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Saturday April 13th 2024

Gremlins | 1984

Although there are no practical, real-world locations in Gremlins, there are a couple of spots you can visit on studio tours.

The filming was split between two studios – Warner Bros in Burbank and the nearby Universal Studios Hollywood (which is not in Hollywood at all of course).

The town of ‘Kingston Falls, Pennsylvania’ is the Universal backlot and, yes, you’ll recognise the centre of town as Courthouse Square, now famous from Back To The Future, filmed the year after Gremlins.

The square wasn’t built for that film. It dates from 1948 and, before finding fame as ‘Hill Valley’ it was known as Mockingbird Square, after being used as ‘Maycomb’ in 1962’s To Kill A Mockingbird. It’s been damaged by fire a few times over the years, notably in the 2008 backlot fire, but it’s been restored and you can still catch it on the Studio Tour.

Much of the rest of the film was made at Warner Bros. The ‘Chinatown’ store where Randall Peltzer (Hoyt Axton) buys the Mogwai, stands on the Hennessy Street set on the backlot. An old ’New York Street’, this was revamped for the 1982 film Annie. It’s now famous for the fire-escape seen in the upside-down kiss in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man and more recently for the 19th century ’New York’ of The Greatest Showman.

You can see it on the smaller but more intimate, and highly-recommended, Warner Bros VIP Studio Tour, filming schedules permitting.

Also on the tour, you can see what’s known as the Seavers’ house, the family home from TV’s Eighties series Growing Pains. This was used as the home for nasty Mrs Deagle (Polly Holliday), who comes to a bad end when her stairlift is sabotaged by the Gremlins.

Sadly, the actual Peltzer family home itself has been lost – but only recently. You probably wouldn't have seen it anyway as it stood not on the main backlot but on the Warner Bros Ranch, 411 Hollywood Way, across the Ventura Freeway north of the WB lot. This wasn’t open for tours.

The WB Ranch was originally the Columbia Ranch, built in the mid-Thirties as a more extensive outdoor lot than could be provided by Columbia’s Sunset-Gower Studios in central Hollywood.

The Peltzer house stood on what was known as the Blondie Street. Nothing to do with the 80s band, this was the location of the house seen in the series of 1940s Blondie movies, based on the popular Blondie and Dagwood newspaper cartoon strip. The house used in Gremlins was known as the Olivers’ house, after a family who lived there in a 1935 film. It went on to more fame as the home of Dennis the Menace in the 1950s TV series.

Warner Bros finally sold off the ranch for redevelopment in 2019 and in early 2023, the famous streets began to be demolished.