Twenty years ago, sequels weren’t as automatic as they are today. To get a part 2 greenlit, you really had to earn it. And Joe Dante’s giddy 1984 monster mash Gremlins did. The story of a furry little ”Mogwai” named Gizmo, who happened to come with some hazardous side effects when exposed to light, water, or food after midnight, Gremlins was one of those rare box office smashes that played just as well to kids as to their grinning parents. In the underrated Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990, PG-13, 1 hr., 46 mins.), Dante moved the mayhem to New York City, where the first movie’s heroes, Billy (Zach Galligan) and his gal pal Kate (Phoebe Cates), now work for a power-mad media mogul (John Glover) — a cross between Ted Turner and Donald Trump (trust me, it was a real zinger back in 1990). Soon they’re reunited with the cuddly, cooing Gizmo, who naturally gets soaked by a water fountain and spawns a new brood of ripsnorting beasties who are hungry, horny, and hell-bent on destruction. As the gremlins buzz-saw through Manhattan, Dante gooses the action with a barrage of pop culture in-jokes and the sugar-shock pacing of a tyke who’s just downed a fistful of Pixy Stix. Honestly, none of it makes a lick of sense, but when you’re having this much fun, who cares? All I know is, when it’s over you’ll need a nap. B+
GREEN GOOEY NY T-Shirt Gremlin in Gremlins 2: The New Batch (Everett Collection)
Genre: Comedy, Horror; Starring: Phoebe Cates, Zach Galligan, John Glover, Christopher Lee, Tony Randall; Director: Joe Dante; Author: Charles S. Haas; Runtime (in minutes): 106; MPAA Rating: PG-13
Posted October 17 2012 — 12:00 AM EDT
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