Studios are as desperate as ever to stake a claim on your childhood.
We all had a favorite toy. In my household, G.I. Joes and Transformers ruled. The kid next door was fond of Masters of the Universe, Thundercats, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. His little sister would sometimes allow my Joes to ride her Care Bear cloud car, or My Little Pony into battle. These characters had as much of an impact on my current pop culture obsession as Indiana Jones and Star Wars. Often, it was a chicken or an egg situation. What came first? My love of the toy, or my love of the cartoon advertising the toy?
Some may argue that nostalgia has stunted our entertainment, but who the hell wants to live in the now? Studios recognize that there is big money to be made in soothing our angst. We want sequels and reboots and the panacea of yesteryear. Give me a teddy bear to hold onto, or a G.I. Joe to kung fu grip. I’m looking to kill the reality around me with the safe and familiar.
Hollywood has already claimed most of our favorite toys. In fact, several of my favorites are staring down the barrel of a reboot. G.I. Joe might have already failed twice before, but let’s give it another go. Paramount refuses to let the Transformers die, and is even looking to build on the Hasbro-verse with ROM: Space Knight.
Apparently, if the product is at all familiar, then you can bet that several screenwriters have already taken a pass at the concept. According to Variety, Paramount is jumping from Hasbro to Mattel to adapt Creepy Crawlers. Why not? They found a story to hang on Battleship, didn’t they?
Born at the start of the 1960s, Creepy Crawlers was Mattel’s answer to Kenner’s Easy-Bake Oven. Gender branding demanded that while girls were made of sugar and spice, boys were compiled from snips, snails, and puppy dog tails. Mattel replaced cupcakes with spiders. The Creepy Crawlers’ “Thingmaker” oven cooked the bugs and reptiles from gelatin that formed inside a plastic mold.
Creepy Crawlers survived under Mattel throughout the 60s but was resurrected by Toy Max in the 1990s. This was the version I mucked about with in my youth. While the contraption had no chance of replacing my G.I. Joes obsession, Creepy Crawlers satisfied that demented chunk of my brain that would later be replaced by Fangoria magazine. Baking goopy mutants up in my room was as close as I ever got to Dr. Frankenstein.
This weirdo contraption changed hands for the second time in 2006 when JAKKS Pacific purchased the license. Under their guidance, Creepy Crawlers baked not only bugs but Star Wars clone troopers and various Pokemon. The snake was hungry for its tail.
How powerful is the brand recognition of Creepy Crawlers? Does it matter? Any hint of familiarity seems to be enough to get a green light. The film will be produced by Neal Moritz. He’s responsible for several revitalizations including 21 Jump Street, Total Recall, and Goosebumps. Not to mention that he also has ideas floating out there for more Highlander and Doc Savage.
The resulting monster mash of a Creepy Crawlers film is not hard to imagine. Simply drop a group of teenagers into a pit of beetles, maggots, spiders, and snakes, and you’ve got yourself a movie. Color me curious, but I won’t get excited until you add some talent behind the title. Wake me up when Fede Alvarez comes calling.