Grem­lin Growth

Never feed Bon­nie Bur­ton after mid­night...

SFX - - Opinion -

When you own a pet you want to spoil them. But some pets need to be kept in their place. Ig­nore a few sim­ple rules and your cud­dly bud­dies shed their fur and be­come scaly sin­is­ter min­ions of may­hem.

There’s a new 30th an­niver­sary Blu- ray edi­tion of Grem­lins out. I’ve been able to re­live ev­ery ex­cit­ing scene – from the mo­ment Gizmo is bought at a mys­te­ri­ous an­tique store in Chi­na­town to when he gets that first glass of wa­ter ac­ci­den­tally spilled on him to the hor­ri­ble af­ter­math – and I couldn’t be hap­pier. When I first saw Grem­lins in the cin­ema I was 12 years- old and after ET, I ex­pected pro­ducer Steven Spiel­berg to put out another kids’ movie. I was wrong ( turns out it’s hor­ror with heavy- drink­ing reptilian trou­ble­mak­ers who try to blow up a town) but of course, I was hooked.

That’s what was great about the ’ 80s. A kid could watch a movie that seemed ini­tially harm­less – Ghost­busters, Tem­ple Of Doom or even The Dark Crys­tal – and walk away with night­mar­ish scenes – that skin­less taxi driver, Mola Ram’s evil an­tics, and the life- drain­ing Skek­sis birds – stuck in their tiny skulls for­ever.

Grem­lins is part of that rich ta­pes­try of ter­ror that I now carry around as a grown- up fan of hor­ror films. That head- canon is the rea­son I like to be scared at the movies, to re­lease all that pentup real- life stress. It’s like rid­ing a roller­coaster with­out wor­ry­ing about end­ing up with a her­ni­ated disc. It’s an adren­a­line rush with pop­corn.

Nowa­days, kids are too shel­tered. If Grem­lins were to be re­leased to­day, it might be slapped with an R rat­ing in the United States be­cause of silly lit­tle things like the grem­lins get­ting drunk in a bar and, oh, try­ing to kill all the towns­folk. Spiel­berg him­self sug­gested to the MPAA that all fu­ture movies like Grem­lins get a PG- 13 rat­ing to keep younger view­ers pure. But the orig­i­nal script, penned by Harry Pot­ter di­rec­tor Chris Colum­bus, was meant to be even darker: Billy’s dog would have been de­voured, and his mom de­cap­i­tated. Imag­ine that im­age stuck in your ju­ve­nile psy­che.

The bar scene was bad enough for me. Dorry’s Tav­ern, over­run with grem­lins drink­ing, brawl­ing, gambling, danc­ing and even flash­ing each other, taught me that all bars were this rowdy. It was only when I vis­ited a hostelry as an adult that I re­alised ( most) pa­trons don’t bash pint glasses on each other’s heads and dance on the bar.

But you know what? I didn’t only take the nega­tives on board. Grem­lins’ heart was, some­where in there, pure. Billy ( Zach Gal­li­gan) is re­lat­able, com­ing from a mid­dle class fam­ily

I’d love to see those crazy crit­ters back on the big screen

who are find­ing it hard to make ends meet. Love in­ter­est Kate ( Phoebe Cates) has her own trou­bles, in­clud­ing a dad who – in an equally disturbing and hi­lar­i­ous story – ac­ci­den­tally died while play­ing Santa. They’re just try­ing to make their way in a small town oc­cu­pied by a bunch of small minds. The grem­lins help them re­alise their af­fec­tion for each other. And be­cause the movie takes place dur­ing Christ­mas, it’s some­how less hor­ror and more hol­i­day clas­sic. Grem­lins hide in the Christ­mas tree and use it to at­tack Billy’s mother. The lit­tle monsters even join in the hol­i­day spirit by carolling. Well, screech­ing. But at least they tried. And grem­lins us­ing a snow plough to kill hu­mans is fes­tive, right? Right. It’s heart­warm­ing.

While the se­quel never lived up to the orig­i­nal, there’s al­ready talk of a Grem­lins re­make from Warner Bros. A lack of an­i­ma­tron­ics would prob­a­bly re­move some of the charm, but to be hon­est, I’d love to see those crazy crit­ters back on the big screen again. I can only imag­ine what kind of trou­ble they could get into with to­day’s tech­nol­ogy. And let’s make it Christ­mas again. But re­mem­ber: a grem­lin is for life… Bon­nie still vis­its ev­ery mys­te­ri­ous an­tique store she can find. No mog­wai yet.

O ur colum­nist Bon­nie Bur­ton, a San Fran­cis­cobased au­thor, has writ­ten a num­ber of books in­clud­ing her lat­est – The Star Wars Craft Book. B onnie ap­pears on the mas­sive “Geek & Sundry” and “Stan Lee’s World Of He­roes” YouTube chan­nels. M ore of her writ­ing can be found at www. grrl. com.

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