Sometimes, there are characters in genre pictures that are so darned righteous, you can’t stop thinking about them or their amazing feats long after the movie is over. This column is dedicated to those cinematic bad-asses that keep us coming back for more. And who better to honor during the holiday season that Murray Futterman, played by that guy Dick Miller!
Normally, my #RESPECT column is relegated to a character from one movie, but what makes Mister Futterman amazing is his dual arc from Joe Dante’s Christmas classic GREMLINS to GREMLINGS 2: THE NEW BATCH. So this column is dedicated to his 2 cinematic appearances as the lovable neighbor next door.
In the original 1984 Joe Dante classic, GREMLINS, Mr. Futterman lives with his wife right next door to the Peltzers and has a penchant for kicking back a little too much booze while regaling stories of his time in World War 2. As he tells it, part of the most traumatizing aspect of “the big one” was their planes going down due to “gremlins.” You can’t blame him for boozing it up. He lost his job thanks to our least favorite Kingston Falls resident, the evil and ruthless Mrs. Deagle. But at least he’s got his snow plowing business for the time being.
That is until late in the movie when the entire town is overrun by mischievous “gremlins” and they come busting into his house in his own snowplow! GREMLINS was a fun, interesting time in genre movies. Here was a 1984 horror movie with a few mean-spirited, nasty moments disguised as a family-centric holiday picture. So, while I was somewhat alarmed as a kid by Gremlins exploding in the microwave or getting viciously stabbed to death, the thing that scarred me more than anything was poor Mr. and Mrs. Futterman getting mowed down in their own living room while Murray screams, “there are gremlins in my house!”
Thankfully, in 1990, Dante returned with his sequel GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH and, lo & behold, both of the Futterman’s survived their ordeal on that Christmas night 6 years earlier! Here’s where Mr. Futterman steps up, though.. I’m sure he probably dispatched his fair share of Gremlins in good ol’ W.W. II, but in 1984, they kind of caught him off guard. In GREMLINS 2, a hybrid bat-Gremlin comes swooping down in the middle of the Manahattan streets and Murray dukes it out with him, eventually dunking the nasty bat in fresh concrete until he retreats and forever becomes a building gargoyle! He’d been popping pills to come to terms with the fact that Gremlins weren’t real. But once he sees that they are, and he fears his old friend and neighbor Bill Peltzer might be in trouble, he sneaks into the sealed off building to kick some Gremlin ass! Because he “knows how to deal with these things!”
Mister Futterman, for being a brave soul that managed to also survive two separate Gremlin invasions. And for also being played by Dick Miller, you sir, have earned this hashtag!