A few months back, I was a guest on the Nerd Lunch Podcast to talk about comebacks (listen to that show here). As part of the show, each of us named an old 80s property we’d like to see make a comeback and that’s when my wheels started spinning about one of my favorite monster flicks… Gremlins. After two movies in 1984 and 1990, I believe the time is right to introduce a sequel…
I want to put Gremlins 3: (Subtitle to be named later) on a college campus. Why college? Well, not many horror flicks take place on colleges and the width and variety of functions on campus, between departments and parties and dorms and facilities, make for a ton of room for the Gremlins to play. It also brings back the feel of small town Kingston Falls by introducing a community that is somewhat isolated from the rest of society.
Gremlins told the story of a teenager, Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan), who worked as a bank teller in storybook small town Kingston Falls, New York and whose struggling inventor father Randall (Hoyt Axton) buys him a gift from Chinatown that turns out to be a cuddly creature that mutates if specific instructions aren’t followed to the letter. Gizmo the Mogwai arrived with three simple rules that the Peltzer family expectedly goes on to violate, leading to the emergence of monstrous murderous miniature mischiefs who wreak havoc upon Kingston Falls and enjoy the most hilarious screening of Snow White ever made. 1984’s Gremlins was a hit for Warner Brothers and spawned a 1990 sequel: the much-maligned but actually not-so-bad New York City-based Gremlins 2: The New Batch, as well as a string of other cinematic monster infestation knock-offs (see Ghoulies, Critters, Troll, Munchies, etc.). The Gremlins movies starred Galligan, Axton, Phoebe Cates, Corey Feldman, Judge Reinhold, Keye Luke as “Mr. Wing”, John Glover as Donald-Trump-inspired mogul “Daniel Clamp”, Robert Picardo, and Christopher Lee. They also featured the voice talents of Howie Mandel (as Gizmo), Tony Randall (as Brain Gremlin), Michael Winslow, Peter Cullen, Bob Holt, and the legendary Frank Welker (as Stripe, Mohawk & several other Gremlins).
Gremlins was a smash success, opening on June 8, 1984 as second at the box-office behind Ghostbusters, which also opened that day. It was the fourth highest grossing film of 1984. Its sequel The New Batch did not do as well at the box office, opening on June 15, 1990, the same day as Dick Tracy, but not even cracking the top 30 grossing films of that year. The Gremlins franchise “spawned” a slew of toys, memorabilia, video games and even a breakfast cereal. Gizmo and Stripe became 80s icons and catchphrases like “BRIGHT LIGHT!” and “BE GOOD!” were thrown around often.
Since 1990, all was quiet on the Kingston Falls/Clamp Corners front until just recently, when rumors of a possible Gremlins reboot started flying around. Well, the timing couldn’t be better for my idea about Gremlins, which I would want to see done right.
Gremlins 2 ended with Billy and Mr. Futterman destroying the horde of Gremlins assembled in the lobby of Clamp Enterprises before they could unleash havoc on the streets of Manhattan. Daniel Clamp proceeded to give everyone promotions and decides to hire Billy as chief architect to help him design Clamp Corners, a small town inspired by Billy’s photo of his hometown Kingston Falls. The only surviving Gremlin, a chemically transformed female, approaches Forster wearing a wedding dress and the two decide to get married, which ended the movie Porky Pig style.
Gremlins 3 will take place 25 years later. In the time that passes, a number of events occur. Billy and Kate marry and after six years have their only child, a daughter. Billy designs Clamp Corners, which opens to much press and fanfare but is eventually considered a flop due to the public’s lack of interest in actually living in Small Town, U.S.A. Coupled with numerous lawsuits and investigations into the company after the mayhem of The New Batch, shares of Clamp Enterprises plummet and the company is forced into bankruptcy. Clamp becomes a recluse, never seen or heard from again. After living a long life for a Mogwai, Gizmo died in 2004. Meanwhile, Kate has been diagnosed with and eventually succumbs to cancer. Billy and his daughter Randi-Lynn move back to Kingston Falls. Billy eventually takes a job as an architecture professor at nearby Kingston Falls College and he and his daughter live on campus. As the movie opens, Randi-Lynn Peltzer, who prefers to be called “Rain”, is about to start her freshman year at KFC (yes, ironic, I know).
Of course, we’d ask Zach Galligan back as Billy Peltzer. At age 50, Zach still has the youthful looks of Billy and will no doubt continue to be a matinee idol and sex symbol to housewives and Good & Terrible women everywhere. Hopefully he’s reading this at the same time you are!
For Randi-Lynn “Rain” Peltzer, my first thought was Pitch Perfect’s Anna Kendrick, however at 29 and after several turns as a college student, she might be too old for the role. So we’re going to go with AnnaSophia Robb, star of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Bridge to Terabithia and Race to Witch Mountain. Ms. Robb also played young Carrie Bradshaw on the Sex and the City prequel The Carrie Diaries.
Since this is taking place on a college campus, numerous stars can appear as faculty and staff. I’m thinking Aziz Ansari (economics), Craig Robinson (chemistry), James Marsden (biology, genetics), Mariska Hargitay (criminal justice), Mary Lynn Rajskub (computer science), Rachel True (psychology), Seth Rogen (botany, agriculture), Corey Feldman (film), Chris Jericho (PE, wrestling coach), and Diedrich Bader (head of campus security), to name a few. How much screen-time each prof gets, who survives and who dies among these names is up to the writers. Plus, if Warner Bros. opens up the pocketbooks, perhaps we can have even more cameos (Snoop Dogg, Sarah Silverman, anyone?).
For college students, that’s an easy open casting call or just raid the closets of any Disney or teen Nick series.
Of course, we’ll have Howie Mandel back as the voice of Gizmo… Wait… isn’t Gizmo dead? We’ll explain below.
Frank Welker as the voice of Stripe/Scorp
Zach Hoffman (the voice of Zartan on G.I. JOE) as the voice of Nemesis Gremlin
Cree Summer as the voice of Selina Gremlin
Will Friedle as the voice of Forster
The movie opens in midtown Manhattan. A shadowy, masked figure sneaks into an office building, making his way to the 30th floor. After evading the night watchmen, the masked man creeps into an office and uses a device against a wall to sense something. Finding his target, he drills a small hole in the wall and reaches in to grab a small box. Cut to the masked man leaving the building. He ducks into a side alley and opens up the box. Inside are a few vials and you can notice that one of the vial labels, worn and faded, reads “CLAMP ENTERPRISES BioGenetics Lab 6/14/1990”. As the figure closes the box and takes off, the camera pans to another mysterious figure wearing a hoodie who follows in pursuit of the masked man.
The opening credits will then span through photos. articles and flashback clips updating the audience on all that’s happened since Gremlins 2. The movie opens with Billy and Rain preparing for the first day of classes at KFC. Rain is rebellious of Billy, who gives her a hard time about not appreciating attending college for free. The first few scenes split between Rain adjusting to her new classes and Billy teaching his architecture classes, being harangued by the dean (Theresa Randle) and getting attracted to the new psych professor (Rachel True). We’re introduced to several parts of campus, from the bio and chem labs to the gym to the pool, track, farm, frat houses, dorms, etc.
About a week in, while Billy is out on a date with the psych professor, a package is delivered (FedEx perhaps?) to the Peltzer’s on-campus house addressed to Randi-Lynn. Curious, she opens the box and inside is Gizmo! Quickly shutting the box, she checks the sender’s address to find that there is no name and it just reads “New York, NY”. Freaked out, Rain calls Billy and tells him about Gizmo. He rushes home and they go over the rules once more, Rain noting that she remembers them from when she was 8 years old. After opening the box, they determine that this must be an errant copy of Gizmo that survived the Clamp debacle and never turned into a Gremlin. Deciding to keep him, they dub him Gizmo II and set him up to live with them.
Weeks pass and the rules are being followed to the letter. No bright lights, no water (Gizmo bathes using hand sanitizer), and no feeding after midnight (the time zone question is addressed in one scene). However, as Billy and Rain are out at class one day, the masked man appears outside the Peltzer house. Sneaking in and blinding Gizmo with a flash bomb, he proceeds to spray him with a Super Soaker (yes, you can see the logo) and then leaves. The Peltzers come home to find a batch of new Mogwai littered around the house. Gathering them all, they start to discuss how to handle this, meanwhile missing one striped Mogwai who somehow got out of the house and is heading towards the frat house.
Without getting into much more detail, this errant Mogwai makes his way around campus, gets high, obviously eats after midnight (cold pizza?), becomes a Gremlin, jumps into the pool at the aquatic center, multiplies, and thus KFC campus mayhem ensues! There are twists and reveals and even a couple of major deaths, but I’ll leave that up to you the reader to figure out (or, you can listen to my appearance on Nerd Lunch, where I go through the entire story). Suffice to say, this will not end with just 3 and I intend to expand this into even more Gremlins sequels.
As for the mystery men, who is the masked man? I think you can figure that out. But who is the hooded figure in pursuit? The name “Forster” gives a clue, but the identity of this individual changes everything.
Whew… all this Gremlins talk has me wanting to play the old Atari game now!
Tell me what you think of the pitch and/or how demented you think I am in the comments below.
Oh, and Zach, if you’re reading this? Sequel, not reboot!