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Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)
Gremlins 2: The New Batch is to Gremlins like Halloween 3 is to Halloween, or like Freddy vs. Jason is to… er… any other Jason and Freddy movie. It’s off. Way, way off. It’s like the sequel of Citizen Kane being The Silence of the Lambs. Both are excellent movies in their own right, but not exactly shooting for the same viewer demographic. This is exactly what happened to Gremlins 2.
In order to enjoy this movie you must:
- Have no real problems with the concept of the first Gremlins movie
- Have a fetish for off-beat cinema
- Have a blatant (or at least a closet) obsession with 1950s atomic-creature movies.
To reiterate, it is imperative that you can’t have any major problems with the original Gremlins. The reason being is that the concept of this film is identical to the first movie. Gremlins are spawned. Gremlins cause mayhem. Gizmo saves the day. If you can tolerate this formula, then we’ll move on to point two.
While the concept of Gremlins 2 was the same as the original, the angle taken toward acting out that concept was very different, which brings me to the “fetish for off-beat cinema.” Gremlins was a family film that was scary and heart-warming at the same time. The comedy was light and fluffy and it was a feel-good film. Gremlins 2 is nothing of the sort. The film is ridden with comedy, both in much bigger quantities and geared to a much more mature audience. The first film was charming and had a definitive plot with a nice little sensitive touch at the end. Gremlins 2 does not have much of a plot that I can determine, unless you can call complete and utter bedlam a storyline. But this was fine because in the first 10 minutes of viewing you realized that this movie was meant to be wacky and over-the-top. It is almost like the movie company was poking fun at its own creation.
It is a necessity to enjoy 1950s atomic-creature movies to enjoy Gremlins 2, because this film is the creature film to end all creature films. Much of the actual “scariness’ of the gremlins is gone, and instead we are treated with the most ridiculous gremlins imaginable such as a spider gremlin, a gremlin that can talk, and a girl-whore gremlin that looks like a Smurfette cloning gone horribly wrong. By the way, there is not much in the way of an explanation for why these metamorphoses occurred. In reality, it was simply a showcase for the special effects talents of the day.
While the original film was propelled by a killer script and incredible acting, Gremlins 2 is propelled almost completely on special effects, multiple “nudge nudge wink winks“ to all monsters great and small, and sheer anarchy. These aren’t bad things, but they happen to be the three components that make up a 1950s atomic-creature movie. If that wasn’t enough to convince you, this film also contains Christopher Lee as Dr. Catheter (like that name isn‘t right out of a classic B-monster movie flick), who is clearly most recognized by classic monster-movie fans.
This sequel is one of the few movie sequels that has a completely different audience than its predecessor film. While Gremlins catered to the mainstream audience, Gremlins 2 is for true monster fans. Gremlins catered to families; Gremlins 2 caters to adults. Gremlins was light and upbeat; Gremlins 2 is darker and off-beat. I enjoyed Gremlins 2, but I couldn‘t possibly recommend it. If you meet the criteria listed at the beginning of this review, than give Gremlins 2 a shot. If not, than do yourself a favor and stick to the original.