Film Review: Critters Attack! (2019)

Also known as: Critters 5 (working title)
Release Date: July 13th, 2019 (Fantasia International Film Festival)
Directed by: Bobby Miller
Written by: Scott Lobdell
Based on: Critters by Stephen Herek, Domonic Muir, Don Keith Opper
Music by: Russ Howard III
Cast: Tashiana Washington, Dee Wallace, Jaeden Noel, Jack Fulton, Ava Preston, Leon Clingman, Vash Singh, Steve Blum (voice)

Blue Ribbon Content, New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. Television, 89 Minutes

Review:

“Taste my steel, you rat bastards. I have the best blades in the business.” – Chef Loong

So we don’t get any new Critters movies for two and a half decades but in the same year, we get a television show and a movie. Weirdly, the two aren’t related so I’m not sure if they’re both alternative sequels or alternative reboots. Or maybe one is a sequel and one is a reboot… I don’t know.

Does it really matter, though?

At their core, these are just movies about little carnivorous alien creatures that show up in small towns and eat the people, as well as dogs, cats, rats and anything that is meat or junk food.

Like the recent television show, this outing was pretty bad. I guess the main character was okay and it was neat seeing Dee Wallace return but none of that was enough to carry this dud.

The film also introduces us to a “good” Crite, who is trying to help the humans kill her “evil” brethren. I guess she’s sort of like what Gizmo was to the Gremlins.

For the most part, the film looks and feels cheap. I’d say that the alien Crites are still amusing and I much prefer them to be like they are in this film than in the television show, as they were regular conversationalists in that. Also, this isn’t derailed by a bizarre storyline that sees one of its main characters find out that they are some sort of human/Crite hybrid.

Still, this was worse than the show. It wasn’t as entertaining and maybe the show’s batshit craziness is what made it resonate with me a bit more. While that sounds contradictory to my statement about the bonkers addition of the human/Crite hybrid, at least that insanity kept my attention because my baffling bewilderment shifted into overdrive.

Plus, the show had Gilbert Gottfried and the voice of Stephen Merchant, which gives it some extra brownie points when compared to this pretty forgettable flick.

I mean, how do you not make a better film than Critters 3 or 4 in your sleep?

Rating: 3.5/10
Pairs well with: the Critters movies, as well as anything featuring Gremlins, Ghoulies or Munchies.

TV Review: Critters: A New Binge (2019)

Original Run: March 21st, 2019 – current
Created by: Al Kaplan, Jon Kaplan, Jordan Rubin
Directed by: Jordan Rubin
Written by: Al Kaplan, Jon Kaplan, Jordan Rubin
Based on: Critters by Stephen Herek, Domonic Muir, Don Keith Opper
Music by: Al Kaplan, Jon Kaplan
Cast: Joey Morgan, Stephi Chin-Salvo, Bzhaun Rhoden, Kirsten Robek, Christian Sloan, Gilbert Gottfried, Stephen Merchant (voice)

Abominable Pictures, Blue Ribbon Content, Shudder, 8 Episodes (so far), 8-11 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

I owned all of the Critters movies on VHS. Even though the third and fourth installments to the series were pretty terrible, the films have always amused me. So obviously, I was pretty excited to check this out, even though I didn’t know of its existence until about a month ago.

Sadly, this also isn’t great. It’s not too terrible but it misses the mark quite a bit and I don’t think that Critters has a mark that should be that hard to hit. Just have carnivorous aliens tear through human meat, toss in a bit of humor and let it roll.

The real problem is that this was so low budget that it felt like a fan film and if I’m being honest, I’ve seen fan films do much more with even less money. Also, the Crites looked too big and the animatronics weren’t as good as the films made 20-30 years ago.

Also, why was this a TV show and not just a movie? I was excited, thinking that we’d get 10-13 half hour episodes but what we got were 8 episodes that clock in between 8 to 11 minutes with 2 of those minutes being credits at the end. If you add up the running time of this show, it has less minutes than any of the four previous films. Even though I already subscribe to Shudder, I felt cheated.

This show is batshit crazy and while I like that the Crites get to say more thanks to the magic of subtitles, the humor is absurdist to the point of being almost unsalvageable. Some of the gags were a bit funny but a lot of it came off as cringe. The big plot twist involving the fat kid’s insatiable appetite was so far out of left field that it pulled me out of the show, made me audibly moan and then I just felt like I had to power through the last few episodes just to wrap it up and move on.

I was surprised to see Gilbert Gottfried in this and he was probably the most enjoyable thing in the series but they kill him off rather quickly and if Gilbert Gottfried is your secret weapon, you need to go back to Bass Pro and buy a better one.

I don’t hate this but I didn’t really enjoy it and about halfway through, it felt like a chore to finish, despite how short it was.

Will I watch a second season? I don’t know. Ask me in a year if one actually gets made.

Rating: 4.5/10
Pairs well with: the Critters movies, as well as anything featuring Gremlins, Ghoulies or Munchies.

Film Review: The ‘Critters’ Film Series (1986-1992)

As a kid, I used to love watching the first two Critters films over and over. And since I recently reviewed the Gremlins series, I thought I’d get reacquainted with its best knockoff.

Critters (1986):

Release Date: April 11th, 1986
Directed by: Stephen Herek
Written by: Stephen Herek, Domonic Muir, Don Keith Opper
Music by: David Newman
Cast: Dee Wallace, M. Emmet Walsh, Billy “Green” Bush, Scott Grimes, Nadine Van der Velde, Don Keith Opper, Billy Zane, Terrence Mann

New Line Cinema, 85 Minutes

critters-1Review:

After producing a massive hit with A Nightmare On Elm Street, New Line Cinema joined several other studios in trying to make their own copycat of 1984’s Gremlins. It was a similar trend to what happened after Jaws came out in the 70s and it inspired a ton of copycats through the rest of the decade.

Critters is probably the best of the Gremlins wannabes. The main reason, is that it is still its own film with its own identity. Sure, the two pictures share similarities but Critters is darker, more ferocious and has that great low-budget 80s horror vibe to it. Plus, it establishes the creatures as vicious aliens and brings in two cool alien bounty hunters.

While, from a critical standpoint, Critters is considered the best of its franchise. I do feel that the second one edges it out a bit, which I will explain when I get to that one.

This film is still pretty fantastic though. It is comical, at times, but it does seem like the most serious of the movies. Overall, it might also be the most fun.

Dee Wallace, who was the queen of 80s horror, plays the mom. She doesn’t get as dirty as she has gotten in other films but it is always great to see her embracing the genre of horror. Scott Grimes plays the son, who would also reprise his role in the sequel. Then you have a small part by Billy Zane, before he was well-known.

Most importantly, the film introduces us to Charlie (played by Don Opper) and Ug (played by Terrence Mann). They would go on to be in all four of the films in the series, playing a pair of bounty hunters. Granted, Charlie is a drunk Earthling buffoon in the first movie but he would evolve into a sober bad ass buffoon over time.

The first movie still plays pretty well. The effects are good for the time and mostly hold up. I can see why this is considered the best of the series but let me get into the second picture and why I prefer it.

Rating: 7/10

Critters 2: The Main Course (1988):

Release Date: April 29th, 1988
Directed by: Mick Garris
Written by: David Twohy, Mick Garris
Music by: Nicholas Pike
Cast: Scott Grimes, Don Keith Opper, Terrence Mann, Liane Curtis, Barry Corbin, Tom Hodges, Sam Anderson

New Line Cinema, 85 Minutes

critters-2Review:

The reason I like this installment the best, is because it is a lot less confined than the others. The first film takes place primarily on a farm, the third film is mostly set in an urban apartment building while the fourth and final chapter is on a confined space station. Critters 2, on the other hand, encompasses an entire small town and the areas around it. And honestly, it just feels like it has the biggest budget. It utilized what little it had with maximum effects. Plus you get the giant Critters ball at the end of the film, which was just really cool when I was a young kid.

The film also features Charlie as an actual bounty hunter. In fact, it features the bounty hunters the most and they are the coolest characters in the series, especially Ug. We are then introduced to Lee, a third bounty hunter, who takes the form of a nude Playboy Playmate. Granted, she acquires clothes after her introduction. But it was great seeing amazing breasts in a PG-13 movie when I was nine.

The film brings back Scott Grimes from the original. It also adds in Liane Curtis, who I was crushing on, back in the day. Barry Corbin joins the cast as the sheriff and I’ve always been a fan of his work. Sam Anderson, who you may know from a slew of television appearances, has a small role as Liane Curtis’ overprotective father.

Critters 2 is the quintessential Critters movie. It has everything you would want from one of these pictures. Although, a bit more gore would have been better. While there are more creatures and more overall destruction, it seriously lacks in showing the audience anything graphic. You get a few bones and skeletons but that is the gist of it.

Rating: 7/10

Critters 3 (1991):

Release Date: December 11th, 1991
Directed by: Kristine Peterson
Written by: David J. Schow, Rupert Harvey, Barry Opper
Music by: David C. Williams
Cast: Aimee Brooks, John Calvin, Katherine Cortez, Leonardo DiCaprio, Geoffrey Blake, Frances Bay, Don Keith Opper, Terrence Mann

New Line Home Video, 85 Minutes

critters-3Review:

Critters 3 is the worst of the films.

While it does feature a very young Leonardo DiCaprio, he isn’t the main character and he has little to do other than hating his dork stepfather and being a romantic interest of the teen girl lead.

Most of the characters in this one are pretty unlikable. Especially Frank. Frank is just an awful and annoying human being. I cherished his death.

Although, Frances Bay’s character was cool. She has always been a great character actor and her meat cleaving bad ass grandma was fun to watch.

This is just a pretty weak film. It doesn’t serve much purpose other than trying to make money without spending any. The creatures weren’t really funny anymore and everything felt like a rehash of things we’ve already seen in the other movies.

And nearly everyone survives, which is a big failure for a movie series that prided itself on eating people.

Rating: 4/10

Critters 4 (1992):

Release Date: October 14th, 1992
Directed by: Rupert Harvey
Written by: David J. Schow, Joseph Lyle, Rupert Harvey, Barry Opper
Music by: Peter Manning Robinson
Cast: Don Keith Opper, Terrence Mann, Paul Whitthorne, Angela Bassett, Andres Hove, Eric Da Re, Brad Dourif, Martine Beswick (voice)

New Line Home Video, 105 Minutes

critters-4Review:

Critters 4 is a step above Critters 3 but not by much.

It is the ugliest film in the series as it utilizes dark and dreary space station sets. Everything in this movie looks 90s and not like something that should represent the 2040s, when it takes place.

The sets look like every other generic horror movie spaceship set of the era. Everything is dark and back lit. The computer screens look outdated, even for the 90s. Nothing about it is imaginative or cool. By comparison, it makes Jason X look like a science fiction masterpiece.

On a positive note, we are back to seeing these creatures devour everyone in sight. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of characters. Most of them die horrifically though.

We also get to see a young Angela Bassett, just before she found fame playing Tina Turner in the biopic What’s Love Got to Do With It. The film also stars Brad Dourif most known as the voice of Chucky in the Child’s Play movies and Grima Wormtongue in The Lord of the Rings films.

Strangely, Ug returns as the villain in this chapter. His turn to the darkside is never really explained and the opportunity to add depth to the story and the relationship between Ug and Charlie was wasted.

Critters 4 is just more of the same. Except it is all acted out on the ugliest sets in the series.

Rating: 4/10