So to start us off – this whole discussion spawned off of our recent ‘Franchises That Should Have Stopped‘ episode. Apparently, I touched a livewire with some controversy that I had never stumbled upon. Surprising, given I love a bad movie and I love a weird story… the tale of Joe Dante and Gremlins 2 had passed me by.
I appreciate some of our listeners telling me how wrong I was about how Gremlins 2 being bad. They explain that it is, in fact, kind of brilliant if you understand what’s going on. I went and read the tweet thread on it (with a big shoutout to Professor Murder and Kess) as well as watched some interviews with Director Joe Dante, and fell into the rabbithole that is Gremlins 2.
The short version – Warner Brothers didn’t expect Gremlins to be a hit, but it was. They wanted a sequel, but Joe Dante, director of the first one, didn’t want to make it. They kept throwing money at him until he relented, and in turn, used the budget to make a commentary as to why Gremlins didn’t need a sequel. Dammit… that’s good. He went in with making a movie that embodies the absurdity of commercialism culture, sequels, lampoons Ted Turner and Trump, the bad reviews that Gremlins received, and the disregard of classic cinema. So, let me state, right here and now, that as an adult looking at the call and response of an artist making fools of the studio with their own money…
When lil’ me was 10 years old with my Gizmo toy and perfect impression of Stripe going ‘DEEAGLE DEAGLE DEAGLE’ who saw the original film at the drive-in, watched Gremlins 2 and read the novelization (which does not feature Hulk Hogan, but a cut-in by Brain Gremlin which may have been my first real exploration into meta-text) — I was confused. The movie I got felt so much closer to Critters or Killer Klowns than it did the perfect scary Christmas movie about a terrorized small town that was the original. As an adult, I don’t even know what I could have received that would have sated my Gremlins love. Ghostbusters 2 was good, but not great. Honey I Blew Up The Kids… meh.
What could G2 been that would have held any candle to the original?
I have to accept that maybe the correct answer is that the only movie that deserved to follow Gremlins, was the Gremlins 2 we got – and knowing the whole of the tale makes 40-something ol’ me appreciate its balls a lot more. Amusingly enough, I stand by that the original movie didn’t need a sequel, and the man who made that sequel apparently agreed with that idea so much… he made this particular sequel.
If you would like to fall into this rabbit hole – here are a couple of the places I did research:
Gremlins 2 Q&A w/ Joe Dante
The Institute of Gremlins 2 Studies