests, along with similar ones directed at the same year’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (which Spielberg directed), led to the creation of the PG-13 rating.

The movie itself would be followed by an equally enjoyable sequel, Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990), also directed by Dante and starring Galligan and Cates.

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