Inevitable Remakes: “Gremlins”
Inevitable Remakes is a new series of articles here on the blog that pose the question: what if a classic or popular movie was first released in today’s film world? What would it look like? Would the story be any different? Would it be any good? The answers to all of these questions and more await inside…
Gremlins is a 1984 film directed by Joe Dante, written by Chris Columbus and stars Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates and a cute little Mogwai named Gizmo. The film was produced by Steven Spielberg, and part of Amblin Entertainment – the studio most well known for E.T., Back to the Future and Jurassic Park – just to name a few. On a budget of just $11 million, Gremlins managed to rake in approximately $153 million by the end of its run in theaters. The film is well-remembered for its super-cute and lovable protagonist, wonderful practical effects, a haunting, yet light-hearted score, and surprisingly violent scenes. From a Flickchart perspective, Gremlins currently ranks as the #500 best film of all-time. So, if this movie were to be made today, what would it look like?
Could It Be Made?
The first question worth asking: could an exact replica of the original movie be made today? Gremlins was full of practical effects – a practice almost non-existent in the majority of today’s films. It had several references to smoking – which is also rarely seen today, but it’s just a societal practice that dates the original film more than being any essential component. First and foremost, Gremlins was an amalgamation of a horror film and a family Christmas film. Modern blockbusters these days are very focused, and it’s doubtful that the original pitch would be able to make its way to theaters intact today.
Now that we’ve determined that Gremlins likely could not be made in its original form, let’s see what would have to change…
Computer generated effects are now the preferred method of creating fantastic elements on the screen, which is why the bulk of Gremlins would sadly likely be replaced with CGI. The movie would be cheaper to make, but it would arguably detract from the realism the original movie evoked. What’s more likely is that we might see a more action-oriented film in which the gremlins are flipping over roof tops and karate chopping innocent bystanders. The transformation sequences from cute and cuddly to ugly and stinky would be seen by the audience, instead of off-camera. Gizmo would be re-mastered in high definition, giving him more mobility and facial expression. Because of this, the movie would likely be more Gizmo-centric – giving considerably less screen time to the human cast.
Randall Peltzer would still be an inventor, but more than likely he’d be creating digital products. Maybe he’s one of those As-Seen-On-TV personalities. Billy Peltzer works at a fast food restaurant with his heart throb, Kate. Randall still purchases Gizmo for his son at an establishment in Chinatown, but the establishment is less traditional. More time is spent with Gizmo before he is exposed to water, with a couple of humorous scenes between him and the family dog in which they are running around the house. Billy is still an artist, but he creates art on his tablet device, so instead of spilling his water on Gizmo at the art table, he accidentally drops his perfectly placed product-placement Dasani bottle. Billy sends a Facebook message to his friend, Pete Fountaine, telling him what has happened. The new gremlins still transform by eating past midnight, but they might wreak an action-packed havoc on the town with a rock or techno score in the background. Most of the rest of the film would just be scenes of random acts of vandalism caused by the gremlins, but with no mention of cross dressing, smoking, or using a gun. Billy and Kate tweet at each other, and meet at the local cineplex in town. It’s Gizmo’s time to shine as he uses his ingenuity and wits to outsmart the gremlins by causing an explosion that destroys the theater.
Gremlins was the film, along with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, that brought up the conversation about a new rating in between PG and R. Thus, the PG-13 rating was born. Gremlins was rated PG on release. Watching the film, it is understandable why discussions of another ratings system happened. There are some very violent scenes in Gremlins, and several references to more adult subject matter. The Gremlins of today would either have a strict PG-13 rating, or would be toned down to accommodate a PG rating with most of the really violent and adult elements removed from the film.
Would Today’s Gremlins Be A Good Movie?
Anything is possible, but this hypothetical new version would be bogged down with action, CG effects, and probably a shorter run time for the more modern attention span. This means little-to-no character development, no connection with the characters, and little substance to make a meaningful plot. Being a summer blockbuster, it would still make a profit powered off nostalgia alone.
What would your ideal Gremlins be if you were forced to remake it today? What would be the essential elements to make a great Gremlins film? Let us know in the comments!