Flashback Friday: “Gremlins” First Hit Theaters On This Day in 1984

On this weekend in 1984, Joe Dante‘s Gremlins first hit theaters. A fantastic mix of horror, fantasy and dark comedy, the film’s at-times intense violence helped spur the MPAA to create the PG-13 rating (along with another Steven Spielberg production from the summer of ’84, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom). Despite the on-screen carnage the film celebrates at times, it has become a family favorite over the years thanks primarily to Gizmo, the lovable Mogwai who is inadvertently responsible for Gremlins running amuck in the quiet town of Kingston Falls. With the movie turning 33 today, we wanted to celebrate with a variety of fun Gremlins-related clips.

The original trailer for the film takes a less-is-more approach to showing off the film’s inspired creature design. This is movie marketing at its best.

Gremlins was an instant blockbuster, and the movie’s inherent appeal to young people was utilized to create this public service announcement against drunk driving in which the late, great Keye Luke reprises his role from the film.

With Gizmo being as adorable — and marketable — as he was, potential licensees took note, resulting in a flood of merchandise featuring characters from the film. One of the most memorable products was this stuffed version of everyone’s favorite Mogwai — one which topped the wishlist of Gremlins-loving boys and girls everywhere in 1984.

We’ve written about this ad for Gremlins cereal on MovieFanFare before, but we feature it again here because it’s jingle (“Gremlins! Gremlins! Bite after bite! What a tasty way to satisfy your Gremlin appetite!) is so unbelievably catchy.

Our journey back to the ’80s concludes with the above ad for a Hardees restaurant Gremlins tie-in. Man, I’d love to have some of these records.

Of course, these are just the Gremlins ads from 1984. With the release of Gremlims 2: The New Batch in 1990 came another wave of Mogwai mania…one which we will tell you all about in next week’s Flashback Friday post.