Back in the Eighties, the perfect leading man wasn’t your typical handsome actor. Hell no! In those days, they would usually be good looking, but in a more attainable regular JoBlo sort of way. This was especially true when it came to the Steven Spielberg produced, Joe Dante directed 1984 classic GREMLINS and the film’s star Zach Galligan. He was awkward but charming, vulnerable but brave. He was the kind of actor with all the qualities which made for a perfect cinematic hero. Never pretentious and nice enough to befriend Gizmo as well as his leading lady Phoebe Cates, Zach was as gosh darn likable as you could possible get.
It was in GREMLINS that Galligan seemed to be headed for stardom. With a box office hit, and his understated charisma, it still surprises me that the actor didn’t reach the heights of fame some of his counterparts did. Not that he stopped working. That wasn’t the case at all. After GREMLINS he found work in television as well as a feature film or two including NOTHING LASTS FOREVER in 1984 and MORTAL PASSIONS in 1989. Most of the film or television he appeared in was just filling his days before he would return to another horror comedy adventure… one that I hold near and dear to my heart.
In 1988, Zach took on a spooky wax museum along with the lovely Deborah Foreman, Michelle Johnson and LOTR’s Gimli, John-Ryes Davies in the cult classic WAXWORK directed by Anthony Hickox. This wild and wacky scary send-up featured some crazily inventive horror set pieces inspired by THE WOLFMAN, DRACULA, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and so much more. In fact, this entertaining little flick has become somewhat of a cult classic and that is certainly helped by the insane adorableness of the film’s two leads, Galligan and Foreman who shared a winning on-screen dynamic. If you’ve never seen WAXWORK, you must check it out. It really was ahead of its time.
Not straying all together far from horror – specifically comedy horror – Zach once again returned to both of these titles with GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH in 1990 as well as WAXWORK 2: LOST IN TIME in 1992 (which also featured the legendary Bruce Campbell). Neither of these sequels lived up to the original films, yet it was a pleasure seeing Zach return to these characters that brought him some genre fame. The biggest misstep for the sequel to WAXWORK was not bringing back Deborah Foreman. Well, that and the script just didn’t quite work the second time around either, but I just loved those two kids together in the first flick.
After GREMLINS and WAXWORK and their sequels, Zach remained working throughout the years. This included a number of guest starring roles on television programs including “7th Heaven”, “Star Trek: Voyager”, “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” among others, yet the soft-spoken actor clearly enjoys the spooky stuff. In 1993 he appeared in the Julian Sands supernatural cheapie WARLOCK: THE ARMAGEDDON which was also directed by Hickox. Next up he appeared opposite another genre favorite in the 1997 flick CUPID with HELLRAISER’s Ashley Laurence. While this romantic thriller didn’t necessarily re-ignite his career, he did have some fun playing a nutcase and he did a pretty damn good job at it as well.
Galligan did a number of other low budget shockers including INFESTED in 2002, LEGION OF THE DEAD in 2005 as well as the experimental horror flick CUT (advertised as being shot in one take) not too long ago in 2010. While the budgets seemed to be smaller and the film’s just a bit sillier, the actor seemingly takes a whole lot of pride in his horror roots. Sadly however, many of these films rank a dismal 3.0 or less over at IMDB and from the looks of some of the trailers, they don’t seem to generate too much in the thrills and chills department.
Lucky for us fans, we can look forward to seeing Zach in the upcoming horror sequel (this dude loves doing sequels) HATCHET 3 opening June 14th at hopefully a theatre near you. Now if you’ve seen the trailer this looks like another bloody good time. And you’ll also notice it stars another cool genre dude… the awesomely great Derek Mears, as well as the stunning Danielle Harris. As a fan of Mr. Galligan, I’m happy to see him return to a flick more worthy of his talents. Seriously, what’s not to like about this guy? With his upcoming return to sort of mainstream horror, hopefully we’ll be seeing more of the actor.
Lucky for us, it wouldn’t be all that shocking to find him at one of the many horror conventions across the country. It’s always refreshing to see one of these classic guys still proudly supporting their early work. And if you’d like to hear more of what the man has been up to, you can follow him on his Twitter page or check out one of the many “fan pages” people have created for him on Facebook. It's great to have you back on the big screen Mr. Galligan! We look forward to your faceoff with Victor Crowley… which literally could mean face… OFF!