Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Gremlins 2: The New Batch

Gremlins 2: The New Batch; horror comedy, USA, 1990; D: Joe Dante, S: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, John Glover, Robert Prosky, Robert Picardo, Christopher Lee, Dick Miller, Hulk Hogan

New York. Tycoon Clamp destroys the building of the Chinese salesman, causing the gremlin Gizmo to escape. Billy and Kate work in Clamp's huge business building and discover that Gizmo is held there in a laboratory. The janitor accidentally splashes Gizmo with water, causing the creation of several evil gremlins that multiply, spread and soon put the whole building under siege. After all the customers and staff employees are evacuated, Billy advises Clamp to put dark sheets around the building in order to fool gremlins and lure them into the lobby, where the Sun will destroy them. Unfortunately, just then, the clouds cover the Sun, but after Murray splashes gremlins with water, Billy uses electricity to electrocute them to death.

"Gremlins 2" are a rare kind of sequel that is not one, but actually two steps above the original. Unlike the dumbed-down "Gremlins" that chronically lacked fun or a point, Joe Dante filled the 2nd part with fantastic humor so that the critters from the title almost reach the anarchic point of the Marx brothers. Already the intro is a surprise: in an animated segment, Bugs Bunny introduces the film in front of the Warner Bros. logo, but is interrupted by Duffy Duck who takes over the lead. The satirical tone is continued thanks to a wide range of shrill characters, from the rich Clamp (hilarious John Glover) up to numerous great little lines: in one howlingly funny moment, the police are forbidding the curious people in the crowd from entering the building under siege, but one persistent reporter insists upon entering, which leads to this golden exchange with the police officer: "You have to let me in! I was in Beirut!" - "Oh yeah? I bet they miss you there." The control technicians are mocking Billy's rule which states that gremlins should not eat after midnight ("And what if he eats something in the plane and crosses the time zone?") whereas even metafilm levels are reached when critic Leonard Matlin gives a negative review of the 1st film in a TV show. Billy is, unfortunately, again a bland character, and the story does enter a few empty stretches in the first half, yet the number of inspired jokes is staggering (depending on which version you watch, there is an intermission in which either John Wayne shoots the gremlins or Hulk Hogan threatens them to continue with the screening of the film, but both are so good you have to kneel in front of them; the gargoyle statue joke...) so that one can only pose the question why Dante did not wake up such untrammelled fun already in the 1st film.


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