Study Guide

Gremlins Setting

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Kingston Falls, Present Day

Kingston Falls is a snapshot of 1980s suburban USA. It's a quiet small town where everyone knows everyone. It has a huge department store, the perfect symbol of the American suburban economy. There's even a bumbling sheriff. It's like Mayberry, down to the one black guy who lives there.

Gremlins preys on the residents' fear of change. They like their little homogenous town and don't want anything to change. That attitude is expressed by Mr. Futterman and his wariness of foreign products. Billy doesn't have the same fear of change, so he welcomes Gizmo the mogwai into his home.

Big mistake.

Some films like this might have a message like, "Don't fear change. Change is okay! A little diversity never hurt anyone." But Gremlins tells us, "Change is bad. Change is deadly. Welcome something foreign into your home and it will kill everyone."

The million-dollar question here, though, is this: is Gremlins satirizing this fear, or is it endorsing it? You'll have to check out our section on genre for more on that brainteaser.

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