Our Favourite Films: Gremlins 2: The New Batch

gremlins 2 indexWhen I first saw Gremlins 2 at the cinema I remember at around the twenty minutes point wondering if I’d made a huge mistake paying to see it, and considered dashing out and seeing something instead. Luckily for me I stuck with it and it quickly became one of my favourite ever movies, and that remains the case to this day, most of the time when I rewatch a much loved film I begin to tire of it but Gremlins 2 remains as enormously entertaining now as it was when it was originally released.

There’s a vague storyline before the chaos kicks off, involving Billy (Zach Galligan) and Kate (Phoebe Cates) who are now working in the Clamp Centre, which is part shopping mall, part research institute, and after the death of Gizmo’s owner Mr Wing he ends up being experimented on by Christopher Lee and his two identical twin assistants. In an incredibly contrived sequence Billy discovers Gizmo and rescues him, but unfortunately soon Gizmo is once again popping out offspring all over the place and as they have the odd snack after midnight they turn evil.

Once they are causing all kinds of chaos the movie is an absolute delight as we spend time with a number of quite unique gremlins, including the lovably smart Brain Gremlin and the genuinely quite terrifying Spider Gremlin, and the also genuinely quite terrifying Dentist Gremlin. Gizmo is as cute as ever and his transformation in to a Rambo type character is hilarious, while Billy and Kate have a lot of fun lines with the latter having yet another traumatic tale concerning a popular holiday which made me laugh hard.

Galligan and Cates helm the movie perfectly and keep the plot moving on at a fantastic pace while Jon Glover’s on great form as the surprisingly kind corporation head, Robert Picardo underplays it nicely as a villainous henchman, while Dick Miller and Jackie Joseph reprise their roles as the Futtermans and get to be suitably heroic. Christopher Lee’s also fantastic and there really isn’t anything even close to a dud performance in the movie, though as good as the humans are it’s the gremlins who provide most of the funniest moments.

The carefully curated anarchy feels cartoonish in all of the best possible ways, it’s a movie that happily breaks the fourth wall a couple of times, best of all when it features Hulk Hogan making a cameo as a member of the cinema going public but Leonard Maltin reviewing the first film is also a huge amount of fun. The satire of corporate America could have been a little more vicious but it’s amusing enough, and the way it ends on a musical number is a fantastic example of when throwing everything and the kitchen sink in to a movie really works beautifully.

The only real frustration is that apparently producer Steven Spielberg stopped it being even more demented as he persuaded director Joe Dante to cut some of the more unusual gremlins from the movie, and this is a very rare example of a film that I didn’t want to end as watching it was so much fun. Joe Dante orchestrates the madness incredibly impressively, the script from Charlie Haas also deserves a lot of the credit as to why it’s such a classic movie, and I really wish that both he and Dante were involved in the forthcoming tv series as they clearly know how to create inspired insanity using these characters.

★★★★1/2

Alex Finch.
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