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Gremlins

Gremlins is a 1984 American comedy horror film directed by Joe Dante and released by Warner Bros. The film is about a young man who receives a strange creature called a mogwai as a pet, which then spawns other creatures who transform into small, destructive, evil monsters. This story was continued with a sequel, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, released in 1990. Unlike the lighter sequel, Gremlins opts for more black comedy, balanced against a Christmastime setting. Both films were the center of large merchandising campaigns. Steven Spielberg was the film’s executive producer, with the film being produced by Michael Finnell and written by Chris Columbus, drawing on legends of gremlins going back to World War II. The film stars Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates, with Howie Mandel providing the voice of Gizmo, the main mogwai character. Gremlins was a commercial success and received positive reviews from critics. However, the film was also 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.

Plot

Randall Peltzer, a struggling inventor, visits a Chinatown antique store in the hope of finding a Christmas present for his son Billy. In the store, Randall encounters a small, furry creature called a mogwai (Cantonese: 魔怪, "monster"). The owner, Mr. Wing, refuses to sell the creature to Randall. However, his grandson secretly sells the mogwai to Randall, warning him to remember three important rules that must never be broken – do not expose the mogwai to bright lights or sunlight which will kill it, do not let it get wet, and 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, where he fears his dog Barney will be captured and killed by the elderly Mrs. Deagle. Randall names the mogwai “Gizmo” and Billy makes sure to treat him well. When Billy’s friend Pete spills a glass of water over Gizmo, five more mogwai spawn from his back, a more troublemaking sort led by the aggressive Stripe. Billy shows one of the mogwai to his former science teacher Mr. Hanson, spawning another mogwai, on whom Hanson experiments. Back at home, Stripe’s gang tricks Billy into feeding them after midnight by chewing out the power cord to his bedside clock. They make cocoons, as does Hanson’s mogwai. Shortly after, the cocoons hatch and they emerge as mischievous, reptilian monsters that torture Gizmo and try to murder Billy’s mother, while Hanson is killed by his gremlin.

All of the Gremlins are killed except Stripe, who escapes to a local YMCA and jumps into a swimming pool, spawning an army of gremlins who wreak chaos around Kingston Falls. Billy tries to warn the police, but they don’t believe him. Many people are injured or outright killed by the gremlins' rampage, including Mrs. Deagle, who is launched out of her house on a stair lift that has been sabotaged by the creatures. At the local bar, the gremlins have fun until the barmaid Kate Beringer, Billy’s girlfriend, flashes them with a camera and escapes into the bank with Billy and Gizmo. While hiding, she reveals her father died in a chimney while dressed as Santa Claus. Billy and Kate discover 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 Stripe.

Billy chases Stripe into a Montgomery Ward store, where Stripe climbs into a water fountain and tries to spawn more gremlins. Gizmo arrives in a toy car and opens a skylight, exposing Stripe to sunlight and melting him. In the aftermath of the rampage, Mr. Wing arrives to collect Gizmo, scolding the Peltzers for their carelessness, thinking the Western world is not ready but comments that Billy might some day be ready to care for Gizmo properly. Gizmo likewise believes so, having become attached to Billy. Mr. Wing departs with Gizmo in tow.

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