In 1984, Joe Dante gained mainstream success with the release of Gremlins. The film grossed $153 million against a production budget of $11 million. Gremlins was a pop culture sensation that spawned a sequel in 1990 and talks of a third film that have persisted ever since. Needless to say, Gremlins is part of the ’80s fabric of nostalgia that many people love today.
A once thought-to-be-lost, behind-the-scenes video recently surfaced on the Internet. It’s unclear where the behind-the-scenes video originated from, but it is believed that it could have been part of a TV special in the early ’80s. Regardless of its origins, it’s interesting to take a look back at the film and its amazing practical special effects.
The video features director Joe Dante and the film’s producer, Steven Spielberg. A majority of the video takes place at the very beginning of the film where Randall “Rand” Peltzer (Hoyt Axton) goes to Chinatown to buy his son Billy a new and exciting Christmas gift. To the featurette’s credit, they rarely show the Gremlins themselves, only a very brief look at the film’s central villain, Stripe. I guess the production didn’t want to show off the film’s most adorable character, Gizmo.
Joe Dante talking about old Bugs Bunny cartoons is one of the most interesting things about the video. Many of Dante’s sensibilities comes from the offbeat and madcap tone of old Warner Bros. cartoons. If you take a look at its sequel, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, you can see the sharp shift in tone between the two films. The sequel plays out more like a Warner Bros. cartoon, wherein as the original plays off the horror genre. (Dante would later direct the live-action/animated adventure hybrid Looney Tunes: Back in Action in 2003.)
Steven Spielberg is featured in the video as he geeks out over the story of the film. It seems as if he knows Gremlins will be a successful film once it’s released during the summer of 1984 — on the same weekend as Ghostbusters, actually. Other movies released during that summer include Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Karate Kid, and The Last Starfighter. The human stars of Gremlins, Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates, also appear in the video.
There’s not much on the Gremlins front since Warner Bros. announced that there would be a new Gremlins movie in the works a few months ago. The new film would be a remake of the 1984 classic with new CGI special effects. It was initially believed we would be getting the much-rumored Gremlins 3, but as it turned out, they’re going the reboot route instead.
At the moment, Steven Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment still own the rights to the Gremlins property. So if a new film will be made, Spielberg will most likely be on board as the new film’s executive producer. Gremlins fans can rest assured that at least Spielberg will be part of the new project.