Dungeon Classics #10: Gremlins 2: The New Batch

FilmDungeon’s Chief Editor JK sorts through the Dungeon’s DVD-collection to look for old cult favorites….

Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990, USA)

Director: Joe Dante
Cast: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, John Glover
Running Time: 106 mins.

According to IMDb, director Joe Dante prefers this movie to the first one. Understandably so. Obviously, the makers had a lot of fun coming up with the overload of mayhem the new batch of gremlins cause. This time Billy finds Gizmo in a hyper modern office building, but leaves him unattended. So of course, he gets wet and the gremlins make a glorious return, creating an incredible amount of damage to the building. Since most of the human characters are unsympathetic, it is easy to root for the monsters. It is only because of Gizmo, who Spielberg insisted must remain good in the first film (originally he was to turn into Stripe), that we find satisfaction in the gremlins’ ultimate demise. This fast-paced sequel does indeed offer plenty of the good stuff that made the first movie such a resounding success.

Dungeon Classics #9: Gremlins

FilmDungeon’s Chief Editor JK sorts through the Dungeon’s DVD-collection to look for old cult favorites….

Gremlins (1984, USA)

Director: Joe Dante
Cast: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton
Running Time: 106 mins.

Billy gets a very special Christmas present: A mogwai (Kantonese for monster or devil). A cute little furry thing called Gizmo. The problem is: keeping mogwais ain’t that easy. You get them wet, they spawn more mogwais. You feed them after midnight, they morph into the little monsters called gremlins. And if you drop one in a swimming pool…you get violence, terror, and mayhem during the Christmas season. This Spielberg-produced creature feature became understandably very popular. It has many memorable scenes, a super cute hero and a terrific villain in Stripe, leader of the monstrous gremlins. The movie has aged pretty well due to the excellent creature effects (all animatronics). And since it is family oriented, it remains a favorite for the holidays. Not just for eighties nostalgists like me.

Dungeon Classics #8: Shogun Assassin

FilmDungeon’s Chief Editor JK sorts through the Dungeon’s DVD-collection to look for old cult favorites….

Shogun Assassin (1980, Japan | USA)

Director: Robert Houston, Kenji Misumi
Cast: Tomisaburô Wakayama, Akihiro Tomikawa, Kayo Matsuo
Running Time: 85 mins.

In the early seventies, the classic manga Lone Wolf and Cub – about a hunted warrior who travels around with his young son – was first published and quickly adapted into a six-part film series. These are still the most entertaining samurai movies ever made, full of compelling stories in feudal Japan, astonishing violence and swordplay, and inspiring Buddhist wisdom. In 1980, American actor-director Robert Houston made the American version. For this he somewhat simplified the story, provided a now classic voice-over track (referenced in a.o. Kill Bill: Vol. 2 and the album Liquid Swords by Wu Tang Clan-member Genius GZA) and a typical eighties synthesizer soundtrack. Houston did a fine job editing together the best parts of the first and second (the best) movie. You couldn’t wish for a more action-packed samurai flick. And the final duel with the Masters of Death is truly unforgettable. If you want to get really dirty, I would advise the original series of six, but nothing wrong with this one for starters. It’s masterful.

Dungeon Classics #7: Last Man Standing

FilmDungeon’s Chief Editor JK sorts through the Dungeon’s DVD-collection to look for old cult favorites….

Last Man Standing (1996, USA)

Director: Walter Hill
Cast: Bruce Willis, Christopher Walken, David Patrick Kelly, Ned Eisenberg
Running Time: 101 mins.

The story of Last Man Standing – in which a mercenary arrives in a small town and hires himself to two rival gangs – has been told before. The original Yojimbo (1961) is a samurai movie. And the remake A Fistful of Dollars (1964) a spaghetti western. Both are absolute classics. Last Man Standing is not, but hey! This is still a cult favorite. In this version, the setting is a dusty Mexican bordertown during the prohibition where two gangs of violent bootleggers are fighting a bloody war. The rough gunslinging drifter Willis (named John Smith) arrives and starts playing both sides off against one another, earning himself a nice payday for his efforts. But the play is not without personal danger. Plus, he starts helping two dames who are hooked up with the gangs’ leaders. Pretty soon, the town turns into a bullet festival, so Smith can display his incredible gun skills. The heavy action that follows is perfectly directed by Hill. Add to this a fine selection of actors, including a creepy Christopher Walken, and you have an irresistible action movie on your hands.