Released back in 1984, Gremlins tells the tale of young Billy who inadvertently breaks three important rules concerning his new pet and unleashes a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town.
We spoke to Gremlins star Frances Lee McCain who plays Billy’s mother Lynn Peltzer about battling those pesky creatures and working with director Joe Dante…
You had a very natural quality as Billy’s mother in Gremlins. What did you try to bring to the role?
Joe is not a director who, at least in this film, delves much into character analysis – frankly, when you’re doing an essentially broad-stroke comic-book style of film, that would be pretty tedious! What he did convey, and I tried to live up to, was a wife and mother who loved her husband and son in spite of their foibles, who was happy with her lot in life and content to let her loved ones be who they were. However, she might worry about the future, and therefore – in my mind – a woman who could turn into a fierce protectress when circumstances called for it!
What was it like filming the home confrontation scene?
The throwing of the plates, particularly as I used the TV tray as a shield, was a bit of a nightmare. Because of filmic angles I had to yell and advance on an imaginary Gremlin, not on the fellow off-camera who was throwing plates at me. So I couldn’t look directly at where the plates were coming from, which made for some dicey moments for both the guy throwing the plates and me! I thought [microwaving the Gremlin] was brilliant, as it portrayed a popular urban myth of the time, with lots of stories of cats blown up in microwaves.
And being attacked by a Christmas Tree?
Filming those scenes were a real hoot for us all, in spite of trying to work out the technicalities. The fight with the Christmas tree was especially hilarious as I recall, with a puppet attached to my neck while I did all the work of thrashing about to make it look real. Also, we filmed the moment when I approach the kitchen (after turning off the record player) in reverse, so to speak, where I had to start by peering into the kitchen and then pull back. In the film itself that piece actually runs backwards, so it looks as though I gather courage and then peer into the kitchen. I remember those sequences quite fondly as days of great collaboration, lots of laughter amid the problem solving, and a sense of accomplishment when we felt we’d got things right.
Gremlins is available to purchase now on Blu-ray.