Study Guide

Gremlins Summary

Gremlins Summary

On a busy night in Chinatown, Rand Peltzer is looking for something. Let's hope it's not his sister who is also his daughter. Oh wait, that's a different Chinatown.

Rand is looking for a Christmas gift for his son. He finds the perfect present—an adorable fuzzy little creature called a mogwai—in a Chinese junk shop. You know what they say, one man's junk is another's biological weapon.

Rand is told to obey the three rules of mogwai care: 1. Keep it away from bright light. 2. Don't get it wet. 3. Don't ever, ever feed it after midnight. Don't even let it lick the Ben & Jerry's lid at 12:00:01.

We're getting a little ahead of ourselves, but if the old guy would tell Rand how dangerous Gizmo is, everything that's about to happen could be avoided.

He doesn't of course, so Rand brings the mogwai home to his son, Billy. Billy loves the cuddly furrball, who they name Gizmo. The next day Billy gets him wet. Way to go, Billy. You had one job. If there were a big red button that said "Don't Press or World Will End," Billy would hit it with his elbow.


To be fair, we can blame his friend Pete, played by Corey Feldman, who ruins everything. When Gizmo gets wet, his back bubbles up and little hairy eggs shoot out of it. They became more mogwai. These ones are cute but…different. One of them tries to bite Pete's finger. We doubt they're housebroken.

Billy takes a mogwai to his high school science teacher to figure out what it is. Public education must have been amazing in the 1980s if public school science teachers were counted on to research species completely foreign to America.

That night, Billy's tricked by Stripe, the mogwai with the mohawk, into feeding them after midnight. Billy wakes up in the morning and the mogwai are gone. They appear to be inside the icky alien eggs that have appeared in his bedroom.

At the school, Mr. Hanson leaves his sandwich near the cage, and the mogwai eats it after midnight. It metamorphoses into a gross cocoon, and then hatches. After being in a cocoon, everything looks like a sandwich, and the gremlin takes Mr. Hanson as his next snack. Maybe the high school science teacher wasn't the best choice to research this creature after all.

In Billy's house, the gremlin eggs hatch and gremlins go after Billy's mom. Big mistake. Going after Billy's mom is like trying commit a crime while RoboCop is on patrol. She knocks one gremlin into a blender, stabs another with a kitchen knife, and nukes a third in the microwave. In a duel to the death between Billy's mom and Rambo, we're betting on Billy's mom.

Stripe, the gremlin leader, jumps into a swimming pool and spawns dozens of gremlins to terrorize the town. Not everyone is a Billy's mom, and many people fall victim to the creatures. Gremlins attack someone dressed as Santa, run over Billy's neighbor with his own snowplow, and kill Mrs. Deagle, the town Grinch.

After all the murder, the gremlins need a break. They all gather in the town movie theater to watch Snow White. When you kill dozens of people, it gets you in the mood for Disney. Billy sneaks into the theater without even buying a ticket and blows the place up. The gremlins are dead. Movie theaters are safe once again.

Not so fast, Billy the kid. One gremlin escapes: Stripe. He scurries away into a nearby department store. Billy knows if Stripe reproduces, he'll have to go through this all over again. Then where will he watch his movies? Billy, adorable girl-next-door Kate, and the one remaining non-homicidal mogwai Gizmo, chase Stripe into the department store.

Stripe goes all lumberjack on Billy with a chainsaw, as if Billy were a maple tree filled with delicious syrup, but Billy fends him off. He pursues Stripe to a fountain. If Stripe gets wet, it's all over, but Gizmo zips to the rescue in a pink toy car he must have hijacked off a Barbie. Gizmo opens the blinds, directing bright sunlight onto Stripe, and frying him into goo.

Billy, Kate, and Gizmo recover at home with Mom and Dad. The Peltzers get a special visitor. He has a gray beard, but he's not Santa bearing prezzies. It's Grandfather from Chinatown coming to repo Gizmo.

He chastises the Peltzers for disobeying the rules and wreaking havoc and tells Billy that maybe, someday, he'll be ready to see Gizmo again. (Hint: he'll be ready in 1990, when the sequel comes out.)

  • Scene 1

    Scene 1

    • We begin, like so many movies from the '80s, with a white guy in China.
    • He looks like an overweight Indiana Jones, complete with a Short Round-lookalike in front of him.
    • In V.O. he introduces himself as Rand Peltzer, inventor.
    • He's got a story to tell, and he swears it's a story like no other.
    • Turns out he's not in China, he's merely in Chinatown.
    • The Short Round impersonator leads Peltzer to his grandfather's store.
    • It's an odd shop filled with cages, knick-knacks, and enough candles to be a serious fire hazard.
    • Speaking of fire hazard, grandpa's hair and beard is really long. Keep away from open flames, old man.
    • Peltzer tries to sell grandpa The Bathroom Buddy: a Swiss Army-esque traveling gadget. It's got a toothbrush, a nail file, everything a traveler needs. Does it have a built in Airbnb app?
    • But Peltzer's pitch is interrupted by the chittering of a strange animal.
    • Peltzer approaches it, and Short Round tells him it's a mogwai.
    • He offers $100 but grandpa won't sell.
    • How about $200?
    • "Mogwai not for sale. […] With mogwai comes much responsibility." Why, can he shoot webs from his hands?
    • The kid steals the mogwai and gives it to Peltzer in exchange for two Benjamins.
    • But before Peltzer leaves, the kid tells him the three rules of mogwai care. Keep him out of sunlight. Keep him away from water. And the most important rule: never, never feed him after midnight.
  • Scene 2

    Scene 2

    • As our credits roll, we find ourselves in a winter wonderland.
    • Kingston Falls is a small town covered in snow.
    • Also covered in snow is our main character Billy's Volkswagen Beetle.
    • It's not much snow, and wouldn't be a problem, except the car won't start at all.
    • Billy's neighbor, Mr. Futterman, blames it on foreign engineering.
    • He says an American car would never break down.
  • Scene 3

    Scene 3

    • It's a good thing Billy lives in a town the size of Hill Valley, so he can walk to the bank where he works in a few minutes.
    • Billy clips on his tie and gets ready to make it rain. That's what bank tellers do, right?
    • His pretty co-worker, Kate, asks him to sign a petition to have Dorry's Pub declared a landmark.
    • Mrs. Deagle, town crone, is trying to take his lease away.
    • Speaking of the wicked witch, here is she stomping down the sidewalk. Her broomstick must be in the repair shop.
    • One of her tenants asks for more time to pay the rent, and her request is denied by Deagle.
    • Deagle brings a giant plastic snowman into the bank and sets it on Billy's desk.
    • She claims his dog broke it. And she wants the dog, Barney, in exchange, to put him to sleep.
    • Barney, whom Billy keeps under the counter, leaps out and attacks Mrs. Deagle.
    • Once Barney the vicious mutt is pried from Mrs. Deagle, Deagle dramatically feigns a heart condition and slinks away from the bank. Can you have a heart condition if you're heartless?
  • Scene 4

    Scene 4

    • After work, Billy chills at Dorry's Pub.
    • His relaxing evening is ruined when Gerald, the junior VP of the bank, comes in and calls Billy Captain Clip-On.
    • We wish we'd thought of that.
    • Gerald tells Billy he almost got fired after the Barney vs. Deagle incident.
    • Kate, who works everywhere in this small town, takes Billy's order.
    • Gerald asks Kate out and she shoots him down as if he's a North Korean test missile.
  • Scene 5

    Scene 5

    • At home, Billy helps mom prepare dinner.
    • He attempts to use one of his dad's inventions to crack eggs, for when tapping them on the side of a bowl is too hard.
    • Mom's sad over something to do with Mrs. Deagle, the most miserable woman on the planet, but her story is interrupted when dad, Rand Peltzer, comes home.
    • He has a big gift for Billy, who hopes it's a puppy. What, is Barney not good enough anymore? He needs to trade the old mutt in for a new model?
    • Dad dims the lights for Billy to tear off the wrapping paper. We like to do it with the lights on. By do it, we mean open presents, of course.
    • The fuzzy little mogwai pokes his out of the box, and Billy is in awe of this unique little creature.
    • Mom, she hopes he's housebroken.
    • Dad has named him Gizmo.
    • Mom gets the camera to take a picture.
    • But the bright light scares Gizmo.
    • Dad takes this opportunity to relay the three rules to the family: no sunlight, no water, and don't ever feed him after midnight.
  • Scene 6

    Scene 6

    • Billy plays with Gizmo, dressing him up in a Santa hat for fun.
    • If mogwai were common, there would be so many ridiculous mogwai videos on Vine.
    • Gizmo gets scared from a bright light and falls into the trashcan. Ouchie.
    • Billy bandages his little fuzzy head. Concussions have never been cuter.
    • The next morning, Billy tries to make juice using his dad's juicer invention.
    • All those articles proclaiming juicing a "new" fad for the 21st Century? Guys, it's been around for decades.
    • Billy's young friend Pete comes over and has a radical idea: buy juice in cartons. Kid's a genius.
    • In Billy's bedroom, Gizmo is watching an old movie in bed.
    • Billy introduces Pete to Gizmo, who chirps and blinks like a Furby.
    • Pete accidentally knocks over a jar of liquid onto Gizmo, and Gizmo screeches in pain.
    • What was in that jar, acid?
    • No, it was water.
    • A Tribble-like furry egg shoots out of Gizmo's back.
    • It's soon joined by four more furballs, which quickly grow into brand-new mogwai.
    • Pete wants the one with a cute little stripe.
    • That one doesn't seem as cute when it almost bites Pete's finger off.
    • Gizmo sits in the corner and mopes. Isn't he happy to be a daddy?
  • Scene 7

    Scene 7

    • In his workshop, Dad shows Billy an update he made to the Bathroom Buddy: a razor.
    • The shaving cream button still needs a little work.
    • Billy brings dad to his room to show him the new mogwai.
    • The new ones are partying on the floor, playing a mini Donkey Kong machine.
    • But they also taunt poor Gizmo. The striped one is the gang leader of this group of bullies.
    • In the middle of the night, Billy's woken up by Barney's whining.
    • He finds the dog outside, strung up in Christmas lights.
    • Barney isn't known for late-night Christmas decorating, so they have no idea how he got up there. That striped mogwai has a mischievous look on his little face, though…
  • Scene 8

    Scene 8

    • Billy brings a box of mogwai to school to show his science teacher, Mr. Hanson.
    • It's like Forrest Gump always says: Life is like a box of mogwai; you never know what you're going to get.
    • Billy thinks it's a good idea to moisten one and show how they reproduce. Now there are even more of them.
    • Mr. Hanson asks to run some tests. What kind of tests is he going to do in a public school science lab?
    • On his way home, Billy passes Dorry's Pub.
    • Kate's ushering a drunk Mr. Futterman out the door so she can close.
    • He rambles about gremlins being planted in machinery.
    • According to him, that's how the Germans brought down planes in WWII. Gremlins.
    • Shatner would agree.
    • Billy walks Kate home, and she talks about how depressing Christmas can be for some people.
    • "The suicide rate's always the highest around the holidays," she says.
    • She doesn't celebrate Christmas, but she won't tell Billy why. Is she Ebenezer Scrooge in disguise?
    • Billy asks the hottest Scrooge ever (no offense, Mr. McDuck) out for a date and she says yes. God bless us, everyone.
  • Scene 9

    Scene 9

    • Back at the public school science lab, Mr. Hanson is injecting his mogwai with a scary needle and drawing blood for a blood test.
    • At home, Billy watches Invasion of the Body Snatchers with Gizmo, eats a sandwich, and does homework.
    • The other mogwai are freaking out because they want food.
    • It's not midnight, so Billy goes to the kitchen to get them a snack.
    • They devour the leftover chicken. It's super messy. Somebody give 'em wet naps. Oh no wait, don't, we can't get them wet. How do you keep a mogwai clean?
    • At the school, the mogwai in Mr. Hanson's cage eats his leftover sandwich…after midnight.
    • In the morning, Billy finds huge gross pulsating eggs where the cute fuzzy mogwai used to be.
    • Billy realizes about eight hours too late that the mogwais broke Billy's clock, tricking him into feeding them after midnight.
    • Mr. Hanson has a sticky cocoon too, and he has to cut it out of its cage.
    • He explains to the kids that the mogwai is going through a metamorphosis.
    • Are they going to be beautiful butterflies?
  • Scene 10

    Scene 10

    • It's Christmas Eve.
    • Dad's at a convention and Mom is home alone.
    • At the bank, Mrs. Deagle is in the holiday spirit, evicting tenants and looking for Barney the mutt, presumably to eat for Christmas dinner.
    • In Billy's bedroom, the gooey mogwai cocoons are hatching.
    • They're not butterflies. They're gremlins.
    • Back at school, kids are dismissed for the holidays.
    • Alone in the lab, Mr. Hanson checks on the gremlins egg, which has hatched.
    • But where's the gremlin?
    • Mr. Hanson hunts for the gremlin, using a Snickers as bait.
    • He finds it under his desk and sticks the candy bar underneath to lure him out.
    • "You're not still mad about that blood test?" he asks.
    • Hungry? Why wait? The gremlin eats the Snickers and Mr. Hanson's hand.
    • Billy goes into the classroom and finds Mr. Hanson dead on the floor.
    • Adding insult to injury, the gremlin stuck a needle in his butt. He's still mad about that blood test.
  • Scene 11

    Scene 11

    • The evil gremlin escapes through a ventilation duct after scratching Billy's hand.
    • Billy goes to the nurse's office to bandage his cut, where the crazy gremlin jumps out of a cabinet, frightening him.
    • At his house, the quintet of gremlin bullies have pinned Gizmo to a dartboard and are using him as target practice.
    • Mom isn't happy about the commotion. She grabs a kitchen knife and goes upstairs to check it out.
    • One mom vs. five gremlins. This doesn't seem like a fair fight.
    • She's horrified by the sight of the hatched cocoons, but can't find any gremlins.
    • Billy calls and tells Mom to get out of the house. Too late, Billy.
    • The gremlins do the scariest thing possible: they play Christmas music at loud volume.
    • Do you see what we see? A gremlin, waiting in the dark, to tear you limb from limb.
    • Mom finds one gremlin eating right out of the food processor.
    • Never put your face near a sharp blade, especially when Mom is around.
    • She hits the on button and blends the gremlin to a pulp.
    • Another gremlin isn't happy with this, and it throws plates at Mom.
    • She defends herself with a TV tray and gets close enough to stab the gremlin dead.
    • Who dares face off against Mom next?
    • A gremlin throws a tray of cookies at her, and she shoves it into the microwave and turns it on until it pops. Ding ding: dinner's ready.
    • Three down, two to go.
    • Mom finds her next green victim in a stocking hung by the chimney with care.
    • Mom beats it with a fire poker, but it turns out to be a wind-up toy decoy.
    • A gremlin knocks the Christmas tree onto Mom and attacks her.
    • It attempts to choke her with tinsel. War on Christmas? This is a war with Christmas.
    • Billy arrives in time to knock the gremlin into the fireplace, burning it to goop.
    • The final gremlin, Stripe, escapes through the window to terrorize another day.
  • Scene 12

    Scene 12

    • After storing Mom at the neighbor's house, Billy looks for Gizmo.
    • He finds the cute cuddly mogwai in the laundry chute.
    • If the Snuggle bear retires, Gizmo should be his replacement.
    • Billy tracks Stripe's footprints—pawprints? clawprints?—through the snow to the YMCA.
    • Stripe jumps out of a closet, claws Billy's chest, and then dives into the pool.
    • The Tom Daly of Gremlins gets the water boiling. How many are going to come out of this? Enough to start their own water polo team?
  • Scene 13

    Scene 13

    • Billy tries to warn the sheriff about the impending gremlin invasion, but they don't take him seriously.
    • While the cops aren't doing their job, Stripe leads his army of gremlins to wreak havoc on the town.
    • Mr. Futterman's TV goes out. He blames it on the fact that it's foreign, but it's really gremlins on the roof.
    • He goes outside to check the antenna.
    • The Gremlins theme playing tells us this is a bad idea.
    • The evil gremlins hijack Mr. Futterman's snow plow and chases him with it right through the walls of the house.
    • Mr. and Mrs. Futterman get plowed.
    • Get your mind out of the gutter.
  • Scene 14

    Scene 14

    • Across town, a priest mails a letter and is surprised to hear a weird noise inside the mailbox.
    • The worst priest ever tells the next man at the mailbox "be my guest" and watches as he sticks his arm in the mailbox and gets eaten.
    • At the sheriff's office, they're playing with adorable Gizmo, not understanding how something like him could turn violent and dangerous.
    • Here's how: the sheriff gets a call that there was a freak accident at the Futtermans involving a snowplow.
    • At Mrs. Deagle's house, she is annoyed to be visited by Christmas carolers.
    • Like the Strand bookstore spraying homeless people with water in winter, Mrs. Deagle opens the door to throw a pitcher of water on the innocent carolers.
    • But, like Britney Spears, they're not that innocent. They're evil gremlins, of course.
    • Good thing she didn't throw that pitcher, or things might get worse.
    • Mrs. Deagle retreats into her house and locks the door.
    • She's too weak to climb the stairs on her own, so she uses her chair lift.
    • Spike's short-circuited it, and it spirals up the stairs so fast, it flings her out the window and into the snow to her death.
    • Mrs. Deagle crashes face first into the snow right in front of the sheriff. He's in shock.
    • A Santa staggers out of a house. He's covered in gremlins chewing on him.
    • The sheriff flees like a coward, soon crashing because Stripe cut the brake lines.
  • Scene 15

    Scene 15

    • With Gizmo in tow, Billy gets into his VW Beetle, which starts. It's a Christmas miracle.
    • At Dorry's, Kate's forced to be a bartender for all the gremlins.
    • She's the only one there, which makes us wonder where Dorry is. Do we need to go on a mission? Finding Dorry?
    • The gremlins are totally trashing the place, and they're bad tippers.
    • Kate uses a camera's flash to blind the gremlins and escape.
    • One of the gremlins has a gun. Is this movie is set in Texas? There it's legal for gremlins to open-carry firearms.
    • Kate runs. Billy arrives to give her a ride.
    • Kate and Billy flee to the bank, which has already been trashed.
    • In the safety of the bank, Kate says she now has another reason to hate Christmas.
    • What's the first reason? She finally shares.
    • When she was nine, her dad never came home.
    • Yeah, that's a downer.
    • After a week, they still hadn't heard from him.
    • One night, Kate lit a fire and noticed a weird smell from the chimney.
    • She called someone to inspect, expecting them to find a bird or squirrel.
    • "Instead, they pulled out my father."
    • Sorry, Kate, there's no Santa Claus.
  • Scene 16

    Scene 16

    • After Kate's tragic tale of Christmas past, gremlins don't seem so bad.
    • Billy decides to hunt them down, assuming they're somewhere dark.
    • He finds them in the movie theater, where one gremlin has eaten all the concessions. All those M&Ms and popcorn: gone. That's like $2 million worth of food.
    • The gremlins are having a private viewing party in one of the theaters. What movie are they going to watch? Sixteen Candles? Purple Rain?
    • No, they're watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
    • And they're singing along.
    • The only thing scarier than a Disney sing-along is gremlins who know the words but can't carry a tune.
    • They love the movie. Are dwarves and gremlins related?
    • Billy and Kate sneak into the theater and break a gas pipe.
    • Billy uses a strip of old fabric as a fuse and lights it.
    • The gremlins spot Billy and Kate, and chase them to the exit.
    • The humans escape into an alley, where Billy barricades the door.
    • Couldn't he have used a shorter fuse? It takes forever for the movie theater to finally blow up with all the gremlins inside.
    • Mmm, can we get deep fried gremlin to snack on during the next showing?
  • Scene 17

    Scene 17

    • All the gremlins die in the movie theater explosion.
    • Well, except Stripe, who'd left to find Milk Duds. Wasn't he worried about missing a critical part of the movie?
    • Billy follows him to a candy counter in a department store across the street.
    • He knows they have to stop Stripe before he dunks himself in water again.
    • Stripe escapes deeper into the large department store. It's a Sears on steroids.
    • Good thing he's carelessly left a trail of candy.
    • Billy Hansels and Gretels his way to Stripe, but not before getting a romantic smooch from Kate for luck.
    • In the hardware department, Stripe throws saw blades at Billy, giving a new meaning to tool and die.
    • Billy dodges the blades and pursues Stripe to the sporting goods department.
    • Stripe hits Billy in the kidney with a couple tennis balls from a pneumatic launcher. Talk about a double fault.
    • With Billy on the ground, Stripe takes aim with a crossbow and shoots Billy in the shoulder. Yeowch.
    • Feeling Billy's sufficiently weakened, Stripe gets a chainsaw and rushes in for the kill.
    • Billy defends himself with a baseball bat, which the chainsaw makes short work of. If Billy were playing rock-paper-chainsaw, he would totally lose.
  • Scene 18

    Scene 18

    • In the department store control room, Kate turns on all the lights, shocking Stripe into dropping the chainsaw.
    • Billy is saved.
    • Outside, dad is driving with Barney in the car.
    • Barney leaps out and into the department store where Billy entered to find Stripe. Dad follows.
    • Meanwhile, Gizmo is driving a tiny little pink car that he must have GTA'd from a Barbie doll.
    • Billy finally finds Stripe in a lawn and garden shop.
    • Stripe is about to climb into a fountain, starting this whole process again.
    • He sticks his finger in, and his back bubbles up with new gremlin eggs. Someone get Stripe some Clearasil.
    • Gizmo zips in and opens the blinds and hit Stripe square in the face with bright sunlight.
    • Stripe's face melts into a gross (and smelly looking) green goo.
    • His body, mostly liquefied, falls into the fountain.
    • Billy stoops to pick up Gizmo and cradle him in dad's scarf. And because he's the hero, the pretty girl holds him.
    • Billy approaches the fountain, and Spike's skeleton leaps out.
    • But it doesn't go far before the bones dissolve into mush on the floor. Stripe must have had a calcium deficiency.
  • Scene 19

    Scene 19

    • At home, Billy rests on the couch with his arm in a sling.
    • A TV news reporter covers the gremlin crime wave.
    • Kate's caring for Gizmo, and Mom thinks he might like some chicken soup.
    • But they have an unexpected visitor.
    • It's the Chinese man who originally owned Gizmo.
    • He chastises Rand for not obeying the rules and he repossesses his Mogwai.
    • But Gizmo wants to say goodbye.
    • He actually speaks, trilling, "Bye, Billy."
    • The Chinese man says perhaps someday Billy will be ready…ready to not screw up so badly and almost kill the entire town.
    • In voice over, Rand warns us that the next time our TV goes on the fritz, to be careful: there might be a gremlin in the house.
    • Are they the ones setting our iPhone to 1/1/1970? Do Gremlins void our warranty?
    • The end.