FANS of cult classic Gremlins have long debated whether it actually counts as a Christmas film.

But now it's time to put this one to bed – as Steven Spielberg’s 1984 comedy horror has been revealed as the most critically acclaimed Christmas franchise of all time.

The festive favourite, which centres around Billy and his new pet, Gizmo, which his dad buys him as a Christmas present, made stars of many of its teen cast.

It also gave rise to the – albeit less successful – 1990 follow-up Gremlins 2: The New Batch. And it's set to get a TV reboot with a prequel series, Gremlins: Secrets of Mogwai, due to air next year.

It's been almost four decades since the original came out, so let's see what the cast is up to these days.

From marrying a Hollywood heartthrob to an America's got Talent judge and shoplifting shame, there's been no shortage of highs and lows.


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Zach Galligan

The 19-year-old beat off stiff competition from the likes of Kevin Bacon when he got his big break playing Billy Peltzer in the cult horror flick.

Despite the success of Gremlins making him one of the most in demand actors in Hollywood, he soon fell off the radar.

And in 2014, he revealed the reason why. After Gremlins, his parents pushed for him to find “a more stable career” so he decided to take a break from acting to attend Columbia University.

After returning to LA in 1988, he made the Gremlins sequel but it tanked at the box office.

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His decision to take a hiatus from acting is something he has come to regret, because he believes it ultimately killed his career.

He said: “Three years is a lifetime in Hollywood. If your career starts slipping in LA you can really feel it.

“All of a sudden the people that you were beating for a part start beating you.”

He spent the Nineties “waiting for an audition” and “partying”. In 2003, he was arrested for allegedly shoplifting a CD from a Los Angeles Tower Records store.

Last year, Zach, now 58, starred in a Mountain Dew advert in America alongside Gizmo.

Hoyt Axton

He was a successful folk, country and rock singer-songwriter who worked with Elvis Presley and Ringo Starr before taking on the role of Billy’s dad, Rand Peltzer.

After Gremlins, Hoyt, who was married four times and had five sons, struggled with cocaine addiction and even penned songs about it.

In 1997, Hoyt and his partner Deborah Hawkins were arrested for marijuana possession. Deborah, who later married Hoyt, claimed she gave him the drugs for medical reasons. Two years earlier, Hoyt had suffered a stroke that left him confined to a wheelchair.

The pair were fined and given suspended sentences.

Hoyt never recovered from his stroke and died of a heart attack in 1999, aged 61.

Phoebe Cates

Phoebe started acting aged ten and had already starred in a few films before playing Billy’s girlfriend Kate Beringer.

She landed her first film role at 17 in the 1982 Blue Lagoon knock-off Paradise which controversially featured her naked.

But her breakout role came a few months later in her racy turn in the coming-of-age film Fast Times at Ridgemont High, which also starred Nicolas Cage, Sean Penn and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

After the cult classic, she continued to act and even reprised her role as Kate in Gremlins 2: The New Batch in 1990. But four years later – at the height of her fame – she decided to quit acting to focus on raising her two children with husband award-winning actor Kevin Kline, who she met during an audition for the 1983 film The Big Chill.

Away from the spotlight, Phoebe, 59, runs a boutique in New York, where she lives with her husband and children Owen, 27, and Greta, 25.

But she did make a small comeback in 2001, as a favour to former co-star Jennifer Jason Leigh by taking a role in her directorial debut, The Anniversary Party.

Howie Mandel

Before providing the voice for Billy’s cute, furry pet Gizmo, Howie starred in the medical drama St. Elsewhere.

He went on to act and guest-star in shows including My Name is Earl before making a name for himself in stand-up comedy.

But he’s now more known for his presenting work – including as a judge on America’s Got Talent.

The 67-year-old has suffered from OCD since he was a child, although he wasn't officially diagnosed until he was an adult. He won’t shake hands with anyone unless he is wearing latex gloves.

He used to have a full head of head but shaved it off to make it easier to keep himself “clean”.

The germaphobe even ran off stage during one audition for America’s Got Talent 2010 as the act involved sneezing.

He said of his OCD: “I’m living in a nightmare.”

Corey Feldman

Child star Corey had roles in The Goonies, Stand By Me and Lost Boys before landing the part of Billy’s pal, Peter Fountaine, in Gremlins.

But when the big roles dried up, he decided to turn his hand to music, becoming the lead singer with the ska band Corey Feldman's Truth Movement.

More recently, Corey, now 51, has capitalised on his childhood fame by starring in a string of reality TV shows.

He and fellow child actor Corey Haim – best friends and regular co-stars – were known as the Two Coreys.

When Haim died, aged 38, from pneumonia in 2010, Feldman claimed the pair had suffered sex abuse in the film industry.

Feldman, whose documentary film My Truth: The Rape of 2 Coreys came out in 2020, said: “He made me promise before he died that I would get the truth out.”

Judge Reinhold

Like Phoebe, the actor also starred in the high school drama film Fast Times at Ridgemont High before going on to play Billy’s rival, Gerald Hopkins.

He became a huge star, with roles in hit movies including Beverly Hills Cop and The Santa Claus franchise, but his self-proclaimed bad behaviour saw film roles dry up.

He has said: “I was spoiled and I was arrogant…I was very demanding, had an overblown image of who I was and got a reputation for being difficult. And rightfully so.”

He found himself on the wrong side of the law in 2016 when he was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge following a meltdown at a Texas airport, which saw him hurl expletives at airport security and tear off his own shirt in protest after refusing a bag search.

Judge, now 65, later apologised and pleaded ‘no contest’ in court, meaning his charge would be dropped as long as he didn’t get in trouble in the following 90 days.

Frank Welker

You might not recognise Frank Welker’s face but you will certainly know his voice. He is one of the most prolific voice actors of all time.

Frank played Stripe, the white-mohawked mogwai that led the evil first batch of gremlins and has voiced more than 800 productions.

He has leant his vocal cords to some of the best-known characters on TV and film, including Fred in Scooby Doo, Doctor Claw in Inspector Gadget, Garfield, and Azrael in The Smurfs. And the list goes on and on.

Most recently, Frank, who in 2016 received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Emmys for his work, voiced multiple robots in the latest Transformers film.

Despite his impressive back catalogue, the 76-year-old has yet to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Glynn Turman

Since playing science teacher Roy Hanson in Gremlins, Glynn has become a mainstay on our screens.

Best known for playing Mayor Royce in the hit series The Wire, he has also starred in House of Lies as Don Cheadle's on-screen dad and in the comedy drama series Fargo.

In 2008, he won an Emmy for his guest appearance in HBO drama In Treatment.

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Glynn has been married three times, including to legendary musician Aretha Franklin. Despite divorcing in 1984, they remained close friends and he visited her alongside singer Stevie Wonder shortly before her death from cancer in 2017.

Glynn, 75, said at the time: “I felt her pulse holding her frail, frail arm. I was able to feel her pulse, which was strong. So she was fighting ’til the very end.”

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