We need to talk about Gremlins, and how it’s more holiday horror than it is family holiday fare. Even though there was a massive amount of kid-friendly merchandise created around the film and its adorable little mogwai named Gizmo, the onscreen violence actually helped to inspire the addition of PG-13 to the MPAA’s rating system.
For those who haven’t watched Gremlins, or haven’t watched it in quite some time, you probably mostly remember cute lil’ Gizmo, a snowy landscape and a bunch of mischievous “gremlins” that wreak havoc all over the town of Kingston Falls. But do you remember the violent attacks, and even deaths caused by the gremlins?
Even though Mrs. Deagle was akin to the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz, she was basically launched out of an upstairs window in her own home…there is no way she survived that. And then there was the science teacher Mr. Hanson, who was bitten and then given a lethal injection, not to mention several other townspeople who met their demises due to the gremlin invasion.
And while we are talking about the holiday horror elements present in Gremlins, we have to bring up Kate’s horrific story of her father’s death. When she was nine years old, Daddy went missing on Christmas Eve. Several days later, after they noticed the smell, his body was found wedged in the chimney of their house; he had fallen and broken his neck while trying to give his family a holiday surprise. They were surprised all right! Poor Kate was so traumatized by the experience that she has hated Christmas ever since that day.
There was even more holiday horror in the first draft.
As intense as those scenes are however, they pale in comparison to some things that happened in the first version of the script for Gremlins. For example, although Billy’s mom fights off the gremlins in entertaining ways (including pureeing one of them in a blender), in the first version, she was killed, and her head was flung down the stairs at her son.
And remember Billy’s cute dog Barney? In the first draft of the script, he is eaten by the gremlins. Thankfully, in the final draft, Barney makes it out safe and sound! But even with mom and Barney living to see another Christmas, Gremlins still has a solid place on our list of favorite holiday horror films.
Want to watch/re-watch Gremlins this holiday season? You can rent it on a variety of streaming platforms, or it’s also available to stream on HBO Max.
There are still a few more days in the holiday season, which holiday horror movies remain on your list of must-sees? Let us know in the comments section.