The difference in art style between new Gremlins Secrets of the Mogwai and the original Gremlins.

Making the ‘Gremlins’ Cute Wasn’t Something I Saw Coming

So, when I was a kid, and Gremlins was an original standalone IP, it scared the living shit out of me. Gremlins was gross and unsettling, in a way that kept kids like me interested enough to at least give it a shot, and my parents laughing at how utterly absurd the humor was. There was nothing sterile about Gremlins; it was foul, deliciously foul. Even the “cutest” things about it, the Mogwais, were still sort of alien and strange by virtue of their animatronic quirks.

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All of these things helped make Gremlins the kind of ’80s film we love to be nostalgic about. Gremlins was just that bitch. You wouldn’t take Divine and give her an E-Girl aesthetic, right? Right?

…right, Steven Spielberg? Spielberg, wait, what are you doing with that cel-shaded animation style, what are you—

Don’t get me wrong, Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai looks really cute! It’s just … so not what I’d associate with the original series! The original Gremlins movies were full of gore, guts, and grossness. This is so sweet, you could plausibly convince me that it was a Dreamworks Original if I’d never heard of the original movie.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m not decrying this reboot in its entirety—I love that Tze Chun, a Chinese-American director, is taking the helm of this project, and he’s filling it up with a fantastic Asian cast. Considering the original film’s orientalist background, I’m fully on board with the plot direction they’re taking with this series. They’re expanding on the Chinese origins of the plot without overtly commodifying them; if anything, Secrets of the Mogwai is giving me Kung Fu Panda vibes, but if Kung Fu Panda was actually created with more Asian people on staff.

Therein lies my main “wtf”: There isn’t much else that a movie like Kung Fu Panda and a movie like Gremlins have in common. I’m just kind of shocked to see that they’re woobifying the franchise that had this childhood-traumatizing scene in it:

By all means, animate the Gremlins! Give those lil guys some artistic flair! I just would figure that a different, crustier, NOT-so-cute style might work better, considering how utterly disgusting scenes like this are.

But hey, a lot of people seem excited for this show, and I’m just happy to see Bowen Yang in anything, so we’ll just have to wait and see! What do you think of this Gremlins reboot? Are there any other ’80s films you’d like to see animated, or do you think we should let sleeping dogs lie? Let us know in the comments!

(featured Image: Max/Warner Bros.)

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Madeline Carpou
Madeline (she/her) is a staff writer with a focus on AANHPI and mixed-race representation. She enjoys covering a wide variety of topics, but her primary beats are music and gaming. Her journey into digital media began in college, primarily regarding audio: in 2018, she started producing her own music, which helped her secure a radio show and co-produce a local history podcast through 2019 and 2020. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz summa cum laude, her focus shifted to digital writing, where she's happy to say her History degree has certainly come in handy! When she's not working, she enjoys taking long walks, playing the guitar, and writing her own little stories (which may or may not ever see the light of day).