Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)
Directed by Joe Dante
November 23 at BAM, part of its "Chuck Amuck" Chuck Jones series
"This is worse than the first one," an exasperated filmgoer whines midway through this sequel, after the titular creatures commandeer the projector at a cinema inside the Orwellian Midtown headquarters of Clamp Industries, the movie's true villain. The suppressed desires indulged by the first batch of gremlins—who in 1984 terrorized an American Anytown reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell painting—seem tame compared to the havoc the second wave visits upon the empire of gentrifying real estate tycoon and insidious corporate guru Daniel Clamp (John Glover). The culture whose taboos the gremlins shatter in this sequel is, indeed, much worse than the first one's.
Chuck Jones deserves much of the credit for the second batch's increased vigor. He gives volume and texture to a gremlin horde teeming with diversity: there's bat gremlin, spider gremlin, Professor gremlin, cougar gremlin (the vampy older woman kind, not the big cat kind), electric gremlin, veggie gremlin, and many more. Jones and Dante know who the movie's real heroes are; tellingly, Gizmo spends most of it in hiding. The bad guy, meanwhile, is a spineless Bloomberg-Giuliani hybrid who's introduced pitching a project to raze Chinatown and rebuild it in the image of his differences-crushing enterprise. His generic vision for the Clamp Chinatown Center ("where business gets oriented") is the brushwork of leading man Billy (Zach Galligan), who's abandoned his dreams of becoming a comic book artist to paint renderings of Clamp's forthcoming cookie-cutter megaliths. Compared to the gremlins' unbridled hedonism, he and his fellow cubicle inmates absolutely have it worse.