As we approach Christmas, horror fans are gravitating towards Gremlins as a subversive holiday classic and a source of infinite nostalgia. The mogwai Gizmo has become an unlikely and enduring genre hero, but director Joe Dante just revealed how things could have turned out much differently. Apparently, in the first draft of the screenplay, Gizmo became the bad guy; in fact, Gizmo became Stripe, the leader of the evil gremlins, and a legitimately terrifying creeper.
If the idea of an evil Gizmo sounds sacrilegious, you can thank Steven Spielberg for the for insisting the diminutive mogwai remained heroic.
“We invented a way to get Gizmo to move,” Dante told fellow filmmaker Mike Williamson. “But the problem was that Gizmo was supposed to, in the original script, turn into Stripe, the bad Gremlin, after about 20 minutes, and that was they that we planned to do the movie…But Steven Spielberg got it into his head, after seeing all of our tests with Gizmo, that he liked Gizmo so much that he said, ‘You know, we really shouldn’t get rid of him, he should stick around and be the hero’s pal for the entire picture.’ Which was terrifying for us, because we were about four weeks away from shooting, and we had no idea how to make this puppet, which was really small, carry a movie, and be a character, basically.”
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Fans of Gremlins will be able to catch up with Gizmo and the gang as Gremlins has returned to US Theaters beginning today and running through the end of the month; you can find participating theaters and purchase tickets, HERE. If it’s been a while, peep the trailer and synopsis below.
Official Synopsis: A gadget salesman is looking for a special gift for his son and finds one at a store in Chinatown. The shopkeeper is reluctant to sell him the “mogwai” but sells it to him with the warning to never expose him to bright light, water, or to feed him after midnight. All of this happens and the result is a gang of gremlins that decide to tear up the town on Christmas Eve.
Beginning life as a spec script by Chris Columbus that was championed by executive producer Steven Spielberg, what’s amazing about GREMLINS is how everything works so, so well. Joe Dante’s cast is splendid, featuring newcomer Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, and the voices of Howie Mandel as Gizmo and Frank Welker as the big bad gremlin Stripe. The magic (and terror) gets brought to life via the pioneering pre-CGI creature work by Chris Walas, all punctuated by composer extraordinaire Jerry Goldsmith’s incredible score.
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