Watching “The New Batch” is still a very disappointing experience, as director Joe Dante, and the writers seek out to destroy almost everything likable about the original movie. The fantasy and dark whimsy is gone, the menace is gone, and the monsters are more gimmicky than ever. “Gremlins 2” is such an unusually mean jab at the original film, it even mocks the more compelling aspects of the original, including the broad rules for keeping a mogwai, and Phoebe Cates’ haunting story about Christmas. Billy’s inventor father is also nowhere to be found, in favor of Dick Miller who appears to deliver flat running gags and becomes a cheesy plot device. There’s even a lame meta-joke where the movie stops mid-way thanks to the Gremlins that replace the film with their favorite film “Snow White.”
It takes threats from Hulk Hogan in the movie going audience to bring the movie back on. It’s bad enough the producers don’t seem to enjoy the original movie much, but their painstaking intention to make us aware we’re watching a movie is distracting. Long after the events from the first movie, Billy is now living in New York with fiancée Katie at Clamp Enterprises in lower level jobs in separate departments. With land developer Daniel Clamp (John Glover) taking over New York, he tries to bargain with shop owner Mr. Wing to buy his property and re-instate him in a planned artificial Japanese environment. When Wing suddenly dies, Clamp seizes the deed tearing down his shop, leaving Gizmo homeless. He’s discovered by scientists from Clamp’s lab that hope to find out about the creature, and he’s discovered by Billy, who steals him back and agrees to keep him.
When Gizmo is struck by water while hiding, he once again begins breeding demonic versions of himself that begin to wreak havoc throughout Clamp Industries. “The New Batch” is an unusual attempt to mock consumerism and corporations, all the while telling a tale in the vein of “Dawn of the Dead” where the gremlins spawn inside a massive corporate environment and find a new home to breed and live in. There are jabs at just about everything in this movie, from Warner Bros., product placements, and merchandising, right down to the entire concept of the gremlins themselves. It also breaks the rules of the monsters, turning them in to more genetically dependent monsters capable of being altered by almost anything at a moment’s notice.
In one instance Gizmo even stands in broad daylight without being affected. Much of “Gremlins 2” involves delivering as much comedy as possible, completely defanging the gremlins themselves, and turning the whole premise in to one big joke. Even the gremlins aren’t all that creepy anymore, despite their transformations in to giant bats, spiders, and living electricity. Despite more focus on the face of the series Gizmo, “The New Batch” is much more of a satire of the first film, removing all menace and horror, in favor of tongue in cheek gags about consumerism, and the corporate environment that would consume New York in the nineties. While it has its charms, and definite nostalgic value, “Gremlins” deserved a much better follow up than “The New Batch.”