Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)
Director: Joe Dante
John Glover/Daniel Clamp
They’re back! Our favorite green party animals have taken over a “smart” building in New York City and doing what they do best: bringing the house down with enthusiastic mayhem! It’s once more up to squeaky clean Billy (Galligan), plump-lipped Kate (Cates) and a now Rambo-inspired Gizmo (voiced once again by Howie Mandel) to save the day!
"Ow! I was just kidding! Ah! It's a ten! It's a ten!"-- Leonard Maltin
(ing from the Gremlins for giving the original film a bad review)
I was somewhat disappointed when I first saw “Gremlins 2: The New Bach” upon its initial release on the big screen. The sequel didn’t really take the direction I wanted it to take and that slightly bummed me out. My specific expectations worked against my enjoyment of the film at the time.
The original "Gremlins" (a personal favorite of mine) sported an odd mix of horror and bleak comedy, but instead of keeping with that same “potent” jive, this sequel totally dropped the fear factor and embraced the humor with all of its green might. Shite, the film starts off with a Bugs Bunny cartoon for “Stripe’s” sakes and if that’s not a hint of who they were aiming for, I don't know what is. Having said that, I can’t deny how well written the script by Charlie Haas is and how very funny this playful sequel wound up being. I pretty much accepted the fact that "Gremlins 2" was a flat-out comedy on this repeat viewing and therefore dug it more. Any movie that has jaded critic Leonard Maltin receiving a pounding from a horde of peeved Gremlins (he gave the first film a bad review) is all good in my book.
The film also feels like a lengthy and witty inside joke told to all B-movie/films buffs of the world. It tosses movie references galore up our alley including "The Wizard of Oz", "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", "Phantom of the Opera", "Batman" and more. And when it’s not busy playing that game, it also deals us the social satire card. I tripped on rich-boy Donald Clamp (played to a T by Glover) standing in as an over-the-top Donald Trump like figure and I also relished the comment on technology this baby put out through quirky situations. Isn’t technology supposed to simplify our lives...NOT complicate it? The cherry on top was this follow-up’s kool knack of poking fun at its predecessor in clever ways. Kate’s somber “Christmas” speech from the original gets the laugh treatment here and so does the trivial “not feed after midnight” rule. FUN STUFF!
In the creature department, Gizmo is more animated than ever and gets mucho screen time. The little fur ball busts a move, lifts weight, wears a “Rambo” bandana, kicks that lizard ass and is just all-around cute as a button. And then there’s the Gremlins themselves who are still chaos-famished and always on the prowl for trouble. This circus is filled with inventive Gremlins gags, way more than in the first one, and I for one really grooved on them. These rodents go absolutely bonkers! Specific note: Although I didn’t particularly care for the female gremlin (Miss Piggy syndrome anyone?), or the spazzing gremlin (coke head syndrome anyone?), I did get with the Brain Gremlin (loved his speech), the electric Gremlin (all about his phone music session) and the badass spider Gremlin (slick design there!).
On the downer, "Gremlins 2" was at times a tad too “Muppet Show” for my taste. I also felt that the plot disappeared towards the last act to make way for an attack of Gremlins sight jokes (which is not necessarily all bad) and last but not least, I still missed the edginess of the original. But all in all, this sequel is flying high (did the screenwriter toke when he wrote it?) and that’s a big part of its appeal. Be it the creature effects (nice work, Rick Baker!), the crazy plot twists or the zany Gremlin shenanigans, "Gremlins 2" likes to push it all real far and wound up being pure fun in a bottle. Let the Mogwais out of their cages, feed them after midnight and let the fiesta begin! ARIBA!
Not much of this stuff but we do get a gremlin in a paper shredder and gremlins being turned to green slosh due to the sunlight effect.
Zach Galligan (Billy) is at his “good guy” best as the clean cut lead. It’s always great to see this dude in a film, he doesn’t do enough. Phoebe Cates (Kate) is not only drool-inspiring but she’s also a solid comedic actress. How’s her sense of humor? Well, she’s married to Kevin Kline in real life...how’s that for funny? John Glover (Daniel Clamp) doesn’t hold back and gives us a kool, campy show as well. I loved him! Robert Picardo (Forster) also has a hoot with the part and goes all out! Dick Miller (Mr. Futterman) is at his scene-stealing best here, always slick to see the dude at play. Christopher Lee (Dr. Catheter) plays his usual “heavy” type-cast for laughs and it works! Haviland Morris (Marla) is a delight as the pasty white but sexy chain smoking New Yorker. There’s something about her that spells HOT! (is she a Marla Maples parody? Maybe…)
T & A
The Gremlins are all fairly nude throughout and that female Gremlin has one fine slab of ass. NICE! He he he…
Dante gives himself lots of liberties, especially when it comes to the abundance of colors (science lab), the wild lighting and the stylish angles. Much like the film’s insane narrative, Dante visual approach is well…pretty out there.
An able score by Jerry Goldsmith and was that “Angel of Death” by Slayer I heard during the spider transformation scene? YEAH ! “DEVIL SIGN”!
IMAGE: The Widescreen 1.85:1/16x 9 images is mostly sharp and clean. We do get minor grain but it’s actually too seldom to complain about.
SOUND: The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound rocked the house! It served the background sound, sound effects, score and dialogue tracks perfectly. The awesome sound really helped make this film a more pleasurable experience. We also get a Dolby Surround 2.0 sound option.
Cast and Crew Commentary (feature length): Joe Dante, Mike Finnel, Zach Galligan and Charlie Haas give us a trivia-filled commentary (did you know the opening is stock footage from "Superman"?) We get lots of behind the scenes info on the production and how it came about. Everybody gets their two cents in but Dante and Finnel talk the most. Is it me or does Zach Galligan sound like a standup guy? He really sounds like a kool dude. Phoebe Kates is strangely absent from this commentary, but then again, I guess it’s for the best since she was mostly absent from the commentary on the first "Gremlins" disk as well and she was actually there! This commentary is a good listen and very interesting from a film buff point of view.
Additional Scenes (~ 22 minutes): Here we get a lot of deleted scenes that consist of scenes with actors and MUCHO Gremlin gags. You can watch the scenes with a Joe Dante/Mike Finnel commentary or not (I suggest you do, you get lots of slick info/trivia that way). We also get a peak at the Bugs Bunny cartoon that was supposed to open the picture but that was thankfully cut short for the flick.
Behind the screams (~ 6minutes): This feature starts off looking like a typical "making of", but winds up being a hilarious “staged” behind-the-scenes where the shoot is invaded by the now “prima-donna” Gremlins. All of the cast and crew play along and it makes for a very clever way to plug the movie. The scenes where Gizmo is being interviewed are priceless.
Gag Reel (~ 6minutes): This reel is all about actors flubbing their lines, animals not complying and funny screw ups on set. I had a blast but just wished it was longer.
EASTER EGG ALERT: Go to the “Special Features” screen, click on the right of the “theatrical trailer”. A gremlin claw will appear, hit “enter” and you’ll see the alternate version of the scene where the gremlins invade a movie theater (the John Wayne scene).
We also get a tacky game called The Gremlins Files (which I still don’t know how to play) and Theatrical Trailers.
Solid sound, image quality + extras up the ying-yang = DVD worth owning.
Where the first one was like a twisted Christmas tale on acid, this sequel is comparable to a “silly-willy” urban critter tale on chiba. It is slightly too childish at times (for my taste anyways) but Gremlins 2 still delivered with its high energy, its many winks to other films, its creative visual effects and its unapologetic desire to party at all cost. Bring on Gremlins 3! This series still has a lot of gas in its tank. NOTE: Leonard Maltin should play in horror movies more often, seeing him get whacked was almost cum-inducing. We love you Leonard!
Two different versions of this film exist: one for theatres, one for video.
In the theatrical version, the film begins to burn and Hulk Hogan steps out of the audience to yell at the Gremlins. Thankfully this DVD re-inserted that side-splitting sequence in (yippee!).
In the video version; the Hulk Hogan scene is replaced by a broken VCR machine thang and has John Wayne fighting the Gremlins in a gun fight. Although very funny in its own right...I preferred the Hogan version.
You can hear Porky Pig over the closing credits. Stay tuned till the credits finish, a “Loony Toones” surprise awaits.