Gremlins 2: The New Batch Movie Review: A Looney Tunes Horror Movie

Written by Chris Morgan

Gremlins is a horror movie. Oh, it has some comedy in it, sure, but it is very much a horror movie, which is one of the reasons it helped lead to the PG-13 rating. Several years later, in 1990, director Joe Dante decided to make good use of the PG-13 rating in his sequel Gremlins 2: The New Batch. Also, he decided to skew things a bit more toward “comedy” than “horror.” OK, a lot more…and he decided to completely let loose in bonkers fashion.

Dante is a rather idiosyncratic filmmaker, but if you are on his wavelength, it can be a very rewarding experience. You’ll need to be enthusiastic about pop culture, in particular the pop culture Dante is into, which largely involves cartoons and old-school horror. Gremlins 2 begins with a bit between Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, which gives you a sense of where this movie is going. Since this is a sequel, we get a few of the same characters from the original, giving Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, and Dante mainstay Dick Miller the chance to come back. However, now we’re in New York, and frankly the human characters barely matter. This movie is all about the Gremlins. Dante loves the Gremlins.

Basically, Billy and Gizmo, the mogwai, are reunited, and then through the usual series of events, Gizmo spans some evil mogwai, and then some evil gremlins. This time, though, they are running amok in a gigantic skyscraper owned by Daniel Clamp, a sort of Donald Trump type, only not completely despicable. He’s just slightly despicable, but in a fun way. Fortunately, there are all sorts of businesses in the building, including a genetics lab, which leads to all sorts of mayhem and madness, and comedy. Gremlins 2 is overtly funny, and it even makes fun of the original. Case in point: Leonard Maltin appears in this film to deliver a derisive review of the original Gremlins, at which point he is attacked by Gremlins. It’s like the Marx Brothers, but with evil little creatures instead.

The comedy of the film largely hits. There are a few hilarious moments, and the Brain Gremlin is awesome, and the pop-culture references are fun. However, it must be kept in mind that this is a horror comedy, even if the horror is light. As such, if you don’t like horror movies, there will still be elements of this film you find unpleasant, although it is essentially gore free, and the body count is very low. It is gross at times, though. Nevertheless, if there was ever going to be a horror film for the non-horror fan to enjoy, it’s Gremlins 2: The New Batch. Yes, that’s partially because it barely qualifies as a horror film, but it is also quite good in its own right. Films like this don’t get made very often. Might as well make the most of the moment.

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