Is the mad scientist behind the camera or in front of it in this, the next film to be recommended by DK Canada’s highly enjoyable Monsters in the Movies book? Joe Dante, the film’s director has always seemed wonderfully mad, his love of Looney Tune cartoons, and wacky humor always makes his films enjoyable from The Howling to Innerspace and beyond, and both Gremlins films are a lot of fun. So I was delighted to settle in for this one again.
The mad scientist is in fact portrayed by Christopher Lee in this film, though he is only a supporting character, Doctor Catheter. The film of course centers on Billy (Zach Galligan) and Kate (Phoebe Cates), and their reintroduction to the world of mogwai and gremlins.
They young couple have moved off to New York where both of them have found work in Clamp Tower (yes, the main character played by John Glover is a parody of Trump, but much more likeable), and when Gizmo ends up back in his life, well the rules that govern the little mogwai are just bound to be broken (again).
The film features a number of Dante’s regulars including Robert Picardo, as Clamp’s right hand man, Forster, and Dick Miller returning as Mr. Futterman. It’s also delightful to see how the special effects (though some are done as nods to those that have gone before like the work of Harryhausen) and puppetry for the little creatures in five short years.
Filled with sight gags, sheer cartoon violence and storytelling, Gremlins 2 is a romp through Trump, sorry Clamp Tower, where nothing seems to work properly. Trapped inside the building, which is filled with odd shops including a genetic shop known as Slice of Life, television studios, food courts and more, Gizmo, Billy, Kate and their friends have to survive the night and stop the gremlins before their mischievous violence turns even more deadly.
Featuring a big dance number, a talking gremlin, Brain, voiced by Tony Randall, the film itself isn’t much in the way of cinema, but it’s damned enjoyable – filled with goofy set pieces, the Canadian restaurant is totally brilliant, and that’s how the film works, like a live-action cartoon (sound effects included), eschewing logic and story for gags, laughs, and lots of silly moments, including a breaking of the fourth wall.
And that’s what makes this a solid sequel, the original built the world, this one just plays in it, and is more than ready to poke fun at itself.
In the end, Gremlins 2: The New Batch is a fun, if dated film, that plays like a long form Looney Tunes short. It’s fun, but forgettable, but the laughs as they happen are pretty damned enjoyable.
Check it out, or pick up a copy of DK Books’ Monsters in the Movies and find something enjoyable macabre to watch tonight!