How 'Gremlins' Spawned a Mini-Monster Trend 30 Years Ago
There’s no better sign of success for a horror movie than it inspiring multiple shameless rip-offs. By that measure, the creature feature Gremlins, which came out 30 years ago next month, ranks among the greatest scary movies of all time.
The Steven Spielberg-produced horror story follows a small-town teenager who lands a cute, furry critter named Gizmo as a pet, only to discover that his sweet new pal hatches evil green monsters when three key rules are broken. (As, of course, they are. Early and often.) Gremlins made almost $150 million at the box office and studios immediately saw a blueprint for box-office gold, rushing out their own tiny-monster movies. “It’s a grand cinematic tradition,” Gremlins director Joe Dante tells Yahoo Movies. “I started my career with a rip-off — Piranha, which was a rip-off of Jaws. So I don’t have much street cred to complain about people ripping me off.” While the Gremlins' thirtieth birthday is grounds for celebration, it's also a good opportunity to pay homage to every Ghoulie, Troll, and Hobgoblin that followed in its wake. Here's our roundup of the imitators, with commentary from Dante and a special Gizmo rating of how well they transcended the charade.
The Creature: Ancient demons — some bald, some hairy, all gross.
The Story: After performing a ritual in his creepy basement, a man becomes possessed by a powerful force that gives him control over a handful of hideous monsters.
Rip-off Rating: 2 out of 5 Gizmos. Empire Pictures couldn’t even wait a full year to offer up the first in a long line of Gremlins Xeroxes. Though producer Charles Band began developing his pint-sized demon flick before Gremlins hit theaters, Ghoulies’ quick arrival and low production values made it look every part the knock-off. And it certainly has some leftover Gremlins glow to thank for its $35 million box office gross.
Dante says: “Pretty low budget and low rent in a lot of ways.”