Gremlins is a 1984 American horror comedy film directed by Joe Dante, released by Warner Bros. The film is about a young man who receives a strange creature--called a Mogwai--as a pet, which then spawns other creatures who transform into small, destructive, evil monsters. It was followed by a sequel, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, released in 1990. In contrast to the sequel, the original Gremlins opts for more of a black comedy, which is balanced against a Christmas-time setting. Both films were also the center of large merchandising campaigns.
Randall Peltzer, a struggling inventor, visits a Chinatown antique store in the hope of finding a Christmas present for his son Billy. In the store, Randall encounters a small, furry creature called a mogwai (Cantonese: 魔怪, "monster"). The owner, Mr. Wing, refuses to sell the creature to Randall. However, his grandson secretly sells the mogwai to Randall, warning him to remember three important rules that must never be broken – do not expose the mogwai to bright lights or sunlight which will kill it, do not let it get wet, and never feed it after midnight.
Randall returns home to Kingston Falls where he gives the mogwai to Billy as a pet. Billy works in the local bank, where he fears his dog Barney will be captured and killed by the elderly Mrs. Deagle. Randall names the mogwai “Gizmo” and Billy makes sure to treat him well. When Billy’s friend Pete spills a glass of water over Gizmo, five more mogwai spawn from his back, a more troublemaking sort led by the aggressive Stripe. Billy shows one of the mogwai to his former science teacher Mr. Hanson, spawning another mogwai, on whom Hanson experiments. Back at home, Stripe’s gang tricks Billy into feeding them after midnight by chewing out the power cord to his bedside clock. They make cocoons, as does Hanson’s mogwai. Shortly after, the cocoons hatch and they emerge as mischievous, reptilian monsters that torture Gizmo and try to murder Billy’s mother, while Hanson is killed by his gremlin.
All of the Gremlins are killed except Stripe, who escapes to a local YMCA and jumps into a swimming pool, spawning an army of gremlins who wreak chaos around Kingston Falls. Billy tries to warn the police, but they don’t believe him. Many people are injured or outright killed by the gremlins' rampage, including Mrs. Deagle, who is launched out of her house on a stair lift that has been sabotaged by the creatures. At the local bar, the gremlins have fun until the barmaid Kate Beringer, Billy’s girlfriend, flashes them with a camera and escapes into the bank with Billy and Gizmo. While hiding, she reveals her father died in a chimney while dressed as Santa Claus. Billy and Kate discover the town has fallen silent and the Gremlins are watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in the local theater. They set off an explosion, killing all the Gremlins except Stripe.
Billy chases Stripe into a Montgomery Ward store, where Stripe climbs into a water fountain and tries to spawn more gremlins. Gizmo arrives in a toy car and opens a skylight, exposing Stripe to sunlight and melting him. In the aftermath of the rampage, Mr. Wing arrives to collect Gizmo, scolding the Peltzers for their carelessness, thinking the Western world is not ready but comments that Billy might some day be ready to care for Gizmo properly. Gizmo likewise believes so, having become attached to Billy. Mr. Wing departs with Gizmo in tow.