Column 2: Electric Boogaloo - Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)

In our brand new column, our writers bust out some sick literary moves to fight for sequels they think are better than the original. This week, Errol Kerr stays up past midnight to argue that these iconic 80s critters’ second outing was superior.

Errol Kerr
20th February 2017

After the horrific events of last year, my perspective has truly changed, and I had a bit of a faith crisis. With my faith in cinema shaken, I came to an unexpected – and at first, shocking – conclusion: Gremlins 2: The New Batch is better than the OG Gremlins.

Okay, right, no, keep reading. I know this is sacrilege. And/or blasphemy. But bear with me, this is only a decision I made over Christmas – and I’m 100% sure I can persuade you that this is the case. If you’d thought Gizmo’s awful habit of replicating into hundreds of evil gremlins did enough damage to a small town, imagine the damage they could do to a skyscraper. You’re welcome. I should mention that John Glover’s character, the eccentric and slightly daft billionaire Daniel Clamp, was designed as a parody of Donald Trump in the 1990s. It’s almost shocking to think that Trump has literally outdone any feasible parody of himself, but he sure as hell has. Mind you, due to 2016 occurring we’re able to look at this film through the lens of the Trumpocalypse, and this parody of a parody of a disaster movie becomes absolute bloody gold. ABSOLUTE GOLD, I TELL YOU. Clamp is eccentric but (mostly) a man who means well, however leads his enterprise – and the entirety of Clamp Tower- the kidnapping of Gizmo by the Clamp business. With control over his business network, a widespread cable network as well as being a centralised tourist attraction, herein lies a business organisation in control of multiple aspects of life. Sounding familiar? (too soon?)

"It’s a parody beyond words of the disaster genre"

In the first film, Gizmo’s development from a singular animatronic ball of fluff into a multitude of violent animatronic monstrosities is simply via accident. In The New Batch, the story is far more believable (I can’t believe I’m calling it believable, but hang on) as it is the head of Clamp’s “Splice of Life” lab, Dr. Catheter, who is responsible for the invasion of the disaster-causing gremlins. I mean, considering he had intended on dissecting the poor Mogwai, it reads far more into western human industrialism and its attempt to harness powers beyond their control than the first film. This, mind, could be reading too far into animatronics blowing stuff up, but I’m an English Lit graduate, this kind of stuff is what I do. Oh, did I mention Dr. Catheter is played by Sir Christopher Lee, and there are a good couple of references to the Hammer horror films for which he is famed for in his younger years, seeing Lee in a comedic role is a must-see.

Whilst it may not have the stability of the previous film, it’s remarkable that it is this chaos that makes this film shine. It’s a parody beyond words of the disaster genre, and watching the corridors of the clamp centre overrun by escaping people and angry gremlins is – actually – a far more relatable parody of the disaster genre than the first film – and I never thought I would ever say that. 2016 really changed things up, eh?

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