Musical Gremlins

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 April, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 April, 1995, 12:00am

THOSE Gremlins may be unpleasant, but they know how to party. Witness the scene in Joe Dante's Gremlins 2: The New Batch (Pearl, 9.30pm) when they gather for an impromptu rendering of a musical number inspired by the Kander and Ebb classic New York, New York.

Gremlins 2 is, more than anything, a not-so-gentle satire on life as we have come to know it. Dante made it not so much in pure fun, as he did the original, but as a reminder of the horrors of Ted Turner and Donald Trump. Much of the film is set in a hi-tech building called Clamp Centre.

The theme is emphasised by Clamp's urgency in tearing down New York landmarks (such as all of Chinatown) to build cold, soulless structures in their place.

It is echoed everywhere - from the Spice of Life lab, dedicated to creating new and improved life-forms, to the romantic sub-plot, in which Billy is tempted to throw away his long-term romance with Kate to further his career with Mr Clamp.

Dante still seems overly concerned with the improper use of microwave ovens. Scenes that worked so well in the first film are re-moulded here into superior successors.

Gremlins 2 - the story, by the way, sees Gizmo taken to a genetics lab where he is sprayed with water and multiplies - is indescribably silly, amusing and satirical.

It's full of sight gags and film in-jokes. Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates return in the roles they played in the original.

John Glover is enjoyable as the Trump-Turner type.

Watch out for a tongue-in-cheek performance from Christopher Lee. And stay with it throughout the closing credits.

PASSION, obsession and Timothy Dalton in a wig. It's all in The King's Whore (Pearl, 1.15am), together with the kind of opening half hour that might send you into a deep sleep.

But if you can stick with it, do. The King's Whore may be pretentious in places, but it is also picturesque.

Dalton is the King of Piedmont, northern Italy, and presides over a castle that knocks spots off Versailles. He falls heavily for the wife of his chamberlain (Stephanie Freiss), to the point that he neglects his duties and plunges Piedmont into war with France. This king is Lear with rouge; vain, glorious, naive and ultimately dead. But his death isn't the important thing. It's the way he dies that matters.

IT'S based on a true story and is not short on thrills, but 83 Hours Till Dawn (STAR Plus, 2.00am) could have done with a script. An heiress is kidnapped by a couple of professional psychopaths and incarcerated in a purpose-built tomb. Either they get the money, or she gets her air supply cut off.

TDM in Macau is showing The Outsiders (Channel 2, 8.45pm), the original bratpack film, made by Francis Ford Coppola in 1983 and starring Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez and Tom Cruise. We see life in 60s Oklahoma through the eyes of C Thomas Howell, who likes poetry and Gone With The Wind.

Author S E Hinton, on whose book the film is based, makes a cameo, as does the man with the vocal chords made from broken glass, Tom Waits.

FILMS on Cable Movie Channel: Powerful Four (9.00pm). Hong Kong in the 1950s and corruption is rife, so nothing much has changed. Four righteous police officers team up to fight underworld forces. The star-studded cast includes Hong Kong idols such as Danny Lee, Simon Yam, Ken Cheng Juk-sze and Lee Chi-hung.

I've Heard The Mermaids Singing (1.00am). A strange one this. Slight but impressive first feature from writer-director Patricia Rozema, with Sheila McCarthy as a young woman who has never really been successful at anything - she's organisationally impaired - but lands a job as assistant to an intellectual art gallery owner whom she comes to idolise. The story wanders, but redeems itself at the end.