It’s rare that a sequel lives up to its predecessor, but it’s even more unusual when it does so by abandoning the pretense and branching off in a completely new direction. GREMLINS 2 is such a wonderfully weird movie that doesn’t just buck the tone of the first movie, it does a complete and hilarious 180. This is definitely not director Joe Dante resting on his laurels. It’s the definition of a kitchen sink film; a biting satire on corporate America, greed and consumerism, the television and entertainment industry, science and genetic engineering and everything in between. By the time the title creatures are singing and dancing the conga in the big musical number, you realize at its core, GREMLINS 2 is essentially a live action Looney Tunes cartoon. (The extended animated intro with Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck should’ve also been a hint.) All in all, its pure, wonderful chaos.
The setup is essentially similar to the original film in the first act, but when the gremlins get into the genetic lab, all hell breaks loose and the fun really starts. The result is all manner of unique gremlins this time out; there’s a vegetable gremlin, an electric gremlin, a spider gremlin, a bat gremlin, a loquacious genius gremlin and even an [ahem] amorous female gremlin. Rick Baker’s creature design and puppetry here is phenomenal, much more diverse, creative and alive—which leads to them having much more personality. (Bet you never thought you’d see a gremlin wax poetic about activist Susan Sontag and the fall of civilization.) And of course there’s Gizmo, who’s adorable as ever, especially when he turns in to mini-Rambo. While I love all the new gremlins introduced, I wish that didn’t mean less screentime for everyone’s favorite Mogqai.
Aside from playing with different genres and movie tropes, GREMLINS 2 should also be beloved by movie lovers simply for how much it also loves movies. There’s plenty of meta-subtext throughout, from Leonard Maltin commenting on how bad the original GREMLINS was to vampire movie host Grandpa Fred and his love for classic cinema. And my favorite—Hulk Hogan himself threatening the gremlins when they interrupt the movie-going experience.
The Making of GREMLINS 2: This is a really tongue in cheek “making of” that pokes fun at the movie itself, including a foul-mouthed Gizmo. It’s a bit corny, but at least it’s not your usual BTS feature.
Outtakes: This is actually 20 minutes worth of deleted scenes with optional commentary by Dante. There’s some gems here including more with the great Christopher Lee and an extended Looney Tunes intro.
Gag Reel: There’s plenty to go wrong in a movie like this and this 6 minute gag reel captures it all. There’s a poor monkey too scared of the gremlin puppets to actually act, plus plenty of effects and props gone wrong.
Alternate Home Video Sequence: For the sequence where the film breaks, Dante created a more appropriate version for the home video audience where the Gremlins change the channel to watch a little John Wayne.
A Theatrical Trailer is also included.
Extra Tidbit: The scene where the mother scolds the theater manager regarding the movie being inappropriate for children really happened to Joe Dante during a screening of the original GREMLINS.