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With the pleasant holiday frost fair of the last episode behind them, Sean and Cody lock themselves in Clamp Tower with the titular monsters of this extremely bizarre 1990 film, a sequel to an iconic ‘80s fantasy. In Gremlins 2: The New Batch, the furry pet of cartoonist Billy (Zach Galligan) is kidnapped and taken to a genetic engineering lab, where it spawns a legion of mischievous lizardy creatures. The monsters proceed to take over an urban skyscraper and possibly threaten to destroy the world…unless Billy and his billionaire industrialist boss can stop them. Environmental issues discussed include the 1980s-1990s real estate development career of Donald Trump, pre-politics, and especially his strange unrealized project “Trump City,” which has eerie similarities both to the setting of this film and the 20th century career of New York urban designer Robert Moses.
What effect did Trump—one of the models for Gremlins 2’s billionaire character Daniel Clamp—have on the environment of New York City? What was “Trump City” supposed to be, and why wasn’t it built? What about Ted Turner, the other model for the Clamp character? Who was Robert Moses and how did he make New York a more racist place? Can we blame the Baby Boom generation for climate change? Does CNN really have a “doomsday video” in their vault that they plan to show on the day the world ends? Does this film actually have a plot? How come everybody loves Gizmo despite the fact that he’s one of the most dangerous creatures on Earth who must be destroyed for the survival of humanity? Do the Gremlins films take place in the same literary universe as Stranger Things? What the hell were we thinking when we added this film to the Green Screen list? All those questions and more are multiplying in water in this very unusual episode of the podcast.
Original 1990 trailer for Gremlins 2: The New Batch.
The main premise of Gremlins 2–if there can be said to be one–involves the kidnapping of the Gizmo creature by the genetic engineering lab run by Dr. Catheter (Christopher Lee), who, as movie scientists tend to, has questionable ethics.
Horror movie host Grandpa Fred (Robert Prosky) finally fulfills his dream of hard-hitting journalism as he interviews the “brain gremlin” (voiced by Tony Randall), in a typically chaotic scene from the film.
In Gremlins 2, John Glover plays Daniel Clamp, an eccentric billionaire industrialist loosely based on Donald Trump, as he existed in the public consciousness in 1990. Here is a compendium of clips of Glover’s performance.
A typical non-sequitur gag from Gremlins 2. The practical special effects are excellent.
Additional Materials About This Episode:
Donald Trump and “Trump City”
Michael Kruse, “The Lost City of Trump,” Politico Magazine, July/August 2018:
David Barstow, Susanne Craig and Russ Buettner, “Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father,” The New York Times, October 2, 2018:
Owen Bowcott and Esther Addley, “Alex Salmond Brands Trump ‘Loser’ After Judges Reject Windfarm Appeal,” The Guardian, December 16, 2015:
Ted Turner, CNN and the “Doomsday Video”:
Rob Chaney, “Ted Turner Talks of Overpopulation,” Bozeman Daily Chronicle, September 18, 1996:
Sean O’Neal, “CNN’s Doomsday Video Leaks to the Internet,” The A/V Club, January 5, 2015:
The “Doomsday Video” itself.
Review (by Austin Rose) of the book A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America by Bruce Cannon Gibney, a book that makes the claim (among many others) that the Baby Boom generation is primarily responsible for climate change:
Link (Amazon) to the book itself:
Andrew Buss, “An Oral History of Gremlins 2: The New Batch,” Consequence.net, June 15, 2020:
Brad Miska, “Joe Dante Says ‘Gremlins 2’ Was an Anti-Sequel,” Bloody Disgusting, June 3, 2015:
The infamous Key & Peele comedy sketch speculating on the development of Gremlins 2.
Sean Munger’s guest appearance on The Entrepreneur MBA Podcast, discussing the value of learning history:
Where you can find Gremlins 2: The New Batch: https://www.justwatch.com/us/movie/gremlins-2
Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) on IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099700/
Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) on Letterboxd: https://letterboxd.com/film/gremlins-2-the-new-batch/
Next Movie Up: The Congress (2013)