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You know them; you know their rules. Keep them away from water. Never feed them after midnight. Sunlight will kill them. These guidelines were ingrained into countless kids since Amblin Entertainment debuted The Gremlins in 1984. And this imprint is what Amblin is betting on as they consider a reboot of the creature feature franchise that seemed to die with 1990's Gremlins 2: The New Batch.
Yesterday word hit that Warner Bros is in talks with Steven Spielberg's Amblin about relaunching Gremlins, which has spurred both cheers and outrage from fans of Gizmo and the gang. Here at Cinema Blend we're divided on the issue. Sean's already exhausted from the recent rash of '80s remakes, and Kristy is optimistic about this reboot's possibilities. Below they hash it out in the Great Debate, and you can join the discussion in comments.
SEAN: Kristy, the latest news out of the unoriginal Hollywood machine seems to suggest that they are ready to remake Joe Dante's critter classic. Add this to the pile of remakes and reboots that are digging into our 1980s memories for fun and profit. Footloose, The Karate Kid, Dirty Dancing... all have been remade or are on the docket for a remake. Does this bother you as much as it does me? Or do you want to see another Gremlins?
KRISTY: Well, I totally understand the kneejerk reaction to hate on remakes, especially in the horror genre where everything from Psycho to Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Carrie had been revamped. But I actually am intrigued by the idea of a Gremlins reboot. It was the first horror movie I remember seeing, and it had a huge impact on me. I sought out all of the creature feature rip-offs that followed, including Critters and Ghoulies. And those movies were tons of fun, even when badly done. So, yeah, I'm game for Gremlins rebooted.
SEAN: Part of me wonders, whenever I hear of yet another remake of a cherished '80s property, whether ANYTHING is sacred, though. Is there a title that is brought up in a Hollywood board room for a potential reboot, that would have a studio head say, "Oh no, we can't screw with that. It's a classic." Do you think anything is hands off?
KRISTY: Well, not when it comes to producers, no. I'm not saying I don't think there are some films that no one should endeavor to remake or reboot, but I think Hollywood was built on re-creation. I mean, even in its earliest days the same stories were recast, repacked and promoted once more. I think why this reboot is bugging people is because so many '80s reboots of late have been bungled. And it seems like an insult to the original we loved, and to those of us who love it.
SEAN: Right. I think what bothers me the most is that movies that we loved from that time period, be it the '70s or '80s, made an impact on us BECAUSE they were original, or they have a fresh take and a unique voice. I'm not saying Dirty Dancing or The Karate Kid were wildly original movies. Hell, Karate Kid was Rocky, with a different fighting style! But they did their own thing, and people responded to them.
I think I've come to realize that the one group of films from that time period that are COMPLETELY off limits would be the films of John Hughes. I mean, I can't imagine anyone being OK with a Breakfast Club reboot. I think I'd burn Hollywood to the ground. And yet, The Perk of Being a Wallflower is free to borrow Hughes' honest approach to the teenage years ... and because it doesn't ape the name and characters, and does it's own thing, it succeeds as its own right. That's what I'd rather see ... an original movie that REMINDS us of Gremlins, instead of a straight-up Gremlins reboot!
KRISTY: Because we're not talking about character types or Ferris Bueller-styled rebels. We're talking about the Gremlins. They are iconic, and their image on posters is sure to attract attention far easier/faster than some sort of inspired-by beastie. It's really just rebooting a brand of monster, like Dracula, or the Wolf Man. And I have no problem with that. This could even cause a relaunching of the creature feature trend, which I'd love to see happen.
SEAN: Now THAT's interesting!
KRISTY: Of course, I'd hope filmmakers would favor practical effects over CGI creatures, but that's admittedly a personal bias born from watching countless 80s movies.
SEAN: Wait, I like the angle you just took to this. Putting Gizmo and Spike on the same level as Dracula and Frankenstein is an approach that helps me accept the reboot. I'm OK with telling a story that uses the characters again, Does this mean that we have to do the origin again, though? Tell me, what do you think we need to have in a Gremlins reboot to satisfy the die-hard fan base?
KRISTY: How much of an origin do you need? Establish the three rules in act one. Act Two a kid breaks them and mayhem is unleashed. Though I wouldn't complain if there was a callback to the Gremlins theme song. That still gives me goosebumps. It's not like the gremlins have a convoluted superhero-like backstory to unfurl. They are mysterious little monsters whose malice is unleashed when a kid breaks rules. It's a pretty solid device that I think merits revisiting.
SEAN: But do you know what I'd prefer? And we're thinking outside the box, which Hollywood won't do. But the rules had to come from somewhere. Trial by error, right? Tell a story that explains where the Gremlins came from. End with Gizmo landing in that unique Chinatown store. Make it a Gremlins Begins movie, with other people learning about what goes wrong when you feed and water your pets!
KRISTY: I don't know. As much as I like Prometheus, I think that strategy is dangerous. I tend to prefer my monsters mysterious. It makes the fear less manageable.
SEAN: Well, it's happening, whether we like it or not. Last point. You mention practical effects. I'd bet the farm that if they are bringing the Gremlins back, they'll be CGI. What are your thoughts on that?
KRISTY: Frankly, that would disappoint me. I much prefer when effects look tangible, and besides it's still a workable direction to go. They used some puppets in Attack the Block, and I heard Mama makes use of puppetry too. Plus, if you're going to have any tips to the original, I'd say use of puppetry is a must. Though I grudgingly admit you'll probably be right on that count.
SEAN: Unless it's Guillermo Del Toro's Gremlins ... but I think that's too much to ask for.
KRISTY: Oh man! That would be amazing!
SEAN: Agreed. Let's hold out hope.
Do We Need A Gremlins Reboot?