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The Fur Flies

There are hundreds of the title creatures in Warner Bros.’ upcoming “Gremlins 2: The New Batch"--and, it seems, just about as many cameos. Among the notable humans to watch for: filmmaker Paul Bartel, Kenneth Tobey (star of the original “The Thing”), John Astin, Henry Gibson, Dick Butkus, Bubba Smith, Hulk Hogan and Leonard Maltin, playing himself.

Leonard Maltin?

He panned the the original “Gremlins” (1984)--only two out of four stars--when he reviewed it in his “TV Movies and Video Guide.” So director Joe Dante got his revenge by putting Maltin in “The New Batch”: Dante has his malevolent creatures pay Maltin an unpleasant surprise visit while he’s in a TV studio reviewing the original film.

Maltin, a real-life film correspondent for “Entertainment Tonight,” learned his lesson. He’s much kinder on the sequel.

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“I was delighted to find I liked it a lot more than the original,” he says, amused at being asked. “It’s more clever--and it’s funnier. I’m glad that I’m in a better movie.”

And his performance? “Oh, gosh, I have no way of judging. Like anyone else who’s ever made a screen debut, I felt scared to death.”

Maltin and the new batch of gremlins will arrive at more than 2,000 theaters on Friday, squaring off against “Dick Tracy.”


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