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Headscratchers: Gremlins
  • Alright, here's a doozy for you. the rule that bothers me the most is the first one: Don't expose a mogwai or gremlin to bright light. Why is it that Stripe is killed by the sun, but not the lights in the Peltzer house, the lights at Dorry's Tavern, the lights at the movie theater, or the lights in the convenience store? Those lights are obciously bright enough to light up those buildings, so why aren't the gremlins killed by those lights?
    • Because 1) artificial light is never shown as being able to kill Gremlins or Mogwai, it just hurts/scares them, most likely specifically because it makes them think of sunlight, and 2) all of the places you list had fairly dim lights, either by default or, in the case of the Peltzer house, because they'd deliberately lowered the lights in most of the rooms to make Gizmo comfortable.
  • Why, in the second movie, did the gremlin in the cookpot not give birth? There was water, or at least clear, water-based liquid. You can see it dripping from the vegetables or pasta on the sides of the vat.
    • He did. You are mentioning the scene when the original, Gizmo-spawned Gremlins give birth to more Gremlins so they can occupy the whole building. The thing is, nobody noticed since the other Gremlins started reproducing as well (due to the sprinkler system).
      • Doesn't count. He was in the pot well before the sprinklers came on. He should have been giving birth the moment he got in that pot.
      • Well, since he was covered in food when he came out, it's probably the case that the water in the pot had been mixed with oils, spices and other foodstuffs to the point where it was no longer 'water' enough for the rule to apply. You have to remember that snow isn't 'water' enough to trigger reproduction for these's apparently a really strict rule.
  • Something always bugged me about this movie, and thus far any attempt by others to clear it up has failed. It's about the third rule. "Never feed him after midnight". But when, exactly, is "after midnight"? Every single day of the year is preceded by the midnight of the previous day, making every single time of the day "after midnight". So, when does a mogwai become feedable?
    • Maybe it's the 12-6AM period.
    • This bothered me too, I came up with two possible explanations. Either it's the "witching hour", midnight until one, once it becomes 1:00 AM you can feed it again. Or it could also mean just any of the predawn hours.
    • And when is it midnight? the world is split into time zones so while its evening in America (or the East coast of) its gone midnight in Britain. Also what about summer and winter clock settings?
    • Here's a thought: After midnight means "after midnight". You know, after twelve am? Seriously, when somebody tells you "We'll meet at five pm", do you fret about which time zone they're talking about? No, of course not, because it's obviously the one you're currently in! Why start wondering about that here? Unless the movie takes place right on the border between two time zones, there's not much to ask about. Of course, you have to wonder if this is adjusted to fit daylight savings whatsits, but apart from that it seems pretty clear.
      • I'd guess that it's anytime between when the moon is highest in the sky and dawn, so it'd still be midnight in whatever time zone the Mogwai happened to be in.
      • You're not the only person to be bothered by this one
      • Might I add that this whole discussion is hilariously lampshaded in the second film?
      • I don't care about the whole "midnight changes around the world" thing, I'm bothered by the fact that "after midnight" is too vague for me. That point is never adressed in the movies.
      • They are basically little magic creatures. Magic knows when midnight is. A Wizard Did It. (Or if you follow the novelization or whatever, aliens, but same difference in practice.)
    • And that bugs me, a lot. Everyone is willing to discuss how international timelines affects mogway, NOBODY is willing to define "after midnight" to me.
      • It means "after midnight".
    • Oddly enough, I have never been annoyed by this at all. I have always assumed it meant "don't feed him in the hours after midnight and before dawn ", according of course to the local hour and not to what time is it in another hemisphere or somewhere else (?). It was never literally explained, true, but considering the fact that the movie is basically a (dark) fairy tale, these weird and vague rules were kind of appropriate, I felt. I guess "Never feed him after midnight!" just sounded cooler than "No late night snacks after dinner and before breakfast!".
      • I would assume the rule refers to the astronomical midninght (halfway between sunset and sunrise), regardless of time zones and DST. This doesn't normally coincide with 24:00 on the clock ...
    • I'd have no problem with it if it was magic, but all the novelizations mention that the Mogway were genetically engineered...
      • Which is why those novelizations have always been incredibly stupid to me. Everything makes so much more sense if the mogwai are magic; the rules punish you for being irresponsible with them. The sheer amount of convoluted logic you have to invoke to explain them by any means other than magic is just mind-boggling.
    • This bothered me too until I realized that were someone to say this to us in real life instead of on a movie screen in a film we can gleefully ponder the (il?)logical intricacies of, we wouldn't be nearly so anal about the wording. Most people would immediately take it to mean, "Don't feed them at any time during the night after midnight," and time zones would be the last consideration on their minds because they would take it for granted that of course it refers to whatever time zone they're in. Still night hours? No daylight yet? Check. 12:00 A.M. has arrived (unless you have a really good clock always kept in sync by the U.S. naval observatory site, it's best to play it safe with the exact minute) in your own time zone? Check. Then don't feed them. Simple as that. Daylight savings time is an artificial convention recently imposed in the past couple of centuries, and nothing more than semantics, so it obviously wouldn't count any more than it would if everyone in the country universally started agreeing to call midnight twenty-nine-o'clock for no reason. It's still midnight. And unless you happen to be in one of those weird polar regions where it's always daylight, I don't see how any further conundrums should occur. And even if they did, they don't occur in the film. We really need to get a life.
      • Wait, you're saying a biological function can factor in time zone considerations? I call foul.
      • Biological sensitivity to tidal forces. Don't ask why it's attuned to the solar tidal force instead of the stronger but less circadianly constant lunar tidal force.
      • 12:00 AM? Fuhgeddaboudit! I'm not feeding them after 10:50 at night if I know the risk!
      • You're calling foul on biology not taking into effect time zone considerations in this movie? Seriously, that's where you're drawing the line of ridiculousness?
    • I too always figured that the time when you can't feed them starts at 12:00 AM, determined by whatever time zone you are in, and dawn, which will be specific to your particular area. After sunrise, you are free to feed them...until it's 12 AM again.
  • Here's an interesting question: What would happen if you were to bring a mogwai beyond the polar circle?note  On the second thought, just don't.

  • I think the law that bugs me the most is the rule of water. In other words, do not let them be touched by water. First of all, how much water will affect them? If it's any amount, that means the mogwai is going to be affected as soon as it's exposed to air (remember, there are water vapors in the air). Second, most of the food you eat needed water to be cooked, right? So why isn't that affecting the mogwai?
    • This was actually adressed in the novels and comic books: it has to be clear, liquid water. Non-liquid water (such as steam or snow) or water mixed with something else (such as orange juice or vodka) won't work.
      • As all the drunk gremlins happily demonstrated.
      • Really? Well, then, why did they not include that rule? Sure, it has no place in the movie because it cannot be used dramatically. However, if they said this, it would have at least shut up the doubters like me.
      • And why did the chlorinated water in the pool work?
      • Completely pure water is never encountered in normal life, anyways, so there must be a limit when the concentration is so much the "water" is no longer considered water, but something else. One could probably make a nice science project out of this; dilute orange juice or something in ever increasing amounts of water until you can determine the maximum concentration that will cause reproduction, to three significant figures!
      • Sure, find me a Gremlin and I'll get right on it!
      • I smell a Gremlins 3 movie ...
      • Maybe as a precaution we should use sports drinks for all our water, like in Idiocracy.
    • Maybe it has to do with the temperature of the water as well.
    • Let's discard the whole "engineered by aliens" thing from the novel for a moment and assume that Mogwai and Gremlins are some manner of magical creature like a faerie or oni or whatever. If the rule about feeding is governed by our perception of midnight (meaning that what we consider midnight counts as midnight for the purposes of feeding them, whether it's strict astrological midnight or not), then the rule about getting them wet is probably governed by our perception of water. Do we consider snow to be water? "Frozen water!" But do we consider it to be water? No, we consider it to be snow. Alcohol is mostly water, but do we think of it as water because of this? No. But we do consider the water in a pool to be water, no matter how much chlorine you add.
  • At the end of the film, when Gizmo's elderly keeper Mr. Wing reclaims him, the old guy's remarks about Western attitudes to nature Bug Me. Yes, he did have grounds to be annoyed with Randall for buying the mogwai under-the-table, and yes, the Peltzers did act like jerks who need a lecture on pet care from Victoria Stilwell. But going beyond accusations of personal carelessness, and claiming that "your society" doesn't understand Nature's creatures? Er, hello? You're traditional Chinese, buddy! Doesn't your own society's "understanding" of Nature's creatures consist of A) how to cook them, and B) what parts of them to grind up for quack medicines and aphrodisiacs? There's a ton of real-world endangered species that'd be thriving today, without your culture's concept of "understanding", so get off your high horse about Gizmo watching television.
    • Show a little more respect for Charlie Chan, will you?
    • No, the problem with Mr. Wing's speech is that none of it applies to Billy. Billy proved he was pretty damn ready to raise a mogwai; it was his obnoxious neighbor kid that got Gizmo wet, and it was his obnoxious dad who wanted to market Gizmo & Co. as pets. Billy did the responsible thing by bringing a mogwai to the science teacher for analysis, going after Stripe, and then going to the police when the situation got out of hand. And after the police proved useless, Billy saved the entire town, at great risk to his life and limb. Sorry, Mr. Wing, but Billy Peltzer earned that little muppet.
    • It was still Billy who fell for the "stopped clock" trick pulled by the other mogwai, and unwittingly fed them after midnight. He clearly underestimated that most mogwai actually want the rules to be broken, so they can be transformed into their more powerful forms. He also underestimated how dangerous they can be even in mogwai form, since he never suspected that they might be responsible for the attempted murder of his dog (though to be fair, at least one other character in the film had explicitly sworn a death wish on him). Mr. Wing did at least acknowledge the bond that Billy had formed with Gizmo, and that he might be ready "one day". What always bugged me regarding Wing's speech was his attitude toward television...given that it was inspiration from characters he'd seen on TV which enabled Gizmo to save the day in both movies. Wing doesn't know that, I suppose, but I'm not sure what point the movie's making.
      • Why would Billy have any reason to think the Mogwai would actually want to break the rules? Since the rules themselves are rather vague about the consequences of breaking them, (Sure, tell us that exposing it to light may kill it, but don't tell us feeding it after midnight may kill us), you couldn't really expect Billy to be on guard for that. Yes, Billy was essentially raising an animal he had no way to understand, but that was his dad's fault, not his. If Mr. Wing had shown up a few hours earlier, I don't think we'd have seen him driving a VW into a bar, blowing up a movie theater, or tracking a homicidal gremlin through a department store. And, while we're on the subject, Gizmo's kind of a slacker in this regard, too. He knew what Stripe and the other Mogwai were up to, and didn't try to warn Billy at all. And in Gremlins 2, if Gizmo had just stayed put like he was told, none of the events of the movie would have happened. Every character in the film is just asking for gremlin anarchy *except* for Billy.
      • I suppose it's just a matter of Billy getting involved in something that he doesn't understand, no matter how level his head and how good his intentions. True, it was his father who brought the Mogwai home in the first place, against Wing's wishes, but he gave it to Billy (and was absent for most of the movie anyway), so responsibilty for ensuring that the rules weren't broken ultimately rested upon his son. It's never stated what breaking rules two and three will actually do, but it's still made clear that they're to be avoided at all costs. As for Gizmo, he seemed genuinely unaware that the other Mogwai had just tricked Billy into breaking the third rule - at the time, he was merely repulsed by their lack of table manners, and didn't eat the chicken himself because he presumably wasn't hungry. You could argue that he too let his guard down (since he knows, either by instinct or past experience, that the other mogwai are no good, and becomes terribly depressed the moment they're spawned) or maybe he just felt powerless to stop them at this stage (although Billy is able to fight the gremlins from the beginning, Gizmo doesn't learn to do so until the climax, when he kills Stripe). When the mogwai go into their cocoon stage, he suddenly become very agitated - I got the impression that those little cries of his were intended as warnings, but neither Billy nor his mother could understand him. Despite their bond, Gizmo is, for the most part, unintelligible to Billy (he was surprised that Mr. Wing could understand him at the end). I agree that most of the other characters in both movies were just asking for it, though, and that Billy is presented in a much more favourable light by comparison. I suppose that's why his rewards are a) being promised that he and Gizmo will be reunited one day at the end of the first movie and b) being reunited with Gizmo and actually getting to keep him in the second.
    • Silly Rabbit, lectures about nature are from Asians, elves, aliens and Indians only!
  • If Gizmo ate after midnight and morphed into a gremlin, would he become evil? His "children" were mean from the very birth but what about him? Frankly, it'd be pretty cool to have a "nice" gremlin fighting the others.
    • I always got the impression that Gizmo is the only good Mogwai; and that's the reason the other guys hate him; he's a goodie two shoes among a crew of sychopats. I've always infered from the fact that he enjoys music, and watching TV and likes to sing for Mr Wing; he's visible bothered by getting wet, shows genuine sorrow and concern when he notices the other mogwais eating past midnight and he resolves to fight Stripe to the end.
    • This is discussed in the WMG section: the popular theory is that if a mogwai is exposed to water against its will, their offspring will be Always Chaotic Evil. If the mogwai willfully exposes itself to water, it can choose the Character Alignment of it's offspring. What a good mogwai morphs into if it eats after midnight is beyond me...
    • I always saw the reproduced Mogwai as just bad seeds but not nearly as bad as the Gremlins, and that being transformed into a Gremlin brings out the bad side. Gizmo would turn evil if fed after midnight, but he might be less evil than the others.
      • Supported by the novelization: Less than 1% of Mogwai are good-natured. "Bad" mogwai are mischievous, and even potentially harmful, but still less dangerous than gremlins (in the novel, mogwai are genetically hardwired to be incapable of even contemplating harming another of their own species). And Gizmo tells Stripe that he'd be as violent and short-lived as the others if he exploited "the third secret".
    • If Gizmo would turn evil when turned into a gremlin, why wouldn't the gremlins just forcibly turn him into one of them?
      • Probably because they hate/despise their father enough that they don't think he's deserving of becoming one of them. They would see their evil nature as a great gift.
    • Remember, when Gizmo's offered food after midnight, he turns it down. He either found it unappetizing, wasn't hungry, or he may have some sense that it's after midnight and he shouldn't, but wasn't able to properly convey this to Billy. Or he simply thought "It's late, I'd better not take any chances despite what the clock says", he's a fairly smart little guy. Anyway, simple answer: Gizmo wouldn't turn evil by transforming simply because he'd do everything in his power to avoid transforming in the first place.
  • Mr. Futterman mentions the gremlins as the things that caused mechanical problems during WWII, but the mogwai was bought from a Chinese shop, in a Chinatown and has a Cantonese name. It was Japan that we fought in WWII. It just seems like a stretch that the writers would try to connect the two like that.
    • The writers didn't make up the part about the Gremlins sabotaging planes. Gremlins are actual folkloric creatures who are supposed to do just that and had been depicted in media long before the movie. As for the Chinese shop, it just fits (in a racist, oriental kind of sense) that the mysterious generic Asian (Chinese) guy would have certain mysterious mythological creatures such as Gremlins.
    • The old man also never refers to the monsters as gremlins, and he's probably the only one who would know their proper name. Billy is the one who started calling them that. He had recently had a conversation with Mr. Futterman about little monsters that wreck things, was now faced with little monsters that wreck things, and decided to use that term. Might qualify as an Ironic Echo.
    • China was also fighting Japan during World War II. It was a World War after all, not just USA v Japan. I don't remember the exact quote but I doubt Mr. Futterman was implying that it was anything to do with the Japanese anyway. It was just an observation.
    • Variations of sprites exist in folklore all over the world. Who says gremlins can't exist between two nearby countries in the same continent?
    • Mogwai actually are creatures of Chinese folklore (They're a type of sprite). And, according to the mythos, when it rains, Mogwai..well...become horny and start to breed like rabbits (hence the whole "Water=Babies for Mogwai/Gremlins" scenario). The film simply merged the two mythologies together to form a single creature.
  • No mention of this scene yet? In the first movie, two policemen drive up to a house to see a man screaming for help as a bunch of gremlins maul him. The two officers look at each other, decide they're uncomfortable and drive off, leaving the man to his death. And this is NEVER addressed! By the very definition of their job, these two policemen just murdered a man through inaction. Yet do they ever receive any comeuppance? Never! I can't even watch the film anymore without that scene leaving me fuming.
    • Their break line is cut by a gremlin, and their car crashes; the only person who gets worse comeuppance is Mrs. Deagle.
    • Actually, given that the movie takes place in the U.S., Warren v. District of Columbia says that their job description doesn't force them to provide individual protection to people. That said, they had never seen gremlins in their lives before, so understandably they were unnerved. Mind you, they seemed rather callous about it.
    • Rule of Funny (the scene was played in a comedic light). And yes, as another troper has noted, they do receive their comeuppance.
    • You think them driving off is bad? Originally they were even more callous; Frank (the sheriff) was supposed to say "The hell with him!" as he rolls up the car window and speeds off. Spielberg objected to this, and so the line was cut, although you can still see the actor mouthing the line.
  • I hope Chuck Jones didn't get bothered by any Gremlins.
    • Nah, if he had, then his concept of a gremlin would have looked a lot more like metamorphosed mogwai than an imp wearing footie pajamas (jump suit?) with a missile nose sticking out each side of its head.
  • Another issue on the Water Rule. How is Gizmo supposed to stay hydrated?
    • By drinking orange juice, Coke and Pepsi. As I said before, the comic books and novel explictly demonstrated that only clear, pure, liquid water works on mogwais.
      • Aren't carbonated drinks dehydrant?
      • That's a myth propagated by the same people that think you need to drink seven glasses of water a day.
      • Caffeine is diuretic, hence somewhat dehydrating. Carbonation doesn't add to or reduce a drink's hydration effect.
    • Also, the rule is "don't get them wet." A simple drink of water may not do it.
    • Who said they even need water?
      • Exactly. They're like kangaroo rats.
  • What happend to the old Chinese's grandson in between the two movies?
    • Either he is no longer in the picture or he and his grandad had one hell of a falling out. When Forster sees how sick Mr. Wing is he immediately decides that they can wait for him to die. Inference: Forster knows that Wing either has no heir to pass the shop to, or his only heir is someone willing to sell to Clamp against his grandfather's obvious wishes; seeing how quickly the kid went behind Mr. Wing's back to sell Gizmo, the old man's family selling the place against his wishes is actually pretty plausible.
  • How come nobody ever told Mrs. Deagle that Animal Cruelty is a crime?
  • Why do the Peltzers have a toy robot in the stocking if their only child is a teenager?
  • Regarding the death of Mr. Hanson, what is kept in an elementary school science class that can be injected into a person to kill them? When Billy finds Hanson, you can still see there's some clear fluid of some sort inside the syringe. So what did he get injected with?
    • Who said it was the liquid that killed him? Gremlins are quite well equipped in that department themselves. The syringe could've been a sedative or just some random stuff it jabbed into him, because, well, crazy and evil. And was it even confirmed that the man was dead?
      • I thought the implication was that the gremlin injected an air bubble into his bloodstream and gave him an embolism. Are you sure the syringe had anything in it?
    • I always tough that the Gremlim just killed him (With claws, bites, knifes, bazookas, falling pianos... they are gremlims, after all) and finally, he put the syringe in his ass "as revenge" for what he did before. The syringe made the scene more fun for me when I saw the movie as child, as it was a "funny, slapstick death", instead of just plain horror.
  • Does the rule literally require them to be FED after midnight, or simply to EAT after midnight? And if so, what are the requirements of being "fed" (apparently snatching a sandwich off a counter is acceptable). I ask this because it seems like it would make it unbelievably easy for a mogwai who wanted to transform to do so. All he has to do is palm a tiny amount of food (assuming there isn't a minimum amount), and eat it after midnight, which makes the clock trick seem rather pointless.
    • Yes, it would be very easy for an ill-tempered Mogwai to transform. That's part of the point, you have to be very responsible to be trusted with one.
  • This one falls under the MST3K Mantra, obviously, but it confuses me as to why Mogwai/Gremlins seem in pain when water is splashed on them. Biologically, conception should be pleasant, to encourage organisms to do it as much as possible. Yet Gizmo is clearly in pain when he gets water on himself.
    • It's not conception, it's giving birth, which is generally regarded as feeling unpleasant.
  • Wait, why would the Gender Bender potion in the second movie even work on a Mogwai or Gremlin? They're a species that reproduces asexually, so logic would lead one to the conclusion that they don't have a gender.
    • Just because a species can reproduce asexually, it doesn't necessarily follow that they are themselves asexual or hermaphroditic.
  • How could Kate possibly mistake Daffy for Gizmo long enough to take him home? I'll give her a pass on physical resemblance as she didn't know Gizmo for that long. She probably can't tell one mogwai from another and those two are at least somewhat similar in fur colors. But come on, she spent enough time around Gizmo to know he's not a hyperactive lunatic. And given how paranoid she is about the entire situation, wouldn't any deviation be enough to send up a warning flag?
  • In the second movie if there was a serum that removes gremlins' only weakness (and gives wings!), why didn't they instantly jump all over that stuff? At least why didn't the smart one inject himself with it?
    • For all we know, the Brain Gremlin did inject himself with the genetic sunblock (which was different from the bat serum) offscreen once he saw that it worked; it wasn't the sun that killed him. The others likely didn't know what it was.

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