November 17, 2017

Gremlins 2: The New Batch

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(Note: This week's episode is a commentary track meant to be listened to while you watch the movie. If you don't actually have the movie, you can either listen to the beginning and then skip to roughly the two-hour mark, or just go ahead and listen to the whole thing and try to figure out what the hell we're talking about. Whichever works for you. We won't judge.

Also, stick around until the end, because we have news about this year's Holiday Moviepalooza choices! - Derek)

This week, Derek and Larry sat down to watch and discuss Gremlins 2: The New Batch, the sequel to Gremlins, the 1984 Christmas classic from Steven Spielberg.

Six years after some horrible little critters (Dick Miller and Polly Holiday) all buy destroyed the sleepy little town of Kingston Falls, the person responsible for it, Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan), and his adorably cute girlfriend, Kate Beringer (Phoebe Cates), are now living in New York, working for the Clamp Organization, which is owned by one Daniel Clamp (John Glover).

In Chinatown, fuzzy little Mogwai Gizmo (voiced by Howie Mandel) is back in Mr.Wing's (Keye Luke) curio shop, where he belongs. When a visitor (Robert Picardo) shows up to play a videotape at Mr. Wing--a videotape of Daniel Clamp offering to buy his shop in in order to build a giant, gaudy Chinese-themed tower. Mr. Wing is the only holdout, but he is in poor health, so it may only be a matter of time. And that time is about three minutes.

Whatever...I don't even care,
Back at Clamp Tower, Billy and Kate head to their respective jobs; he as what appears to be a conceptual artist, and she as a tour guide to the massive, "technologically advanced" building. (Really, it's a crap building. Every mechanical thing in the place tries to kill anybody using it, and the gremlins haven't even shown up!)

Billy is forced to deal with one of the most stereotypical 80s New York women since Jeanine Melnitz in Ghostbusters, his supervisor, Marla Bloodstone (Haviland Morris), a constantly smoking, neurotic, power-hungry woman who treats every single thing like it is the end of the world. Not only does she constantly shoot down Billy's ideas, but she also wants to see what his underpants look like.

The man she wants meets the man she wants to be.
The carpet under her feet is ruined right now.
Back across town, the curio shop is being destroyed, now that Mr. Wing is dead. Gizmo, now homeless, wanders the mean streets until he is captured by twin scientists, Martin (Don Stanton) and Lewis (Dan Stanton), and taken back to the genetics lab where they work, which just happens to be in the Clamp Tower! What are the odds?!

(No, really...What are the odds that this one rare creature would somehow find its way through a city of about 7.5 million people at the time, and end up in the laps of the two people that it knows? Based on what little information we could find about this kind of probability, it hovers around about 12%, although that seems way too high to us.)

Not only does Clamp Towers have an art department, a genetics lab, and what looks like a mall of some kind; it also has a television studio that rivals 30 Rock in size. There are a number of shows shot there, including Microwaving with Marge (Kathleen Freeman), The Clamp Cable News channel, and a b-movie show featuring a host named Grandpa Fred (Robert Prosky), who looks like Al Lewis as Grandpa Munster. Billy and Fred are friends, and they lament the fact that Daniel Clamp only wants horrible gaudiness instead of quality.

Back in the lab, Dr. Catheter (Christopher Lee) is unimpressed by Lewis and Martin's new find, and he's all-in on the idea of dissecting Gizmo and trying to find his "cuteness gene".

Yes, but can I make it one of my dark minions?
Fortunately (and improbably), a deliveryman (Raymond Cruz) hears Gizmo humming his song, gets it stuck in his head, and starts humming it himself. Moments later, in another incredible coincidence, Billy overhears the song and grills the man about where he heard it. The man tells him, and Billy immediately lies his way into the genetics lab to see if his suspicion is correct. (SPOILER: It is.)

Billy rescues Gizmo from the lab, but now he has to hide him until he can go home. He stuffs the Mogwai into a drawer and tells him to wait. Immediately, Marla arrives and suggest she and Billy discuss some new ideas over dinner (at a restaurant that serves Canadian cuisine, because why the hell not). More or less trapped into going, Billy finds Kate and tells her that she will have to take Gizmo back to their apartment while he fends off Marla's advances over a Molson and some poutine. Kate, who is a reasonable person with a pretty good memory of instances when a bunch of these creatures tried to murder her to death, is not especially thrilled about the idea, but she agrees.

Billy tells Gizmo that Kate is coming for him, and then goes off to dinner with Marla. Gizmo,satisfied that Billy is really gone, escapes the desk drawer he was left in, and is almost immediately soaked by a janitor (John Astin) who is fixing a water fountain while muttering to himself about how underappreciated he is. This causes a number of little fuzzballs to shoot out of Gizmo's back, and we all know where this is going, right?

Left to Right: Larry, Jake and Derek meet Grandpa Fred
Yes, these little fuzzballs are all evil Mogwai. They torture Gizmo and throw him into an air duct, and then go about causing mayhem. Kate comes to the office and takes the googly-eyed, giggling Mogwai, believing it is Gizmo. She takes it home, where it begins to trash the entire place.

At the Canadian restaurant, Marla continues trying to woo Billy, who is not the least bit interested. When she realizes that she isn't going to get anywhere, she lets him leave, but not before laying a sloppy, lipstick-covered kiss on his cheek.

Billy returns home to find Kate covered in food and the apartment wrecked. And then he finds that t wasn't Gizmo that Kate brought home. It slowly dawns on them both what has happened, and they get ready to go back to the tower and find Gizmo. Unfortunately, they are delayed when the Mr. and Mrs. Futterman (Dick Miller and Jackie Joseph, respectively) arrive a day early to visit. You will recall Mr. Futterman as the astoundingly racist, alcoholic tractor driver from the first movie, and Mrs. Futterman as his put-upon wife. But now they're fun and goofy, so it's okay!

Billy and Kate blow them off and head to the tower, just in time to discover that the Mogwai have eaten after midnight, and are now the super-killy gremlins, whose antics make the tower slightly more glitchy.

What follows is the usual gremlin hijinks, including attacking the television studio, the genetics lab, Daniel Clamp himself, and even the film itself. (This last one is remedied by the appearance of Hulk Hogan, for some reason.)

Once the gremlins get into the genetics lab, they begin trying all the different concoctions available to them, creating several genetically-modified new gremlins: a bat-gremlin, a spider gremlin, and one that can actually carry on a normal conversation (voiced by Tony Randall).

And a musical number. Did we mention a musical number?
Billy meets up with Clamp, and they come up with a plan involving getting the gremlins into the lobby and exposing them to sunlight. But will it work? Will Billy and Kate's relationship survive Marla's incessant need to paw at Billy? Will Gizmo's affinity for Rambo movies every be explained? Will Mr. Futterman have a relapse and murder everybody? You'll have to listen to find out!

Larry enjoys this movie. All the gags, the gremlins themselves, and even whatever the deal is with Marla. He is also thrilled that Gedde Watanabe makes an appearance as, surprise, a camera-toting Japanese tourist whose grasp of what is actually going on is only marginally better than his grasp of the English language.

Derek also loves the film. Despite the harsh reviews, he can appreciate that it doesn't even try to take itself too seriously, even during the darkest moments. He says it is, essentially, a parody of itself and the entire franchise. He was also excited to see Leonard Maltin in the movie, but it raises the question: If the first Gremlins movie exists in this universe, is it considered a documentary to him?

So don't get wet, don't eat after midnight, and tune in to this week's show!