Sunday, April 16, 2017

Chris' #86: Gremlins 2: The New Batch (Joe Dante, 1990)

Starring: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, John Glover, Robert J. Prosky, Robert Picardo, Christopher Lee
Director: Joe Dante
Writer: Charles S. Haas
Release Date: June 15, 1990

First Time
I don't remember the exact year, but it was sometime in the early 90s. There's a good chance that this was the only Gremlins movie I saw when I was younger. I watched both movies last year and pretty much all of the first one felt very new to me.

Why it's on the List
In my ET write-up, I mentioned that there was another instance on my list of a creature being dressed up as woman that creeped me out back in the day. This is that movie.

In this case, kid me was weirded out by the sexualization of this^ nasty ass creature. I vividly remember feeling uncomfortable during these moments in the film and not liking them.

Rewatching this as an adult is a lot of fun, especially after seeing the first film as well. It is truly insane and I mean that in the best possible way. The New Batch is the perfect sequel because it's not just a recreation of the first one; it builds off of Gremlins in a very ambitious way. The first one wasn't much of a horror film (if at all), so it doesn't feel like a betrayal to the franchise for the second movie to go off in such a ridiculously cartoonish direction. Dante and crew were willing to take the sequel off the edge of a cliff, only to land safely and carve out its own place in the world.

I love how the film progresses. Eventually smaller scenes are inserted for the sole purpose of executing a joke; for example, the parody of an iconic scene from The Phantom of the Opera. I love the commitment to the comedy, and many of the best moments are in the details. When Grandpa Fred (Prosky) sits down for an interview with Brain Gremlin, a little gremlin hand comes into frame to apply some last minute makeup to Grandpa Fred's face. It makes me laugh every time.

Being too meta can be problematic for a lot of projects, but that's not the case here. Leonard Maltin reviewing the first Gremlins movie is a nice touch, as is Hulk Hogan intimidating a couple of gremlins in the projection booth to put the film back on.

Most of the performances are fairly broad, but there's also some decent depth to most of the characters. Robert Picardo (who I just saw in an episode of Justify) plays a heartless prick very well, but the female gremlin's obsession with him kinda humanizes the character a bit. John Glover is amazing in this - most of the time his character is too busy stuck up his own ass, but his child-like wonder and enthusiasm is infectious.

As an adult now, Billy (Zach Galligan) really grows into the role of the likable everyman. His relationship with Kate (Phoebe Cates) is very strong and withstands the test of Marla, allowing it to feel more authentic than most movie relationships. I also appreciate the fact that the film avoids that tired cycle of a couple being tested, fighting, and then reconciling. But I will say that while Kate is very supportive of her fiance, it's not as if she is given a lot to do in the movie. But Cates makes the most of every scene. Her shining moment comes in the form of monologue about Lincoln that is eventually interrupted.

I would watch a spin-off movie with Murray Futterman (played by Dick Miller) going to different vacation spots with his wife (played by Jackie Joseph), only to find that all his holidays are ruined by gremlin outbreaks.

Gizmo acting like Rambo will always bring me a lot of joy.

The movies ages very well, I would say. There are some cool effects - the paper shredder death, for example. But also, the animation with the flying gremlin still looks great.

There is a bit of a nostalgia factor here, but I feel it fully withstands all of that and truly belongs on this list.

Additional Notes/Stats
  • This is the third of nine sequels on my list.
  • The only Joe Dante movies I've seen are the two Gremlins movies and Small Soldiers. I'm not too familiar with his other work. I'm sure Brandon will educate me during the course of this project.
  • This is the only Phoebe Cates movie on my list. I've never seen Fast Times at Ridgemont High from beginning to end, and haven't seen any of her other movies.
  • Speaking of Cates (and her family), shout out to Hunter Davidsohn for his great work on Frankie Cosmos' album Next Thing. I listened to it again today on the way home from Philly.
  • This is the second Christopher Lee movie on my list (LOTRThe Two Towers being the first, obviously). This is it for him; I'm not too familiar with the horror movies that made him a legend.
  • Tuco from Breaking Bad is in Gremlins 2. He plays a delivery guy and has a couple of lines. I thought that was pretty neat and noteworthy. Gotta get caught up on Better Call Saul.


  1. It's pure pandemonium from a guy obsessed with Looney Tunes. Great pick. Also, I've hung out with Phoebe Cates twice.

    1. Jeff was telling me a little bit about that. That's awesome.