Friday, January 22, 2010

Review - Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)

“Tonight, on the Clamp Cable Classic Movie Channel, don't miss Casablanca, now in full color with a happier ending.”

Director: Joe Dante
Starring: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, John Glover, Robert Prosky, Robert Picardo, Christopher Lee
Screenplay: Charles S Haas

The first Gremlins was a comedy that had some scary moments and put a black streak in Christmas movies. Honestly barring Die Hard the first Gremlins is my favourite Christmas movie. So you have this pretty scary comedy, you want to make a sequel, what do you do? Oh take away any scary elements, poke fun at your own disturbing moments from the first movie and go completely bat shit insane throwing Looney Tunes, Hulk Hogan, fourth wall breaking moments, genetic experimentation and Christopher ‘god damn’ Lee into the mix. Excuse me for a minute I think I love this movie.

From the beginning we get a taste of what the movie will become. Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny introduce us to the proceedings. Let me repeat that again for anyone playing the home game, two cartoon characters introduce us to a live action movie and then are seen no longer. Why? Well because as soon as the Gremlins start tearing the Clamp building apart this movie is a cartoon. But maybe I’m going a little fast. Too the plot I say.

Billy Peltzer (Zack Galligan) & Kate Beringer (Phoebe Cates) from the first movie have moved in together and are now living in New York. Kate as a tour guide of the Clamp Building and Billy as a site planner for Daniel Clamp, together they are happy together but not really fitting in to the city. Enter Mr Wing’s shop, Clamps expansion into Chinatown demolishes said building setting Gizmo the cute little Mogwai alone in the city. Needless to say Gizmo finds his way to the Clamp Building and Billy and Kate, things go wrong, Gremlins enter the picture, Gremlins get into the Clamp Buildings own science lab run by Christopher Lee and all hell breaks loose.

Acting wise Zack and Phoebe keep their characters the most realistic, though Phoebe does get a wonderful scene that pokes fun at her character and probably one of the most disturbing scenes of the first film. Really for me the highlights were Christopher Lee as Dr Catheter who channelled the inner hammer horror movie, his big monologue is classic or would have been if gremlins didn’t burn the movie at that point. Robert Prosky was also great as Grandpa Fred a host of a program that shows horror movies, seeing him run about dressed as Grampa Munster trying to be a real journalist and get the gremlin invasion on camera is a hoot. Finally the duo of Daniel Clamp (John Glover) and Forster (Robert Picardo) are awesome. Daniel Clamp is basically Donald Trump but played as a teenager, trust me he’s super excited about finally using his secret escape tunnel. Forster is his chief of security and is just a lesson in an awesome smarmy character that gets his what for. If this was the original then that would have meant his death, in this sequel it means something so much funnier.

This movie is just an exercise in going for broke. It destroys normal conventions, it makes fun of everything including itself, and as such some people are just going to watch this whirlwind of chaos and turn the movie off. When people get hit with so much it tends to get overwhelming. Still I think this is one of Joe Dante’s best movies, and I just love to absorb everything that comes my way. Funnily enough if you liked the first movie you may not like the second they are very very different. Still if you like chaotic comedy then I suggest you go for it.

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