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Gremlins 2: The New Batch

Though the first Gremlins was viewed as a family-oriented monster movie, it becomes obvious from watching it that director Joe Dante was clearly infatuated with the gremlins themselves and their Looney Tunes by way of Mad magazine behavior. And when Warner Brothers needed a summer film for 1990 they turned to Dante — who had refused to make a sequel before. But they offered him carte blanche, and he couldn't refuse. As Dante says in the audio commentary on this DVD — though he doesn't like the credit "A Joe Dante film" — Gremlins 2: The New Batch is the one movie he views as most his — and if you appreciate Dante's aesthetics (which are similar to the Gremlins), this film is a treat. Set in New York, G2 puts Billy (Zach Galligan) and Kate (Phoebe Cates) back in the mix as they work at Clamp Towers, which is owned by the Trump-esque Daniel Clamp (John Glover). But when Gizmo's keeper Mr. Wing (Keye Luke) dies of old age, Gizmo is picked up by genetic scientists who work in Clamp Towers under the supervision of Dr. Catheter (Christopher Lee). Billy finds Gizmo, frees him, but is sucked off to dinner by his vampish redheaded boss Marla Bloodstone (Haviland Morris) after he impresses Daniel Clamp. However, soon enough Gizmo (voiced again by Howie Mandel) has enough time to get wet, and the offspring are just as troublesome as the ones from the first film — eating after midnight, turning into gremlins, and multiplying. With the genetics factory nearby, the critters experiment with genetic engineering, creating a vegetable medley gremlin, a bat gremlin with tolerance to sunlight, a smart gremlin (voiced by Tony Randall), and a female gremlin. If the original Gremlins offered about 20 minutes of anarchy, the sequel triples the amount of time the buggers get to behave badly, to an insane and humorous effect. If you can get into their anarchic humor, it's a lot of fun to watch them take over the Clamp building, and at one point the movie itself (literally). Though the story is fairly transparent, the picture delivers manic gags and movie parodies (including Marathon Man, Wizard of Oz, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and the first Gremlins) in a cracked way that comes as close as anyone has to replicating the chaotic cartoon world of Chuck Jones — which seems to be what Dante intended. Warner's DVD release of Gremlins 2: The New Batch is a nice special edition featuring an anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) and both DD 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Surround audio. Extras include an audio commentary with Joe Dante, Mike Finnell, Galligan, and screenwriter Charles Haas, a behind-the-scenes featurette (6 min.), a gag reel, 22 minutes of cut scenes (with optional commentary), the theatrical trailer, cast and crew bios, and an Easter egg. Snap-case.

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