Empire has wrangled our fair share of reunions, from Goonies to Hobbits via the Three Amigos. But celebrating 30 years of Gremlins — the monster-movie phenomenon that introduced the world to a chittering furball called Gizmo and his considerably less cute progeny — proved the biggest challenge yet. It took months to track down a batch of Gremlins, since the scaly green puppets created by Chris Walas and Rick Baker for the two films have been scattered to the winds. As for Gizmo? "Well, he drinks," deadpans director Joe Dante. "He got quite a swell head by the second movie. You'll notice he hasn't worked since."
Diva Mogwai aside, the reunion turned out to be a nostalgic blast. Dante, Walas and Baker caught up with stars Zach Galligan and Dick Miller (sadly Phoebe Cates turned out to be stuck up a chimney), reminiscing about the highs and lows involved in bringing mischievous reptilian beasties to life. Above is a sneak peek at our photoshoot, and here's an excerpt of the revealing group interview.
The Gremlins movies were famously hard to make. Has the pain faded?
Joe Dante: There was no pain making the second one. Warners wanted it, so they let us do whatever we wanted. But the first one... Let's just say the studio was unconvinced that this was a great idea for a movie. They did it mainly to make (executive producer) Steven Spielberg happy. So we were a little over-extended.
Chris Walas: I pulled out the first draft the other day and read it. And I have no idea how I could be so stupid as to commit to that project, I'd written one word on the front cover: "HA!" I didn't think it could be done. The technology didn't exist. I didn't have a shop or a crew. But I was desperate for money.
Dante: Chris and I had worked together since Piranha, and we were planning a 3D remake of Creature From The Black Lagoon. Then Gremlins came along. It was a good job, but there just wasn't a lot of budget. All these creatures had to be created and we had no idea how we were going to do it.
Walas: Weren't you thinking about monkeys?
Dante: First we talked about stop-motion. Then realised we'd still be shooting if we did that. And at one point someone — I hope it wasn't me — suggested we try monkeys in Gremlin suits.
Rick Baker: Hey, it worked in (Laurel and Hardy movie) Babes In Toyland.
Dante: But that one just had a Mickey Mouse head on. We actually did get a monkey and put a head on him and watched him careen around the editing room, pooping on everything in terror. We decided it wasn't really going to work out.
Baker: Sounds good to me!
For the full interview, including talk of Gizmo's origin, a run-in with the Ghostbusters and what exactly the Gremlins breakfast cereal tasted like, pick up the new issue of Empire, on sale Thursday. Gremlins Week, with all-exclusive content, starts Monday here on Empire Online.