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Dumb Things In Gremlins Everyone Ignored

It's a holiday movie, a family film, and a beloved horror comedy. And most of us were definitely scared out of our minds by Gremlins the first time we watched it as children. The film was considered something of a smart, charming oddity when it was released in 1984, with the notoriously hard-to-impress Roger Ebert describing it as a "sophisticated, witty B movie in which the monsters are devouring not only the defenseless town, but decades of defenseless clichés," and it's continued to endure as a heartwarming classic with a dark, mischievous underbelly ever since. 

However, that isn't to say it doesn't have its moments of pure, unadulterated stupidity. There are a whole lot of dumb things in Gremlins that everyone ignored, and continue to ignore, for good reason. After all, it's a genuinely special film about a bunch of tiny monsters that defy logic anyway, so why worry about the little things? But the truth is that while the film only improves with every rewatch (seriously), all of those dumb little moments also get louder and stupider with every rewatch, too. 

Stay dry, don't eat after midnight, and keep away from bright lights (and Corey Feldman), because these are all the dumb things everyone continues to love to hate about Gremlins.

Gremlin's vague mogwai rules

In hindsight, the three extremely vague rules that come with the sale of the world's cutest mogwai have always been the dumbest part of Gremlins. Considering that the consequences of not caring for the mogwai in the exact right way and within the exact right time results in utter chaos and irreparable destruction, you'd think Mr. Wing and his grandson would both be a little more hesitant about letting the general public anywhere near the little fur ball, never mind selling him to a total schmuck like Rand Peltzer.

But that's exactly what they do when Mr. Wing's grandson carelessly hands off Gizmo with little more than a rushed speech outlining the three dubious rules for taking care of him. Instead of providing a thick volume of strict guidelines to care for Gizmo and prevent a batch of murderous critters from taking over entire towns or cities (or the whole country), the kid casually reels off the fact that mogwai can't be exposed to bright light, be fed after midnight, or get wet, with no explanation as to why. 

Worse still, Mr. Wing's grandson leaves plenty of room for error by being conspicuously unclear about exactly what time after midnight mogwai can start eating again, what types of light constitute as "bright," and whether or not letting Gizmo consume fluids would constitute getting him wet. There are leather handbags that come with stricter care guidelines.

Rand cuts a deal with a kid

Mr. Wing's grandson might be young, but he's definitely old enough to understand right from wrong. And while bringing some much-needed money into the family business might be the right thing to do, selling off a high-maintenance, troublesome creature to a reckless stranger definitely is not. And that's especially true when you consider that struggling inventor Rand Peltzer can't even be trusted with handling toothpaste and shaving foam, let alone a mysterious creature with a great deal of catastrophic needs. But Mr. Wing's grandson can hardly be blamed for this gross oversight. 

It's a moment that many of us likely took for granted as children — and have likely continued to as adults — but watching Rand shove a fistful of money into this kid's hand in exchange for an exotic creature is several layers of stupid. The sight of a grown man doing a very serious (and expensive) business transaction with a child is unnerving in and of itself. But it's worsened by Mr. Wing adamantly repeating to Rand that the mogwai isn't for sale for any volume of money. Being the good American capitalist that he is, Rand knows that everything has a price, and that the best and only person to negotiate that price with is about ten years old and wears a baseball cap. Rand Peltzer is winning at life, everyone!

Peltzer products defy logic

Though they're riddled with basic operational flaws, Peltzer products like "the Bathroom Buddy" or "the Smokeless Ashtray" at least make some sense in providing convenient solutions to basic, everyday problems. Sadly, they're about as good as the Peltzer product line gets, as the rest of Rand's creations are unnecessary and pretty dumb. For example, there's the coffee machine that doesn't appear to improve on any existing models of coffee machines and that also seems to inexplicably change the molecular consistency of coffee to a viscous, black goo that's neither appetizing or edible.

Then there's the electric hammer that looks as though it's barely strong enough to hit a nail through a block of butter, and there's also a quadruple-speared fly swatter that looks like it merely provides four times the incompetence of a single fly swatter and little else. But the Peltzer product stupidity really hits peak levels when it comes to the lidless blender. It's an industrial strength kitchen product that, presumably, is made for all the chefs of the world who just wish they could be liberated from the clean and safe tyranny of blender lids. We see exactly how this bad boy functions later on in the movie when Mrs. Peltzer throws a gremlin into the thing and subsequently floods the entire kitchen with oozing, green blood. 

There are some seriously bad economics in Gremlins

With Rand clearly failing at his inventor career, Billy appears to be the only member of the Peltzer family bringing in a stable income. That's a three-person household (four if you include Barney the dog as a member of the family) being sustained on a single person's wage. As anyone who's lived under similar circumstances can attest, it's a struggle to live like this, and you're certainly not diving into Christmas with the same festive exuberance and indifferent armfuls of presents that the Peltzers are, no matter how much you love holidays. 

It also makes Rand's decision to throw a few hundred dollars at an unusual and high-risk gift for Billy all the more stupid. That's especially true if you consider that Rand likely doesn't make much of his own income, and whatever money he's spending on presents is probably coming straight out of his son's wage slip. But then, they aren't the only family in town shown to be struggling or being irresponsible with money. And the bad decisions made by the people of Kingston Falls during a time of great financial uncertainty is kind of one of the running themes of Gremlins

Dead Santa? No biggie!

It's by far one of the darkest, silliest, and most unexpected moments in Gremlins. Yeah, we're talking about the scene where Kate tells Billy about how her dad died while climbing down their chimney dressed as Santa Claus. Apparently, both Warner Bros. executives wanted the scene chopped from the final cut, and director Joe Dante had to fiercely fight to save it. Thankfully, he won (with the help of Steven Spielberg). As somber as it is stupid, the scene is actually one of the greatest and most memorable of the entire film, but its existence is entirely dumb for one other major reason. There's no way a story this weird and shocking wouldn't already be known by every single person in Kingston Falls, including Billy. 

This is, after all, a very small town where everyone knows everybody else's business. And you best believe that a ghoul like Mrs. Deagle would absolutely delight in bringing it up at every opportunity to ruin the joy and mirth of the festive season. And yet, when Kate emotionally tells Billy the story as a way to explain why Christmas isn't a fantastic time of year for her and her family, he clearly has no idea about it. Regardless of whether Kate was living in Kingston Falls at the time of the incident or not, that's the kind of harrowing anecdote that would legitimately follow a person. 

Corey Feldman survives electrocution

A movie about an adorable, fuzzy little critter who sprouts a squadron of terrifying monsters was never going to be completely child friendly. Which is presumably why everyone behind the scenes of the film probably thought it was a fine idea to make the movie's youngest character the absolutely dumbest, too. Corey Feldman's Pete is exactly the sort of clumsy, sticky-fingered kid that you keep as far away from all of your prized possessions as possible. And yet in Gremlins, he's the first person that Billy introduces to Gizmo, and within seconds, he's also the first person to get the poor little fella wet.

But Pete's crowning moment of stupidity arrives when he chooses to fight back against the gremlins ... by cutting them down from a string of Christmas lights. On paper, it's easy to miss just how idiotic this plan is, but the more you think about it, the worse it gets. First of all, the Christmas lights are very much plugged in, switched on, and are highly active as a result. So active that Pete would likely be reduced to a fried lump of human flesh if he were to genuinely cut through a live wire like this in the real world. But it's also dangerous from an audience perspective, teaching every dumb kid who sees the film that they're somehow immune to the everyday behaviors of electricity.

Kate keeps slinging hooch

Anyone who's ever had to work in a busy bar can attest to the fact that drunk humans are not too dissimilar from drunk gremlins. And no matter how much of a rookie you are when it comes to tending bar, everyone knows that you certainly don't deal with a bunch of unruly drunks by plying them with more alcohol when they demand it. And yet, this is exactly the solution Kate goes for when Dorry's Tavern comes under attack by a disorderly gang of the little beasts. 

It's a dumb move, and it's also a nonsensical one for many reasons. The first being that — aside from the gremlin who's wielding a gun and for whatever reason knows how to use the darn thing — drunk gremlins just don't look like they're much of a threat. They're clumsy, jelly-legged, and light-headed, and there's a good chance Kate could fight her way out through them with little more than a gentle nudge. Secondly, not only are the gremlins shown as being perfectly capable of helping themselves to as much hooch as they like (so why would they even need a bartender?), but Kate also seems to be intuitively topping up drinks and even handing out nibbles to the rowdy, unwelcome rabble like they're Norm and Cliff in an episode of Cheers

Gremlins hate fire, love cigarettes

During their takeover of Dorry's Tavern, the gremlins showcase how they don't seem to completely understand the parameters of their own rules, including how badly bright lights can affect their overall well-being. There are plenty of gremlins enjoying at least one — if not multiple — lit cigarettes at any one time. Which begs the question, how did the gremlins even light these things in the first place if they're so repelled and harmed by a bright light such as a flame? And would the very end of a lit cigarette also constitute a bright light in a room dark enough to make that bad boy glow? 

It's this conundrum that ultimately makes their horrified reaction to Kate striking a match and lighting a tall flame at the end of this scene all the more perplexing and strange. Shouldn't this discovery have been made way earlier in this mass smoking session? To round off this truly mystifying sequence of events, Kate reacts to this discovery not by grabbing a bottle of cheap, strong hooch and making a Molotov cocktail with it, but by picking up a Polaroid camera and attempting to spook and dazzle the gremlins out of the bar with the flash function. This girl needs a crash course in unruly bar etiquette pronto

Billy mistakes a TV for a gremlin

During the climax of the film, Billy finds himself in a one-on-one confrontation against Stripe, the leader of the gremlin pack. And during the fight, he also winds up surrounded by towering stacks of television sets. There are rows upon rows of them — so many, in fact, that Billy is essentially walled in by them. While it's understandable that the poor guy is going to be a little on edge considering the DEFCON 1 assault he's suffering from these tiny terrors, what follows is inexplicably silly. 

Stripe takes control over all of the TVs in the store and broadcasts a live feed of his own cackling face across them. He shows up on only one TV to begin with, and Billy absolutely freaks out and subsequently smashes the television set to pieces. Why Billy can't differentiate between a huge television image of a gremlin and a real-life one is a question for the ages. But it's also a total mystery as to how Stripe figured out how to broadcast across several TV sets at once, and also how he managed to make just one TV set broadcast this live feed ahead of all the rest. 

No one hears Gizmo

He might not be making profound speeches or even complete sentences with Billy or anyone else, but make no mistake, Gizmo can speak English. Throughout Gremlins, he gives brief, usually singular word responses to the world he sees around him. And it also makes sense that that's the case. Mogwai are obviously observant creatures who absorb and imitate the world around them, as suggested by the early scene where Billy plays a simple song on a toy keyboard, and Gizmo precisely mimics the melody back to him. At various points in Gremlins, Gizmo says phrases like "uh-oh," "bright light," and "woof woof" very clearly. 

So when Billy and his new little bestie are forced to say goodbye to each other, it's truly incredulous for Billy to ask Mr. Wing whether he understands what Gizmo says because, duh dude – we've literally been hearing him speaking English for the entire movie. Mr. Wing even lays out the issue in the most straight-speaking, faux-philosophical way possible: "To hear, one has only to listen". Indeed. It's plausible that Billy simply didn't hear (or listen to) his mysterious pet at any of the moments that Gizmo spoke up, but it's also a bit of a stretch considering how expressive Gizmo is and how comfortable he acts around Billy, more than anyone else. It's a head-scratcher for sure!

Lynn still doesn't get it

Let's set the scene. It's Christmas. Your penniless husband has brought home an exotic creature the family can't afford. Said exotic creature has some strict rules concerning getting wet that your family fails to obey. This results in a sequence of hideous misadventures in which your town is overrun by monsters, several of your neighbors have likely been killed, and a lot of homes and businesses are likely destroyed. But you all manage to pull through, your son saves the day, and life goes (somewhat) back to normal. You'd probably learn an important lesson from all of that, right? Well, maybe not.

In Gremlins, Lynn Peltzer goes through all of this and still doesn't seem to understand a single shred of what happened or why. In classic mom style, Lynn suggests that, following his traumatic ordeal, Gizmo looks like he would love some chicken soup ... a messy, water-based meal sure to set in motion the exact same gremlin-sprouting nightmare that they've only just managed to bounce back from. It's bittersweet because on the one hand, Lynn means well, and chicken soup is the absolute business after going through the sort of frightful time that Gizmo has indisputably suffered. But on the other, the Peltzer family really need to sort their heads out and start paying better attention to how they can personally prevent mass destruction.

Mr. Wing still trusts the Peltzers at the end of Gremlins

Suffice to say, it's difficult to maintain much faith in the Peltzer family. They're a nice bunch, and they'd no doubt be swell at cook-offs or to hang with over a nice Sunday dinner (so long as none of Rand's inventions were involved), but you wouldn't trust them to water your plants, never mind care for a rare creature with a myriad of challenging needs. And yet, when Mr. Wing appears at their house to take back this creature, he inexplicably appears optimistic about their capacity to one day be the exact kind of caregivers that Gizmo needs. Which isn't the brightest of ideas.

Wing is understandably furious over the whole ordeal, and he goes into a well-earned tirade about how the Peltzers' society mistreats all of "nature's gifts" in this way. It's a solid rant, and it sure does sting. But he also undoes all of this hard work by shrugging off the whole thing and telling the Peltzers, "Perhaps one day you will be ready. Until then, mogwai will be waiting," as though the family hasn't just put their entire community at risk. Mr. Wing makes it sound like there's some basic mogwai caretaking test they can all take to prove they're finally worthy and ready for the creature when, let's be honest, the Peltzers probably don't deserve a second chance at caring for any mogwai, ever again.