While the magical, nightmarish gremlins from the eponymous film Gremlins and its sequel might live to spawn another day to wreak havoc on Kingston Falls and the rest of the world, don’t expect their creator Joe Dante to be any part of their continuing chaos. Talk of a reboot or a sequel to the 1984 and 1990 films has been tossed around for years like so much errant water on a mogwai. Now with names such as the original film’s director Richard Donner (Superman) and producer Chris Columbus (Goonies, Home Alone) attached to a possible new Gremlins film, everyone just assumed that Dante would return to rein in the chaotic world he helped create. Not so, he says. Instead, he ruminated with The Playlist about the trials and tribulations involved in getting film about the metamorphic imps out of the cocoon.
Dante indicates that one reason that fans of the franchise keep hearing word of a reboot or a sequel, only to have their hopes burned away like a gremlin in the sun, is that the characters and their world are jointly owned by both Warner Bros. and Steven Spielberg’s Amblin.
“[S]o you’ve got to jump through two hurdles to get your idea approved,” he explains. However, Dante almost baldy suggests that the main obstacle to creating a Gremlins sequel worthy of its predecessors is the lack of Dante himself.
“I’m not sure that the people making the movie now understand what the original appeal was of the first movie,” Dante explains. Further, referring to the 1990 sequel, Dante says that he was brought back to essentially save the film from devouring itself. “[T]hey hired me to come back and make the sequel. Because nobody understood it.”
While at first glance, Dante’s words may seem like the ruminations of a shop curator who feels that nobody else can watch over his possessions of Gizmos and Stripes like he can, he might just have a point. I was four when Gremlins hit theaters and, as much as it made me laugh, it scared the bejeezus out of me—in no small part due to my brothers egging it on, I imagine. But as much as I was frightened, I laughed, too. The film is filled with cartoonish ridiculousness, terror with real stakes, and dark, gallows humor. From the gremlin flasher in Kate’s bar to the combined motley crue of creatures sitting in awe as they watched Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Dante managed to pack in a lot into that original film.
Hell, as an adult, even Kate’s telling of her father’s failed attempt at surprising the kids as Santa made me chuckle, because it’s such a vivid piece of abject darkness wedged into a silly film about multiplying gremlins. No wonder Dante was brought back to film the first sequel.
However, even though a second Joe Dante-helmed Gremlins seems not to be in the cards (for now), keep an eye out for his new film Burying the Ex which, if the early buzz is to be believed, captures the same mischievous spirit of his Gremlins films.