The Ultra-Meta Gremlins 2 Novelization

I watched GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH for the first time a few weeks ago (I know, I know), and loved the self-referential scenes.  From Phoebe Cates’ Lincoln’s-Birthday-related “Why I Hate Christmas Speech” callback, to Leonard Martin’s criticism of the first GREMLINS movie, the numerous fourth-wall-breaking moments transformed what otherwise could have been a throwaway kids’ sequel into a film still worth discovering twenty years after the fact.

But in a film full of meta scenes, perhaps the most meta was the scene where Gremlins interrupt the movie to show clips from a cutie nudie flick, which forces Hulk Hogan to, well… see for yourself:

Shortly after I finished the film, I got online to see if I could find a copy of the novelization, which I vaguely remembered seeing classmates read when I was a kid.  I was curious to see how the novelist, David Bischoff, had handled the Hulk Hogan sequence.  After laying down $.75 + s/h (thanks and waiting a few days, I had my answer.  And it was better than I could have imagined:

That’s right, Brain Gremlin waylays the novelist and writes two pages of a Gremlins New Capitalist Democratic Nice Folks manifesto. Click on the two images for a bigger picture, or just check out the text below:

There. The novelizer, Mr. David Bischoff, Esq., has been successfully waylaid and is now tied up in the bathroom of his Los Angeles apartment.

Do not attempt to adjust your book.

We have control of the programming.

Please excuse the rudeness. You have previously known me as the “Gremlin that drank the brain fluid” – or, as Bischoff quaintly called me, Mr. Glasses. Believe it or not, in the screenplay, I am referred to as BRAIN GREMLIN.

I want to take this opportunity to talk to you about our philosophy toward life, so that we will not be misunderstood and branded as “monsters.”

Yes, but faithful novel readers, I do not intend to cheat you. In the movie presentation, Gremlins take over the movie theater (ah, what a delicious conceit – excellent, Joe – was that you?) and Hulk Hogan comes to the rescue.

I do believe that Kenneth Tobey of THE THING is somewhere in there.

However, let us deal with more intellectual matters.

In the great paradigm of anti-intellectualism that is the vast American untermenchen, there needs to be a seismic quake of thought, a veritable avalanche of anarchy, to wake you somnambulent beings from your couch-potato torpor.

May I offer you the services of we Gremlins. You may hereafter refer to us as the New Capitalist Democratic Nice Folks.

Already our numbers are spreading out from the heart of America to aid you in this endeavor and although you may be viewing this physically for the first time now (except for those lucky citizens of Kingston Falls who received a foreshadow some years ago) our intellectual forces have been at work for some time, albeit embodied in human form.

According to my contacts with our crypto-CD’s the Church of SubGenius it is generally not know, for instance, that the entirety of network television is programmed by proto-Capitalist Democrats.

However, the past is merely prologue, introduction, forward, with some long footnotes thrown in.

Our time is now!

So, my dear readers (oh, the few, the chosen literate who have been intelligent enough to purchase this volume) prepare for a New Age of the New Capitalist Demo -

Oh dear. Mr. Bischoff seems to have successfully axed his way out of the bathroom.

Methinks I need to fly and return this temporarily liberated keyboard to his suburb, urbane and witty prose -

Back I fly to the Clamp Cent…

Wow… those few paragraphs – which contain references to the novelization, the GREMLINS 2 screenplay, Kenneth Tobey and THE THING, Joe Dante, and the Church of SubGenius(!), among other things – are even more meta than the cinematic sequence they’re replacing. Kudos to Mr. David Bischoff, Esq. (apparently he’s a lawyer, as well as an author) for putting waaaay more effort into the novelization than he had to.

If you’re ready to join me in the New Capitalist Democratic Nice Folks party, sign up in the comments.

Micah :: Reel Distraction

11 thoughts on “The Ultra-Meta Gremlins 2 Novelization

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  4. rotch

    That scene even changed on the VHS, making it even more meta. It showed the tape not working and a scene with John Wayne. Crazy.

  5. micah Post author

    I forgot to mention the first paragraph of Chapter 20, right after the novelist gets his keyboard back:

    “Gremlins amok in a genetic lab! Boy, high concept time in Hollywood. Sounds like big b.o. And good box office too!”

    There are sequences like this throughout the book. Really fun stuff.

  6. Jeff_FOTD

    This is one of the reasons why I LOVE Gremlins 2!

    I read the book back in elementary school, saw the film in the theater on opening day, and have the movie on both VHS and DVD. It’s pretty awesome that they kept the “film break” sequence in all formats.

    The VHS contained yet another variation on this scene where the picture seemed to lose tracking (for those of you that remember the little tracking knob on the old players!) and become a little jumpy before ultimately stopping on a scrambled frame (much like the old PPV used to look if you didn’t buy the movie but tried to watch). The Gremlins then do static-filled hand puppets over the screen (the same ones from the Theater sequence), and the TV appears to flip through channels, including a news cast and what appears to be a war movie, before stopping on channel showing a cow being branded with a Gremlin face. You then realize that the Gremlins have invaded a John Wayne movie, and Wayne doesn’t seem to happy about it. He tells the Gremlins in his famous drawl that they need to leave or there’ll be trouble. The channel then flips to a quick scene from the original Warner cartoon, “Fallin’ Hare,” where Bugs Bunny encounters a Gremlin of his own (not a Dante-style Gremlin, though… This is the actual cartoon from 1943). The channel flips back, and we find the Grmelins in a western shoot-out with John Wayne. Wayne successfully takes down all the Gremlins (who die typical overly-exaggerated Western-style deaths), and tells us that he are safe to go back to the movie. The screen then changes to the same olt-tyle off-the-air title card (featuring a Gremlin of course), that is used elsewhere in the movie on TVs around the Clamp building when the channel is off-line, and the movie resumes.

    For those that have a copy of the DVD, you can actually see this sequence in one of the Easter Eggs included on the disc. Go to the “Special Features” menu, highlight the Gremlin hand in the bottom-right corner, and press the Enter/OK button.

    Personally, I like the Theater version the best. This is probably because seeing it happen in an actual packed movie theater as a 10-year-old kid was awesomely mind-blowing — and as an adult because there are so many cameos, self-referential nods, and obscure cinematic references going on there — but I still love the other versions as well.

    For those who are also interested in the novelization, or those that are just huge Gremlins fans, it’s also worth noting that the book was written based off of an earlier version of the film’s script, so there are some different/expanded versions of existing scenes and a few that didn’t make it to the final movie included here.

    Also — yes, I promise this will be the last bit — there is an AWESOME fan film that was made by a guy named Sacha Feiner that basically features his vision for an updated DVD-version of the sequence. I’m not going to bother describing it in detail here (it’s 7 minutes long!), but it features the Gremlins invading classic films like Batman, Indiana Jones, The Exorcist, and The Goonies (my personal favorite because it during the scene where the policeman accuses Chunk of prank calling about Gremlins!). Feiner is a professional movie maker, and he actually did this with puppets and computer work, and it looks just as good as any of the real versions.

    You can check it out here:

    Thanks for reminding me about the book Micah!


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