It’s once again the time of year where we get an opportunity to see some of the video essays students have produced for the Practical Criticism module. This one is entitled: ‘GREMLINS 2: THE ANTI SEQUEL’ and is an excellent demonstration of how Gremlins 2 deviates from the norms expected of sequels, in that it questions the need for them, critiques the financial imperatives of their undertaking, and subverts the audience’s expected pleasures from them.
When Joe Dante was convinced by Warner Bros. to make Gremlins 2, it was due to the fact he was promised he could do anything he wanted. Dante took this and ran with it, creating a sequel that challenged the very worth and necessity of sequels. This video essay seeks to explore some of the ways in which the film does this, through its relationship with the original Gremlins, as well as its relationship to sequels as they’re commonly understood. Utilising the writing of Stuart Henderson and Thomas Schatz it first explores the forms that sequels take, followed by the industry incentives behind them, then going on to approach how Gremlins 2 interacts with both these facets of the sequel. I implicitly engage with the fan culture around Gremlins 2 through the conscious choice to include modern-day artefacts about it, both by fans in the case of the Chapo Trap House interview as well as wider cultural perception as seen in the Key & Peele sketch. Gremlins 2 is a sequel about the nature of sequels, how they are produced, how they can stifle creativity, and whether or not they are even necessary in the first place. Dante was fortunate to have complete control over his project, and he used that ability to the fullest to produce the opposite of what any studio executive wanted to see from a Gremlins sequel.