Blu-ray Review: ‘Gremlins 2: The New Batch’

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"Gremlins 2: The New Batch" comes out on a single-disc Blu-ray package featuring the second installment to the "Gremlins" franchise. This zany 1990 follow-up to the original 1984 movie serves as a risky and unconventional Hollywood sequel that is way ahead of its time. Unfortunately, it struggled at the box office. But interestingly, it later found cult following in the home video market.

The film's self-referential humor continues the supernatural perversity and absolute chaos of the "Gremlins" canon, this time with a Looney Tunes feel. Its story revolves around the many encounters of the human characters with a new and diverse generation of gremlins. These small but destructive monsters mischievously run around, cause endless hijinks, and practically take control over a building.

Visuals

"Gremlins 2" is a madcap, absurdist satire filled with adorably freakish puppets, outdated 1980s clothes and hairstyles, and dated but appealing special effects. With a scattershot charm, it pokes fun of itself by showcasing an endless array of genre cues almost in reckless abandon. Its blend of bizarre comedy and campy horror focuses on the chaos brought about by its crazy titular creatures.

This transfer delivers a fairly clean version, even though the picture's age actually shows up on its lack of energetic pop, its slightly dull contrast found within the lower end of the grayscale, and the blurriness of certain elements seen on screen. Yet, its novelty still allows it to shine regardless of its expected flaws. Heavy shadows often obscure details, but these don't really detract from the integrity of the film's vision and aesthetics. A thin veil of tasteful grain remains intact and consistent for a more cinematic appeal. No detrimental print damage and visual anomalies are seen throughout the movie's running time.

Audio

The film sports a five-channel audio mix that confidently hosts a number of wild and wacky slapstick elements. The track may sound quite dated, but it is still an enjoyable fare that rightfully reflects its era. The disc also supplies alternative stereo mixes in Spanish, French, German, and Japanese, along with an alternative mono mix in Portuguese.

The surround and LFE channels are typically engaging with the varying sounds of explosions, gunshots, and chasing effects. The spacious score and well-prioritized dialogue add to the film's immersive quality. Except for a few negligible pops and crackles, the audio is relatively free from serious age-related and transfer-related issues.

Supplements

The disc offers a handful of SD featurettes including "The Making of Gremlins 2: The New Batch," "Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary," "Gag Reel," "Alternative Home Video Sequence," and the film's theatrical trailer. It also provides an audio commentary track by director Joe Dante, writer Charlie Haas, producer Michael Finnell, and actor Zach Galligan. Subtitle options are available in English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Japanese, German SDH, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish.

Final Thoughts

As a slice of horror comedy, "Gremlins 2: The New Batch" works as a refreshing spoof of the first film. This gutsy and delinquent beasties flick features a more light-hearted treatment with a live-action cartoon feel. Yet, it effectively maintains the gleeful pandemonium that clicked on the original offering.

During its theatrical release, it was an unpredictable follow-up to one of the biggest hits of the 1980s. Afterwards, it became an under-appreciated surprise as a satire of sequels. Now considered a cinema classic, it may be best valued by cinephiles who can identify most with its many references, homages, and inspirational cues, which include various cinema legends and classics such as Ray Harryhausen, Hammer Films, "Citizen Kane," and "The Wizard of Oz," just to name a few.

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