We all know you can't get them wet, expose them to bright light, or feed them after midnight.

But '80s cult classic Gremlins was actually inspired by a vermin infestation in fledgling writer Chris Columbus's New York apartment, reports news.com.au.

"By day, it was pleasant enough," recalls Columbus, who was attending film school at NYU. "But at night, what sounded like a platoon of mice would come out and to hear them skittering around in the blackness was really creepy."

And there's more Gremlins madness where that came from …

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GREMLINS WAS MEANT TO BE A MUCH DARKER TALE

The original script was a violent, schlocky affair. Case in point: when Billy's mom investigates the strange noises coming from the attic, the gremlins lop off her head and it tumbles down the stairs. The hungry little buggers also devour the family dog and rampage in their local Maccas and eat all the customers. Not cute? Producer Steven Spielberg and director Joe Dante didn't think so either. so they toned the script down to make it more family friendly.

ALLEGATIONS OF RACISM

Right from the get-go Gremlins was criticised for being culturally insensitive, using the creatures to caricature African-American youth. In Ceramic Uncles & Celluloid Mammies, author Patricia Turner pointed to the fact gremlins liked to eat fried chicken, listen to black music, breakdance and wear sunglasses at night in newsboy caps, a style popular with African American youth at the time.

No monkeys were harmed in this scene! Photo / Warner Bros
No monkeys were harmed in this scene! Photo / Warner Bros

MONKEYING AROUND

Because CGI didn't exist back in 1984, some bright spark came up with the idea of using real-life monkeys to portray the gremlins. "We actually did get a monkey and put a head on him and watched him careen around the editing room, pooping on everything in terror," says Dante. "We decided it wasn't really going to work out." And P.E.T.A thanks you!

COSTLY LITTLE CRITTERS

In the end they decided to use animatronic puppets, at a staggering cost of $30,000 to $40,000 each. Zach Galligan, who played Billy, said they were so expensive it was commonplace for security to routinely check the cast and crews' cars to make sure no one had nicked one!

COREY WAS A LITTLE THIEF

Corey Feldman had sticky fingers on the set of Gremlins. Photo / Warner Bros
Corey Feldman had sticky fingers on the set of Gremlins. Photo / Warner Bros

Corey Feldman's classmates didn't believe he was filming a top secret movie. So what's a typical 12-year old to do? Steal something from the set, of course! "One day I did steal a little patch of Mogwai hair, and I came to school with it and I said, 'This is my proof, man! I'm working on this movie!' And they were like, 'So you stole some carpet?'" As Gremlins was still in production his mates had no idea what a Mogwai (Cantonese for monster) even was.

CONTROVERSIAL CASTING

How cute are Zach and Phoebe? Photo / Warner Bros
How cute are Zach and Phoebe? Photo / Warner Bros

While it's hard to imagine anyone else in the role of Kate, the studio was initially reticent to cast Phoebe Cates in a lead role because of her infamous topless scene in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. All that changed when they clapped eyes on the dreamy chemistry between the Cates and Galligan.

LOVING HIMSELF SICK

God bless, Spielberg. He littered Gremlins with Easter eggs referencing his own movies. Not only does one of the little devils say "phone home", keep your eyes peeled for a stuffed E.T. and a movie marquee that cheekily points to his own work. A Boy's Life was the shooting title for E.T. and Watch the Skies was an early working title for Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Steven Spielberg planted Easter eggs everywhere! Photo / Warner Bros
Steven Spielberg planted Easter eggs everywhere! Photo / Warner Bros

DANCEFLOOR DISASTER

Back in 1983 Michael Sembello scored a worldwide hit with Maniac from Flashdance. A year later the powers-that-be were hoping Gremlins would do the same and asked Sembello to record Gremlins … Mega Madness. It's so bad, it has Hipster revival written all over it.

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Will Mogwai make it through Gremlins 3? Will there even be a Gremlins 3? Photo / Warner Bros
Will Mogwai make it through Gremlins 3? Will there even be a Gremlins 3? Photo / Warner Bros

A SEQUEL ON THE WAY?

A third Gremlins instalment has been on-again off-again for years. In 2017 it was revealed Chris Columbus has written a "twisted and dark" script that explores the idea that "if all the gremlins come from getting Gizmo wet and feeding his mogwai offspring after midnight, should Gizmo be eliminated?" Sounds like a winner to us!