Gremlins 2: Phantom Gremlin Movie Prop
What happens when two Gremlins decide to get a little mischievous inside a genetics lab...with acid? We end up with the Phantom Gremlin.
THE GREMLINS MUSEUM
Phantom Gremlin Movie Prop
screen used main Matt Rose sculpt used throughout the movie
The Phantom Gremlin from the 1990 movie Gremlins 2: The New Batch is a true epitome of terror and horror. With its wrinkled and leathery skin, long, sharp claws and razor-sharp teeth, it looks like a monster straight from a nightmare. Its eyes are piercing with a malevolent gleam, giving it almost a demonic appearance.
Sometimes something so cool comes around that the more you go digging, the cooler it gets. To me, this is one of those times. Back in November 2021 I became aware of a very interesting Matt Rose sculpt Gremlin who was busy rotting away in a warehouse. Crazy, right?! Upon looking at the photos, it became clear that this guy was a foreground hand puppet prop, meaning he had all the controls and typical PVC stand of a Gremlin who was got some solid screen time. Background Gremlins with no real controls are a bit of a dime-a-dozen, but there was something special about this particular puppet and I was very curious to find out what.
So just like every other little self-assigned project, I dove in to see if I could screen-match him. He has distinct enough ear spots, unique and prominent eyelids, and also the 'I just got hit by water' bubbling on the back. That's some good clues to start with.
Not long into my search, I found our little friend here dramatically being sprayed by a beaker with the label "Acid: Do Not Throw in Face". You can easily spot the telltale heart on his camera-right ear as well as the distinct pattern on the left. Incredible! We've got the pre-acid Phantom Gremlin here!
But what if there was more? Clearly he was also designated for the end where the Gremlins are dramatically being sprayed by a hose from Mr. Futterman. Sure enough, there he was again. This time I was able to match the back ear pattern to a photo of the prop. For the scene they most likely shoved some insert legs coming out of the ground, while a puppeteer was controlling him from under the stage.
To make things even more fun, I started spotting this little fellow everywhere! His distinct ear heart spot made seeing him in the crowd almost like a game, and sure enough they must have had this puppet on standby for most of the movie. He was someone's favorite for sure (keep an eye on the white arrows below).
And my personal favorite...just staring at the Brain Gremlin while he belts out New York, New York. What a riot.
As you can see, this puppet needed a lot of work if we were going to have anything even remotely worth displaying. Showering a foam latex prop with a firehouse worth of water and then letting it sit for 30+ years is a sure fire way to rapidly decay a puppet like this. At the start of the project he had significant hand foam missing, an almost entirely severed neck, as well as solid decay across the chest and back.
Heading up the restoration was Kira Tidmore, who used her talents to bring back his mischievous personality.
Early on, it was just a hope that we could get this beautiful puppet looking semi like his old self. Over time, you could slowly start to see Phantom's old self returning along with his very distinct 'I just got acid in my eyes' prominent eyelids which give him a bit more evil grin!
Final Restoration Photos
Thankfully Phantom transformed into his old self again and is now properly sealed to last another 30+ years. I love this photo below of him surrounded by the WB, George, Lenny and Vegetable Gremlin and looking absolutely crazy! Special thanks to Kira for all her help bringing this amazing puppet back to life.