Gremlins 2: The New Batch is an insane movie. Rather than produce a safe and predictable sequel to his 1984 comedy horror, director Joe Dante decided to throw every wacky idea he could think of into a 106-minute live-action cartoon that features Hulk Hogan speaking directly into camera, Leonard Maltin being murdered while giving the original film a bad review, and a crowd of Gremlins singing “New York, New York” at the film’s climax. It’s this level of insanity that inspired the Key & Peele sketch imagining the yes-to-everything writing process behind the scenes:
But Gremlins 2 has also inspired a great deal of academic thought. At least, that’s the case over at the Institute For Gremlins 2 Studies, a very real and actual institute that seems to be currently confined to a single Twitter account. The directors of the institute spend their days examining Gremlins 2 as a cultural artifact and mining it for insights into postmodern philosophy, gender studies, and the Situationist theory of the spectacle. They also workshop ideas for fun new Gremlin concepts.
Recently, the Institute’s anonymous founder sat down for an interview with Mel to discuss their process of over-intellectualizing this very silly movie. “I think that Gremlins 2 resonates so strongly because the contemporary viewer can identify with the characters, who find themselves living in an over-the-top parody of past events,” said the founder, referring the stark contrast between the by-the-numbers horror of the first Gremlins and the balls-to-the-wall lunacy of the sequel.
The founder also discussed how the Gremlins’ ability to reproduce asexually only highlights the fact that gender is performative, a concept well-explored by queer theorists like Judith Butler. Of course, Gremlins 2 sees the introduction of the sole exception to this genderless existence, the aggressively female Greta Gremlin.
“She is not just the only female Gremlin, but the only sexual Gremlin,” the founder tells Mel. “Of course, her gender is performative, but because there are no other Gremlins who share her desires, she must look to a human for fulfillment.”
So, if you’ve always thought your favorite late-80s horror comedy could use a bit more of Michel Foucault’s biopolitical philosophy, the Institute has got you covered. Read the full interview here, which includes the only existing Brechtian reading of a Hulk Hogan cameo.