Ghostbusters: Afterlife was a movie that relied heavily on nostalgia for the original franchise. While many of the film’s references to the original 1986 movie were overt connections to the plot, there were also a lot of easter eggs and other references that were really just there to entertain the fans, which is not to say that didn’t work. However, it seems that one sequence, the one containing dozens of miniature Stay-Puft marshmallow men, wasn’t so much inspired by the original Ghostbusters as it was inspired by another classic 1984 movie, Gremlins.
The scene includes Paul Rudd in a store, picking up some ice cream when he comes across the mini-puft creatures having a good time, but also being pretty destructive. While the scene certainly takes inspiration from the 100-foot tall marshmallow man in the original film, VFX supervisor Pier Lefebvre tells Variety that the scene was actually inspired by the original Gremlins, explaining…
The two movies are even more closely connected than that. They were not only released in the same year, but on the same day, June 8, 1984. Ghostbusters was the box office champ for the opening weekend, by about $1 million.
It’s easy to see the connection between the mini-pufts and the Gremlins. They’re a bunch of tiny little hellraisers that are just running wild all over the place. The guys in Ghostbusters: Afterlife certainly have more in common with the Gremlins than they do with Mr. Stay-Puft, at least in the way they’re acting.
The finale of Gremlins takes place in a shopping mall and that’s the scene that seems to be getting referenced here the most strongly. You could see the Gremlins in this scene in Ghostbusters: Afterlife destroying everything they get close to, and possibly even destroying themselves, as the little marshmallow guys do. Self preservation isn’t high on the list for any of these creatures.
While the original Gremlins was a bit scarier than Ghostbusters by virtue of the fact that they were both PG movies, a lot of young people likely grew up watching both films and they are looked back on by many with the same nostalgia. The PG-13 rating was introduced the month after these movies came out, and for years it was clear the MPAA wasn’t sure what to do with it.
Considering how closely these two franchises have been, it’s nice to see the one make reference to the other. And now that we’ve finally seen the long awaited third Ghostbusters movie, maybe there’s a chance that the illusive third Gremlins movie will also arrive some day soon.