The 1980s film Gremlins is notable in movie history not just for its great monsters, or novel blending of supernatural horror and comedy (it was released just a day after the similarly genius Ghostbusters), or the fact that it's the reason we have a PG-13 rating today. It was remarkably self-aware for a horror movie of its time, full of subtle references to other films and Hollywood culture in general. In fact, there are so many Hollywood homages in Gremlins that even the most eagle-eyed viewers will miss a few of them.
We've collected some of the most interesting easter eggs and fun facts from Gremlins and Gremlins 2, as well as clever references to these films in other works made by director Joe Dante and screenwriter Chris Columbus.
- 139 VOTES
Robby the Robot Has A Cameo
From Redditor u/MSDakaRocker:
I always recognised Robby the Robot in the scene where Randy calls home, but after 30-plus years I've only just realized that he's speaking actual lines from The Forbidden Planet.
The robot that stands behind Billy's father Randall in this scene is presented as if it's someone's novel invention, but in fact it was already 28 years old. Save for the nifty hat, this droid is an exact replica of Robby the Robot, and he's delivering the same lines he spoke in 1956's The Forbidden Planet.
- 223 VOTES
One Horror Reference Wasn't In The Script
From Redditor u/welmanshirezeo:
This scene wasn't scripted, but Joe Dante... added it as a[n] homage to [The] Texas Chainsaw Massacre."
Director Joe Dante cut his teeth as a B-movie director who specialized in making cheap rip-offs of popular films. That helps to explain his love of references to other movies, including this unscripted tribute to the classic horror movie The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
- Photo: Warner Bros340 VOTES
Time Travel Exists In The 'Gremlins' Universe
From Redditor u/JoshuaCalledMe:
[I]n the background [of the convention scene is] the original time machine from the 1960 movie The Time Machine. In the next scene, though, it's vanished, leaving people trying to work out where it went.
What could have been a simple reference to a classic sci-fi movie turns into a high-concept gag with potentially earth-shattering consequences.
- 450 VOTES
The First Car You See In The Movie Is A 'Gremlin'
From Redditor u/fcknfllr:
In the movie Gremlins (1984), the first car you see is an AMC Gremlin in the background.
Neither the American Motor Company, nor its subcompact model the Gremlin, are around today, but sharp viewers at the time might have recognized the appearance of the car early in the movie as a bit of foreshadowing by the filmmakers. If the model seems obscure, you might be surprised to learn that two former presidents are also former Gremlin owners: Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush.
- 531 VOTES
Executive Producer Steven Spielberg Pops Up In A Very Brief Cameo
From Redditor u/coreybb:
Steven Spielberg [makes a] cameo in Gremlins, which he produced, as the man in the electric wheelchair at the science convention when Randall is on the phone.
In a true "blink-and-you'll-miss-it" cameo, Steven Spielberg zooms in and out of viewers' field of vision during a science convention jampacked with movie references.
- 630 VOTES
The Film Contains A 'Flash'-y Reference
From Redditor u/PDXBishop:
One of the Gremlins during the party scene is dressed like Jennifer Beals from Flashdance. This was because Michael Sembello, who wrote and performed "Gremlins... Mega Madness" for the soundtrack, also wrote/performed the hit "Maniac" for Flashdance.
It's one of a billion film references in the movie, but this one has special resonance, given the talent shared between the two classic '80s movies.