There’s been a ton of press devoted to the 30th anniversary of Ghostbusters this year, and rightly so: it’s one of the best, most successful, and most influential comedies of all time, and it still holds up beautifully three decades later. It’s not the only gem from my childhood that’s turning 30 this year, however. Another flick that was on regular rotation in my household is Joe Dante’s Gremlins, and the cast and crew of Gremlins recently reunited for an anniversary photoshoot, part of which you can see above.
Yeah, Gremlins is 30 years old. If you’re like me, that number may be more effective at making you feel ancient than an entire barrage of pre-teens who can’t figure out why the Twitter hashtag button was on phones before there was Twitter. Gremlins originally released in theaters on June 8, 1984, the same weekend as the aforementioned Ghostbusters. As if those two wouldn’t make picking your tickets hard enough, that was also one week after Star Trek III: The Search for Spock premiered.
The picture comes courtesy of Empire Magazine, who gathered the cast and crew for a Gremlins reunion photoshoot, of which the image up top is only part. The photo was shot by Austin Hargrave, with digital artwork by Justin Metz and puppets by Bob & Cathy Burns. In addition to the pictures, Empire sat down to talk with the cast and crew, who looked back on a project they admit was not easy to get made. Director Joe Dante recalls, “Let’s just say the studio was unconvinced that this was a great idea for a movie. They did it mainly to make (executive producer) Steven Spielberg happy. So we were a little over-extended.”
Gremlins creature designer Chris Walas puts it even more bluntly:
I pulled out the first draft the other day and read it. And I have no idea how I could be so stupid as to commit to that project, I’d written one word on the front cover: ‘HA!’ I didn’t think it could be done. The technology didn’t exist. I didn’t have a shop or a crew. But I was desperate for money.
Let’s be glad Walas was strapped for cash: he gave us some of the most recognizable and and fondly remembered critters of the ’80s (no, not those Critters). In addition to the adorable Mogwai Gizmo, we got assorted varieties of the “evil” Gremlins such as Stripe, variations that carried on in the 1990 sequel Gremlins 2: The New Batch. Let’s also be glad that the Gremlins teams decided not to run with one of their early ideas: to put Gremlins costumes on monkeys. As Dante puts it, “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.”
You can read more of the Gremlins interviews and see more pictures in the August 2014 issue of Empire Magazine, which is available now.
Finally, here’s one last amusing Gremlins tidbit. It turns out the original poster for Gremlins contained a very cool little Easter egg you probably never noticed. Check it out below.
Can’t see anything? Take a closer look at the guy’s crotch. No, really.
What’s that lurking on his jeans button? Yep, that’s the unmistakable silhouette of E.T. and Elliot flying on their bike in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, which is also the symbol of Steven Spielberg’s production company, Amblin Entertainment. Spielberg, of course, was an executive producer on Gremlins. Kudos to the eagle eyes at /Film for spotting it.