It was an unlikely hit film; premiering the same weekend as Ghostbusters, the film Gremlins was overlooked by most industry types despite its pedigree. Produced by Steven Spielberg, directed by Spielberg favorite Joe Dante and written by Chris Columbus, the film didn’t quite fit into a neat and tidy box. Not quite a comedy and not quite a horror film, the movie seemed to be about a cute little creature named Gizmo.
The idea of gremlins came out of World War II. “Gremlins” were the personification of random malfunctions that took place in military equipment. These gremlins were the mythical creatures Roald Dahl and Walt Disney had considered making a film about them back then, but the idea was shelved with only a book getting released. By the late 1970’s, the stories about gremlins had been long forgotten. Chris Columbus, meanwhile, was trying to make his way in Hollywood. Inspired by the mice who infested his loft nightly, he wrote a screenplay about these imagined creatures beginning life as cute and cuddly animals who turned into horrific creatures. Columbus never intended for his script to become an actual film. He wrote it as a spec script meant to show Hollywood that he could write an entertaining screenplay. Little would he know that his script would become a huge franchise and one of the biggest films of the 1980’s.