Gremlins (my favorite Christmas movie of all time) and its whacky follow-up Gremlins 2: The New Batch has arrived on Blu-ray and those disgusting troublemakers have never looked better – even if they spend most of the movie being blown up, melted, thrown in a microwave or fed through a paper shredder.
Gremlins was produced in 1984 and Gremlins 2 followed it in 1990. Fans will love the nostalgia factor of both films, and anyone raised in the 80s will find these movies just as fun as ever. On the Blu-ray format, the two films hold up well, and I appreciated the practical effects that it took to make those pesky demon looking lizard things come alive. No CGI here.
Gremlins was written by Christopher Columbus – who went on to be a big-time director with films like Harry Potter, Home Alone, Percy Jackson to name a few directing credits. According to the special features, the film wasn’t supposed to be a comedy, but when the Gremlin creatures were designed, they were so funny looking, that the destiny had to be fulfilled. The first film helped to define a new genre: the horror comedy. It is filled with imagines that were so horrible and little creatures doing things so vile that they had to be funny.
The premise in both films is that that loveable little creature, Gizmo, ends up with the kid named Billy (Zach Galligan) who has to take care of him. There are certain rules to taking care of Gizmo: never feed him after midnight, never get him wet, and keep him away from bright light.
If these rules are broken, especially the feeding after midnight, then chaos ensues. If he were to get wet, then he multiplies. The babies pop off of his back in cute furry balls, but they aren’t always as nice as he is (Gizmo is a cutie).
In the first one, Billy is joined by Kate (Phoebe Cates) in his efforts to get rid of these pesky, destructive creatures after the rules are broken. Christmas bells ring and the fully evolved Gremlins take out Santa Claus and many townspeople in Kingston Falls – a picturesque town reminiscent of Norman Rockwell and happy, middle-class America.
In the second film, a grown-up Kate and Billy are together and planning to get married. They are living in New York City and working for Clamp Corporation, run by Daniel Clamp (played by John Glover).
Glover plays him to the hilt: think a cheesy love child of Ted Turner and Donald Trump. The second film takes the Gremlins to a much larger scale, the towering structure of the Clamp building, and of course they wreak havoc on elevators and all of the high tech gadgets the building has to offer.
Humor abounds as Mr. Clamp shreds a Gremlin in the office shredder, Kate gets stuck in the elevator, and the sprinklers go off after a fire is set.
In both films (but especially in the first one), I am far enough from the 1980s to be nostalgic. I loved the scenes in the toy store (Montgomery Wards I think it was—lots of product placement in this film). It was fun to watch the back ground and pick out different toys from this by-gone era that I had played with (I even saw a stuffed frog that I still have!).
Also, references to passed films gave me a sense of nostalgia in nostalgia. Gremlins 2 pays homage to such films as Phantom of the Opera and Rambo.
Both films hold up well on Blu-ray, and the practical effects will have you laughing all over again. Both are cheesy, gross, over-the-top, but some much fun. The cast returns in Gremlins 2, and it was fun to see small-town Billy and Kate living in a different venue, almost out of their element, but managing to survive.
I watched both movies close enough together to appreciate the difference and similarities in both. Both keep the same fast paces, the fast rules, and in both the rules, of course are broken, and the fun begins.
In Kingston Falls (decorated for the holiday season with plastic Santas and colored lights), the people are simpler but more likeable I think, though, in their own way, just as fake.
In New York, the fakeness of corporate business is emphasized, as seen with Billy’s boss, who will stop at nothing to climb the corporate ladder.
There are recognizable characters: Grandpa Fred, the aging children’s TV show host (played by Robert Prosky) whose show is going to be canceled, Microwave Marge, the Julia Childs-like lady who drinks more of her sherry than she cooks with (played by Kathleen Freeman).
Both releases come loaded with bonus materials that include deleted/alternate scenes, trailers and more.
I thoroughly enjoyed both movies, and highly recommended these for viewing again. So many different elements work for the Gremlins’ movies: humor, cheesy gross-outs, over-the-top characters. Top it off with green lizard looking demon creatures that love chaos and you have one great ride of fun.