Gremlins 2: The New Batch

Gremlins 2: The New Batch is a 1990 American comedy horror film, and a sequel to Gremlins (1984). It was directed by Joe Dante and written by Charles S. Haas, with creature designs by Rick Baker. It stars Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, John Glover, Robert Prosky, Haviland Morris, Dick Miller, Jackie Joseph, Robert Picardo and Christopher Lee; additionally, Frank Welker (who played Stripe in the first film) reprises his role as a gremlin.

The story continues the adventures of the creature Gizmo, who spawns numerous small monsters when wet. In the first film, Gizmo’s offspring had rampaged through a small fictional town. In Gremlins 2, Gizmo multiplies within a skyscraper in New York City. The new creatures thus pose a serious threat to the city should they be able to leave the building, and much of the story involves the human characters’ efforts to prevent this disaster.

Like the first film, Gremlins 2 is a live action comedy-horror film. However, Dante put effort into taking the sequel in new anarchic directions. The film is meant to be more cartoon-like than the darker original, and the violence is fairly slapstick. There are also a number of parodies of other films and stories, most notably Gremlins itself, as well as the Rambo films, The Wizard of Oz, Marathon Man and The Phantom of the Opera.


Joe Dante told Cahiers du Cinéma in 1990, that Warner Bros. opened this movie directly opposite Dick Tracy (1990) in an attempt to keep the box-office record set by Batman (1989) from being broken.

Suggested by Jonathan Kaplan, Joe Dante hired Charles S. Haas to write the screenplay.


After Gremlins (1984) became such a surprise success, Warner Bros. immediately wanted a sequel, but director Joe Dante had had enough Gremlins for a while and declined. Work on Gremlins 2 proceeded without him, as the studio approached various directors and writers. Storylines considered included sending the gremlins to cities like Las Vegas or even the planet Mars. After these ideas fell through, the studio finally asked Dante again, who agreed on the condition that he be allowed to do anything he wanted. He also received a bigger budget. In the DVD commentaries for both the original film and the sequel, Dante stated that he felt that Gremlins 2 was a case of waiting too long to capitalize on the success of the original, which hurt the sequel’s chances of success.


For the special effects, Joe Dante turned to Rick Baker when Chris Walas and Rob Bottin had to turn it down. Initially, Baker was not interested as he saw this movie as too much work for a project in which he would not be the creator but rather a successor to Walas. He was eventually persuaded to accept the job when it was suggested he could make the Gremlins and Mogwai more diverse.


Aside from Mohawk, the other three Mogwai created from Gizmo are called George, Lenny, and Daffy (the first two referring to John Steinbeck’s novel “Of Mice And Men”, the latter referring to Daffy Duck).


In the original script, Randall Peltzer was to return after the gremlins were killed at the end, and give to Gizmo his newest “invention”: a wet-suit like thing that would prevent Gizmo from ever getting wet again, therefore preventing any sort of gremlin problems in the future (provided it never ate after midnight). The scene was all set to shoot, and the actor who played Mr. Peltzer, Hoyt Axton, was available to shoot the scene. But, the filmmakers figured that the movie was already running too long, and they’d never use the scene anyway, so it was never shot.


When Gremlins 2 made its debut on home video, the filmmakers altered the film-breaking scene, to make it seem as if VCRs had been broken by the gremlins. This time actor John Wayne (in footage from Chisum (1970) forces the gremlins into continuing the film, although voice impersonation was needed since Wayne had been dead since 1979. Wayne’s son, Michael Wayne, recommended Chad Everett for the voice. Notably, a clip from Falling Hare (1943), featuring Bugs Bunny and a different, cartoon gremlin, appears in this version.


The uplifting end of the world video scene was included by the filmmakers when they find out that one the news networks actually have such a video prepare to run in case of the end of the world. This video apparently still exists and still ready to run at the final hour.


In the scene where Mohawk drinks a potion which enables him to change into a centauroid spider, the pulsating sound effect from Tarantula (1955) can be heard. The effect was originally recorded for the Martian war machines in The War of the Worlds (1953).


WILHELM SCREAM: As a victim is covered in gremlins and he falls off of a ledge.


Clamp’s automatic office doors open and sound the same as the doors of the Enterprise from “Star Trek” (1966).


Most of the scenes where Gizmo (or the other mogwai) were on their own, were filmed with double scale puppets.


Robert Picardo controlled Greta, the “female” gremlin when it was attached to him instead of the puppeteers because the puppet had so much contact and movements with his character. This technique is also used in the scene where Daniel Clamp (John Glover) pushes the gremlin in the paper shredder.


The opening aerial shot of New York City was stock footage from Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987).


In a deleted scene, the Gremlins release all the animals in the “Splice o’ Life” lab. During the filming of this scene, the monkeys in the lab set were genuinely so terrified of the Gremlin puppets, that they refused to leave their cages when their trainers called for them.


The mother scolding the theater manager regarding the movie’s inappropriate tone for children was based in fact. During a screening of Gremlins (1984), Joe Dante really was excoriated by a mother who walked out of the theater with her daughter during the infamous kitchen massacre sequence. The daughter begged to be let back in the theater, got free from the mother, and hid in the theater to watch the rest of the film.


In a corridor of the Clamp Tower, one nameplate says “Dr. Quatermass”. Quatermass is the main character in a number of British television series and movies, including “The Quatermass Experiment” (1953).


Gizmo refers to Mr. Wing as “Keye Luke”, which is, of course, the actor’s real name.


At one point, Joe Dante, Michael Finnell, Steven Spielberg and Charles S. Haas thought what the movie needed was some kind of SWAT team character, a soldier of fortune who could come in during the fourth act, and there would be a lot of Road Runner-Coyote gags between this guy and the Gremlins. Charles Napier was their first choice for this character.


In the cartoon intro, Daffy Duck says to Bugs: “Fifty years of you hogging the spotlight is enough”. This movie was released the year of Bugs Bunny’s 50th birthday.


A billboard of Do the Right Thing (1989) can be seen in the scene in Times Square, next to Burger King.


When Kate arrives to Billy’s office looking for Gizmo, she finds mogwai Daffy on the top of the Clamp Tower model playing with some airplane toys located over him. This is an homage to King Kong (1933).


The movie that Grandpa Fred presents in his show as “The Attack of the Octopus People” is, in fact, Octaman (1971), which feature the first costume designed by Rick Baker.


In a corridor of the Clamp Tower, one nameplate says “Vectorscope Labs”. This is a reference to the movie Innerspace (1987) also directed by Joe Dante.


When Christopher Lee was cast in this movie, one of the first things he did was apologize to Joe Dante (who also directed The Howling (1981)) for appearing in Howling II: Stirba – Werewolf Bitch (1985).


Originally, Steven Spielberg wanted to cut the scene when a boy crosses the “Police Line” banner outside Clamp Tower. He changed his mind when Joe Dante revealed to him that this boy was his nephew.


Leonard Maltin appears as himself repeating his criticisms of Gremlins (1984) while he holds a video version of the movie. However, his rant is cut short when gremlins pounce on him as a result. In his annual Movie Guide he gives Gremlins 2 three stars (out of a possible four) and refers to this scene as a “gratuitous cameo”, though he doesn’t say he’s actually in the movie.


The original version of the film was longer, but, Steven Spielberg after the first screening claimed there were too many gremlins and several scenes were cut as a result.


Among the changes in the original script was that Daniel Clamp (John Glover) evolved from being the central villain into kind of a nice guy, while the character played by Robert Picardo took over most of the villain’s role.


When Billy is trying to explain the rules regarding the mogwai to Forster’s staff, they find them quite absurd and interrogate him on the application of this rules. This scene originates from the fact that the filmmakers themselves saw the rules as irrational, and some questions in the scene were based upon queries raised by fans of Gremlins (1984).


There is a sample of the action music from the film The ‘burbs (1989), also directed by Joe Dante and composed by Jerry Goldsmith, when the Bat Gremlin flies out of the Clamp Tower after being injected with the sunblock solution.


In a deleted scene, Dr. Catheter examines a bat injected with the sunblock solution. He then says to Wally, “I’m told they sometimes feed on blood”; this is a reference to Christopher Lee’s performances as Count Dracula in the “Hammer” Horror films.


For the Italian version of the movie, notorious Italian art critic Vittorio Sgarbi gave his voice to the Brain Gremlin.


At one point in the film, Joe Dante attempted to involve his audience in the story by making it seem as if the gremlins had taken over whatever theatre Gremlins 2 would be screened in. This sequence was inspired by a similar stunt in William Castle’s The Tingler (1959). During his DVD commentary for this movie, Dante recalled that Warner Bros. wanted the sequence cut, as they were concerned the audience would believe the film actually had malfunctioned; test screening ultimately proved otherwise. However, the video version caused problems: Instead of film-breaking effects, the scene looked like a VHS malfunctioning. Many rental copies were returned as a result of this, and video mastering houses called the filmmakers to ask them if this was intentional.


Several gremlins hiccuping are archive recordings of Mel Blanc’s hiccups from various Looney Tunes shorts.


Tim Curry was considered for the voice of the Brain Gremlin.


In a deleted scene, three of the main gremlins (George, Lenny and Daffy) sneaking into Grandpa Fred’s studio and “helping” him host, which worked because Grandpa Fred’s show was supposed to be scary. A still from this scene was used on the video cover.


Joe Dante claimed that the gremlins musical number is a shameless steal from the film Dames (1934), another Warner Bros. release.


John Hora, the Director of Photography (who made his screen acting debut on Innerspace (1987), also directed by Joe Dante), appears briefly in the movie, but his scene was cut.


The character of Grandpa Fred is obviously based on Al Lewis’s character (Grandpa Munster) in the television series “The Munsters” (1964).


The movie that the gremlins George and Lenny are watching in the systems control center is The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953).


The filmmakers chose John Rambo as the character that Gizmo was going to imitate in this movie. The permission for their use was granted by Sylvester Stallone.


Unlike the “PG” rated predecessor, the MPAA rated this movie “PG-13”. It should be noted that Gremlins (1984) is one of the movies that helped to create the PG-13 rating.


Director Cameo: [Joe Dante] as the director of Grandpa Fred’s show.


Cameo: [Charles S. Haas] (The screenwriter) as Casper, Dr. Catheter’s assistant.


Cameo: [Jerry Goldsmith] alongside his wife Carol Heather Goldsmith, as customers at the frozen yogurt counter.


Cameo: [Henry Gibson] as the employee fired by Forster, for taking an unauthorized break.


Cameo: [Julia Sweeney] as Peggy, the “Splice o’ Life” lab receptionist.


Cameo: [John Astin] as the janitor, who tries to repair the water fountain.


Cameo: [Jason Presson] (one of the stars of Explorers (1985), also directed by Joe Dante), as Alex, the yogurt jerk.


Cameo: [Bubba Smith] as Himself, trying to save Dick Butkus who is attacked at the salad bar.


After Innerspace (1987), this movie marked the fourth collaboration between Joe Dante and Michael Finnell with Steven Spielberg.


Immediately after Billy electrocutes the gremlins in the lobby, a musical quote from the “Dies Irae” (a Latin hymn about the Judgment Day) can be heard in the musical score.


Ranked #33 in Empire Magazine’s “50 Greatest Ever Movie Sequels” (2009).


As the Bat Gremlin crashes through the wall, escaping into the city, it leaves a hole in the shape of the Batman symbol.


Chris Walas, who created the Gremlins in the first film, declined the opportunity to create them again, choosing instead to create the effects for The Fly (1986).


Filed under: Fantasy

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