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GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH (1990) ****

Gremlins 2: The New Batch is very nearly the equal to its predecessor. It gives you everything you could possibly want in a sequel: More of everything. More monsters. More carnage. And a bigger playground for them to create mayhem. Gremlins 2 wasn’t a hit, sadly and it’s a shame we never got a Part 3.

This time around instead of the Gremlins attacking a picturesque small town during Christmas, they invade a skyscraper in New York City. While the film’s target (Donald Trump and 80’s yuppie-ism) isn’t as timeless as the original, its satire is just as deft. And whereas the dad’s malfunctioning gadgets were funny in the first one, the sequel has a similar gimmick involving the state of the art office building full of mechanical problems.

Another gimmick that makes the movie a blast is that the Gremlins drink some genetic material and become mutated. One turns into a vegetable monster, another becomes super smart and speaks with Tony Randall’s voice, another grows bat wings, and the leader (Mohawk) turns into a spider. The special effects for the new creatures (created by the one and only Rick Baker) are totally awesome and some of the Gremlin gore (like the paper shredder scene) is top notch.

The first movie was a kindred spirit of a Warner Brothers cartoon. This one practically becomes a Warner Brothers cartoon near the end with all the comic asides, musical numbers, and movie spoofs (like the Phantom of the Opera bit). That’s not a criticism by the way; just an observation.

The cast is uniformly great. Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates have a thankless job as the leads but they’re still solid nevertheless. Also returning from the first film is Dick Miller, who gets even more screen time. Also in the cast is Robert Prosky as the Grandpa Al rip-off horror movie host, Christopher Lee as the gene splicing scientist Dr. Catheter, and Robert Picardo is hilarious as Gallagan’s slimy boss.

The movie really belongs to John Glover as the Donald Trump clone, Daniel Clamp. It would’ve been way too easy to make Clamp a cut and dry villain but what Glover does with the character is pretty amazing. He’s sort of like an aloof goofball with delusions of grandeur and the way Glover plays it is nothing less than brilliant.

To pick a favorite moment from Gremlins 2 would be hard to do. I really love the part where Gizmo becomes Rambo and creates a flaming crossbow using a paper clip, a rubber band, and a match. Then there’s the awesome cameo by Leonard Maltin who gets attacked by the Gremlins after he trashes the first movie. I think I have to go with Cates’ Lincoln’s Birthday monologue that’s a hilarious parody of her infamous Santa Claus speech from the original.

And just so you know, the classic film break sequence in the middle of the film was changed for home video. Instead of having Hulk Hogan scaring the Gremlins into starting the film back up; it’s John Wayne. Of course, the Hulk Hogan version is the way to go.

Gremlins 2: The New Batch is on The Video Vacuum Top Ten Films of 1990 at the Number 7 spot; sandwiched in between Goodfellas and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.

We’ll go from small horrors to giant terrors with…

Tomorrow’s Horror Franchise Movie: Rebirth of Mothra.

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