Written by folks who often have only a rough draft of the script to consult, and their imaginations to fill in the gaps, it should be no surprise that movie novelisations can get pretty screwy. The book version of Lethal Weapon informs readers that thinking about ammo gives Riggs an erection. The E.T. paperback reveals that the alien hero is in love with Elliott's mum. And George Gipe's Back To The Future tome dedicates a frankly bizarre number of pages to the origins of the Libyan terrorists.
But when it comes to dotty novelisations, the title might be claimed by Gremlins, another Gipe joint. Where Joe Dante's film shrouds its tale in mystery, the book delves deep into the backstory of Gizmo, turning up some surprising answers. If you thought the movie was too light on armoured space-worms, get ready to get happy.
It's not canon: at Empire's reunion photoshoot, Dante said of the novelisation, "George Gipe never got to see the movie. He made up a whole background — a complicated one — for the creatures. In my mind, they came from China, and were the results of the mating of a dragon and a panda." But it does make fascinating reading for Gremlins fans. So without further ado, here are the ten most astonishing 'revelations' in the book...
1 Gizmo is from space.
"The galactic powers ordered the Mogwai sent to every inhabitable planet in the universe, their purpose being to inspire alien beings with their peaceful spirit and intelligence and to instruct them in the ways of living without violence and possible extinction. Among the planets selected for early Mogwai population were Kelm-6 in the Poraisti Range, Clinpf-A of the Beehive Pollux, and the third satellite of MinorSun#67672, a small but fertile body called Earth by its inhabitants." - - - - - -
2 He practices advanced meditation.
"He closed his eyes, and his Mogwai mind, ever obedient, began to show him the vivid colors generated by the boiling rivers of the subplanet Catelesia. It was one of the Mogwai's favorite mental images, although when he felt a minor surge of aggression, he enjoyed watching mind-battles between the armored worms of Ucursian. His favorite Earthly visions included the sun-darkening flights of the passenger pigeon (which he understood had ended a century before) and scenes from the San Francisco earthquake." - - - - - -
3 The last Gremlins outbreak was in 1945.
"He remembered the China Sea crossing just before he had encountered his owner-friend of nearly forty years. They had gotten loose then — there had been no way to prevent it. He shuddered. What would have happened had he not been rescued by the Chinese man just a few minutes before the ship was torpedoed?" - - - - - -
4 ***Mr. Futterman has a kick-ass song.
****"When you're a thousand miles from nowhere
And there's nothing below but the drink,
It's then you'll see the gremlins,
Green and gamboge and gold,
Male and female and neuter,
Gremlins both young and old.
White ones will wiggle your wingtips,
Male ones will muddle your maps,
Green ones will guzzle your glycol,
Females will flutter your flaps,
They'll freeze up your camera shutters,
They'll bite through your aileron wires,
They'll bend and they'll break and they'll batter,
They'll jab toasting forks in your eyes..."*
5 Billy's mum fantasises about joining the army
"Sometimes Lynn wondered how she would have handled herself if, not having been born several decades too soon, she had been drafted into the army and asked to fight for her country, Surprisingly, the idea intrigued rather than repelled or frightened her." - - - - - -
6 Barney the dog hates squirrels.
"Barney looked sideways at his new companion, backed away a few steps. It looked so soft and gentle, but from dealing with squirrels, he knew that the cute ones had the most devilish tricks." - - - - - -
7 Mogwai can talk. But can't kill each other.
"Stripe balled his short pointed fingers into something resembling fists. 'I want to kill you,' he said coldly. 'But I can't. Something is holding me back.'
'It's the one responsible emotion Mogturmen was able to keep in us,' Gizmo explained. 'We're incapable of killing each other.'
'You have other information we need,' Stripe continued. 'There's something that can kill us in large doses, cause us pain in smaller doses. What is it?'
'You will find out soon enough.'
'Chetz-wubba!' Stripe rasped, swearing in Mogwai. 'Why must you be so secretive?' - - - - - -
8 The 1983 Columbia space shuttle had a Gremlin onboard.
"The Gremlin eluded capture by the six-man crew long enough to shut down the computer handling the craft's guidance and navigation systems... Returning to Earth eight hours late as a result of the Gremlin's meddling, the crewmen were debriefed by government officials, who warned them not to describe what had actually happened on the mission." - - - - - -
9 The Bathroom Buddy saves the day.
"Rand Peltzer, closing to within a few inches of the Gremlin, unleashed a flume of shaving cream from the Bathroom Buddy. It shot like a white tornado directly into Stripe's eyes, causing him to shriek in pain. At the same time Barney hurled himself at the creature's leg, snapping and growling." - - - - - -
10 Corey Feldman's character flees town.
"The person who knew most about Billy's involvement, Pete Fountaine, was so terrified when he heard that Roy Hanson had been killed by an unknown creature in his lab that he ran away from home, thinking the police would connect him with the murder."- - - - - -
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*Keep 'em peeled during Joe Dante