From ComingSoon.net ...
Carl Ellsworth Talks Scrapped Gremlins 3 Script!
Thirty-six years ago this month, Joe Dante's Gremlins invaded
theaters and instantly upped the ante for big-budget monster
mayhem. June 1990 saw the release of Gremlins 2: The New Batch,
in which Dante took the concept in a wackier, more
pop-culture-satirical direction. Over the three decades since,
fans have been waiting for a return of cuddly little Gizmo and
the hellacious creatures he inadvertently spawned, and while
the animated prequel series Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai is
coming from HBO Max, there was also another theatrical
follow-up in the works for several years in the 2010s.
A key writer involved was Carl Ellsworth, who wrote Wes
Craven's airborne thriller Red Eye and co-scripted The Last
House on the Left remake for Craven, as well as the hit
Disturbia. With his latest genre exercise, the Russell
Crowe-starring road-rage opus Unhinged, coming to theaters
July 10, Ellsworth recalls his time on the mini-monster sequel,
collaborating with the original film's scriptwriter Chris
Columbus. "The last time I touched it is now going on three
years ago," he says. "I was so excited to do it. I got the
chance to work with Chris, and I loved the story we came up
with. I'm so bummed that it hasn't seen the light of day yet.
What might have been, what could have been!"
What could have been, he explains, was a sequel that returned
to the horrific spirit of the '84 film. Columbus' initial
Gremlins spec draft was a serious scare story with R-level
mayhem, and even after it was toned down under producer Steven
Spielberg's supervision, the PG-rated result was graphic and
frightening enough to help encourage the creation of the PG-13
rating. The new movie, Ellsworth says, "was thought of as a
direct sequel mostly to the first film-not discounting the
second one by any stretch, but I saw it as very much a
passing-the-baton story, staying in the tone of the original.
I think that helped get me the job: I said, 'Yeah, there's a
lot of humor in the movie, helped by the classic Jerry
Goldsmith score that gives us a license to laugh, but it's
first and foremost a horror movie.'" (Indeed, occasional
screenings of an early cut of Gremlins during the last decade
have revealed the power of Goldsmith's music to soften some of
the blows. In particular, the Gremlins' Kentucky Harvester
attack on the Futtermans in this version, without Goldsmith's
jaunty scoring, plays as truly unnerving.)
"These little creatures-what they're really doing, they're
cold-blooded little murderers, you know?" Ellsworth continues.
"They're psychotic little creatures that are killing everybody.
So that's where it all started" when it came to writing the
third film. "I tried to preserve the humor, but at the same
time, I was starting with the foundation of this being a horror
movie, which I was really thrilled about."
He wasn't the only one anxious to be involved with a
continuation of the Gremlins' adventures. "I became friendly
along the way with Zach Galligan, the original Billy Peltzer,
and he was so eager to return to the role. He was excited,
I guess, by the idea that he and Gizmo should be the equivalent
of Han Solo and Chewie in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And he
wasn't too far off from where we were going." In addition to
bringing back Billy and Gizmo, Ellsworth adds, "There was,
I believe, a smaller role for Billy's girlfriend, played [in the
first two movies] by Phoebe Cates. But Gizmo was at the very
core of the story; it explored more of the mythology and the
history of the Gremlins."
Sadly, there hasn't been any news of forward motion on
Gremlins 3 in the last few years. "It's one of those situations
where it fell through the cracks, or they couldn't put it
together-who knows what happened?" Ellsworth says. "You know,
some things see the light of day and some things get shelved.
I have no idea what they're doing with it nowadays, but I hope,
as everybody does, that something happens, whether it's with my
script or somebody else's. I wish they could have done something
with it for the [first movie's] 35th anniversary last year."
In the meantime, as he awaits the release of Unhinged into
reopening theaters on July 1, Ellsworth has been "on-again,
off-again rewriting a thriller called Smart House for Lionsgate,
which Alex Aja (Horns, Crawl) was attached to. We've kind of been
going back and forth on it; it's got James Wan as a producer, and
he originated the story, which is about a smart house that goes
bad and awful things ensue. So I'm waiting to hear on whether
I'll be continuing with that one; it's been a process. And I'm
also looking for the next thing-and trying to dream up the next