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Gremlins (1984) and Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)

HOLLYWOOD MOVIE EXECUTIVE ONE

Check it out, we have a script by hot up-and-comer Christopher Columbus, about adorable little critters who turn into monsters! And it’s loaded with small-town schmaltz. Speilberg will produce! Phoebe Cates will star!

HOLLYWOOD MOVIE EXECUTIVE TWO

Can we make the adorable critter so cute that every kid in America will want a doll based on it?

EXEC ONE

Yes. Yes, we can. High five!

EXEC TWO

Nice. Now we just need a hungry, hip young director-for-hire who can make this thing sing.

EXEC ONE

It just so happens I had lunch with this struggling Roger Corman protégé, Joe Dante. He’s been around a while but his biggest credit to date is a couple of episodes of Police Squad. The kids seem to like that show.

EXEC TWO

The kids, you say?

gremlins1.jpg Dante directs an entertaining but surpisingly nasty kiddie-horror movie. It’s violent and has some flashes of pretty black humour, but the good guys win and Gizmo is so damn cute that everybody forgets about that. It makes an ungodly amount of money. Every kid in America wants a Gizmo doll.

Six years later…

EXEC ONE

Joe Dante, its six years later, you’re a genius and you made us all rich. Let’s make a sequel and all get richer!

JOE DANTE

Sure, but if you really want this to work, I’m going to need five times the original budget. Oh, and I get to do absolutely anything I want.

EXEC ONE

Deal!

EXEC TWO

Now, let’s sell some more dolls! High five!

JOE DANTE

evil, evil laugh

EXEC ONE

Uh-oh.

EXEC TWO

What? What’s happening? Why is he laughing like that?

gremlins2.jpg Dante assembles a nearly-plotless collection of black comedy sketches, sick jokes and cartoon violence, dripping with acid contempt for the materialistic aspirations and sterile aesthetics of the 1980s, and the original film. There are multiple scenes of Gizmo being tortured. Phoebe Cates tells a story about being flashed by an Abraham Lincoln impersonator. Dante uses the budget to cram in references to every one of his favourite old horror films, gets Rick Baker to do the special effects, and casts Christopher Lee, Tony Randall and Hulk Hogan. It’s brilliant and indulgent and loses great globs of money.

JOE DANTE

Man, that was a blast! Who’s up for Gremlins 3?

EXEC TWO

cries

EXEC ONE

Fuck you, Joe Dante.

2 Comments

  1. Incidentally, it’s a combination of seeing the Mogwai concert a couple of weeks ago and reading this article at The AV Club that inspired me to watch these. I haven’t seen Gremlins since the 1980s, and I’d never seen Gremlins 2. Needless to say, I’m glad I did — I’m a sucker for weird-ass anarchic comedy.

    Thursday, September 25, 2008 at 10:13 pm | Permalink
  2. I saw the avclub review and found the idea a bit curious and weird. It definitely sounded like your kind of thing, but I may not get to it for a while yet.

    DAvid

    Friday, October 3, 2008 at 6:16 pm | Permalink