Love “Gremlins”. My mother worked at the cinema at the time it was playing, so I likely sat through it half-a-dozen times or more before it finished it’s run. There’s just something so primitively perfect about Joe Dante’s . It’s scary, it’s fun, it’s well-performed (Phoebe Cates’ “Christmas” speech is gold!) and, well, it’s got Dick Miller in it.
I also love “Gremlins 2” (I recall I saw two films the day I saw it – “Days of Thunder” and then “Gremlins 2 : The New Batch”; to this day, I don’t know what the funnier film is!), it’s an amazing pre-“Scream” blend of laughs and lunging, but that first film – much like Jim Cameron’s original “Terminator” (still my favourite of those four films) – just really struck a chord. It was just the perfect summer movie experience; one of the true highlights of the ’80s (aside from Ronald Reagan referencing ‘Rambo’ in one of his speeches).
There’s been talk of a “Gremlins 3” ever since Rick Ducommun got “faced” by one of the film’s titular critters. And, I think it’s safe to say, the “Gremlins 3” we want – one that picks up after the events of the first two films, with the original time-consuming puppetry applied – will never happen. But if it did happen, Joe Dante says he couldn’t have it pick-up after the events of the first two films anyway, nor would he likely have Zach Gallighan and Phoebe Cates return, because most of today’s young cinemagoers haven’t seen the films, let alone know how ‘Billy’ and ‘Kate’ are. In short, he’d have to start again.
Not that Dante thinks he’ll get the opportunity to make another “Gremlins”.
“I’m constantly asked ‘why the hold up on Gremlins 3?'”, Dante said an interview earlier today with Moviehole, “And that’s because those films were such products of the technology at the time. The movie was more limited and created by technology. They were puppets. The storylines, then, were based around what we could do with the Gremlins. Now, of course, anything is possible but it becomes a little more difficult to hone it on what your storyline would be.”
“First of all, I won’t be asked. Second of all, I wouldn’t bring back the original cast because it’s been too long – the kids now would be familiar with the title, and familiar with Gizmo and Stripe, but as far as the actual [live-action] characters and story, they don’t know them.. it.”
Dante thinks “what will happen is Warner Bros will remake the film” but he doubts that inevitable redo will have the same effect as the beloved original.
You’ll be able to read about this more when I ran my piece on Dante for our “Caffeinated Clint” series, but the veteran filmmaker also touched upon the “Batman” film he was on “right after Gremlins”.
“After Gremlins came to me and started making money, [Warner Bros] came to make and asked ‘Would you like to do our Batman?’. So I signed on. It was a good project, I grew up with Batman – but the problem was, I didn’t really believe in Batman. I just couldn’t swallow the idea of the guy living up on a Hill, dressing up as a bat… Robin and all that. I actually preferred The Joker as a character to Batman. But anyway, I didn’t feel right about it so I went in and told them that I didn’t think I was the right guy for the movie. They, of course, said ‘You must be crazy!’, but I seriously believed, and still do, that I wasn’t the right choice for the movie. It wasn’t the movie that Tim Burton did, it was much more period. I don’t regret not taking it on.”