Gremlins In The Halls Of Greed

Gremlins 2 The New Batch is director Joe Dante's best film since . . . well, since "Gremlins." There's something about these madcap devil dolls that liberates Dante's infernal imagination. His satirical sensibility gets to run riot in this sequel. Abandoning the small-town setting of the original, Charlie Haas's sharp script--a happy mixture of sophistication and utter silliness--relocates the gremlins in the heart of corporate America: inside the sleek New York office tower of real estate and media mogul Daniel Clamp (John Glover), a megalomaniac billionaire who is one part Donald Trump, one part Ted Turner. (The loudspeakers in his building announce the showing on his cable network of "Casablanca," in a new colorized version with "a happier ending.")

Billy (Zack Galligan) and Kate (Phoebe Cates) now work for Clamp, whose empire is threatened when the cuddly Mogwai Gizmo once again reproduces a monster brood. The growing gremlin army (wonderfully designed by Rick Baker) wreaks utter havoc in the high-tech temple of corporate greed, allowing Dante and Haas the chance to wage merry war on pop culture. They take pot shots at "Rambo," "Batman," Busby Berkeley, "The Phantom of the Opera" and critics who didn't like the original "Gremlins." (There's a great gonzo moment when the creatures take over the projection of this movie, and replace it with an old black-and-white nudist film). "Gremlins 2" has its horror-movie side, but the grisly is definitely subordinate to the gags. Only a snob could resist such a generous level of lunacy.

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