Critters 3 (1991)

critters3_videoposter

I ended my review of Critters 2: the Main Course by noting how quickly these deadly, yet insanely lovable space monsters could procreate. Well, their swiftness isn’t just limited to their loins… Critters 3 sees the Crites still holding out on Earth, only this time they’ve stopped descrecrating religious holidays, and have jumped to the big city. A change in locale that took the Leprechaun series five films to perfect! In life as in love, these aliens move fast.

Critters 3 - Critters Up Close and Personal

AWESOME FACT #1!: impress your friends by telling them that Leonardo DiCaprio’s first line ever put to film involved a curse word! “Hey, don’t go down there kid; there’s all kinds of wild animals and shit.” He may have the inflated head of a baby, but he also has the mouth of a sailor!

That’s what’s so great about these mid-80s PG-13 films; they knew they could get away with (usually) two curse words. A “shit” and a “fuck,” provided the “fuck” didn’t refer to the sex act. So they made sure to drop one right off the bat, to wake the audience up. Frankly, no one cares about this unnamed family or their problems. A widower dad pining for two years over his dead wife. Blah.

I post this here just to show how tough it is to write these reviews when you're a moron.  This scene made me smile enough to note its time down for a time-capture, but I can't think of why.  Most likely due to this kid's boss shirt.

I post this here just to show how tough it is to write these reviews when you’re a moron. This scene made me smile enough to note its time down for a time-capture, but I can’t think of why. Most likely due to this kid’s boss shirt.

So the “shit” flies out to grab everyone’s attention. Hey kids, there’s murderous mutant hedgehogs ahead! Really! while making the parents in the audience uncomfortable enough to make them start questioning their decision to buy Lil Tommy a ticket; without being strong enough to force an instant retreat.

Hell, it seems like director Kristine Peterson was just antagonizing the censors with this one. Five minutes after the first curse, Joshua (DiCaprio) pops out a “bullshit!” The (other) kids say “crap,” their father a “goddammit,” and daughter Annie (Aimee Brooks) caps off the exercise with “what a crock.” And every child in the audience knows what word ends that phrase.

Between the language and the subtle child molestation references, this film is light-years beyond Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in terms of questionable content.

Critters 3 - Crite Wearing a Bra

Besides that, Critters 3 is frontloaded with a staggering amount of useless material. We have Clifford (John Calvin), the aforementioned widower who can’t pull himself out of a crippling depression. There’s Marcia (Katherine Cortez), a lesbian phone worker who plays foil to Frank (Geoffrey Blake); a slum tenement building’s maintenance man who’s secretly destroying things so the slumlord can collect insurance insurance money.

Got all that?

Good, ‘cuz you ain’t gonna need it.

Critters 3 - Beautiful Crites

All this just serves as “normal story dressing,” script-filler if you will, until the Crites make their way into the tenement building. Which is where the fun begins. Remember how great it was watching the bounty hunters blow up the Brown family’s farmhouse with their blasters in the first Critters? Now imagine 10 stories of room-destroying action!

As if Peterson and company had heard the “Critters is a Gremlins rip-off” criticisms, and so decided to respond by ripping off Troll instead! And it works!

Critters 2 failed largely due to the decision to transfer the Crites from inside a dark barn to outside the town of Grover’s Bend; in broad daylight. Placing the Crites back into a confined slum allows the tiny bastards to do what they do best: roll around in the dark while shooting poisonous, paralysis-inducing, quills.

AWESOME FACT #2!: Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning iconic opening death scene, the one where a hitchhiker gets a lit flare shoved into his mouth, actually premiered here; when a Crite swallows one!

Critters 3 - before there was %22found footage%22

Critters 3 - Interrupting the Critters' Soaps

Critters 3 - Red Room

Rather than abandon Critters 2’s Easter Bunny-eating levity though, Critters 3 manages to meld the humor with its more horrifying moments. Marcia finds Joshua’s slumlord father’s corpse being gnawed upon by Crites in a room illuminated by a roadflare’s blood-red glare; that’s horrifying. Jump forward a few scenes, and Marcia’s now hanging upside down, strung up by her foot, trying madly to swing her body into a phone booth. That’s the type of farcical, slapstick humor straight out of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge.

The credits only says the Crites’ design was created by the Chiodo Brothers; whether they had a hand in guiding the series after their initial contribution is unknown. But the tone here, intentional or not, does bear a certain Killer Klowns from Outer Space touch.

Critters 3 - High Wire Stunt Acting

This levity never flags throughout the film. The ending having dim-witted farmhand turned intergalactic bounty hunter Charlie (Don Keith Opper) piecing together Ug’s old blaster to “finish off” the Crites for a third time. Naturally Charlie fails (again), as this film, and its sequel, Critters 4, were filmed back-to-back. Ug (Terrence Mann) makes a cameo appearance at the end, telling Charlie not to destroy the final Crite eggs, as they’re the last of the species or something.

Apparently this “film a crappy movie and its sequel at the same time” was a popular motif in early-to-mid 90s straight to video horror franchises, as Puppet Master pulled the same trick a year after Critters 4 was released.

—Need to Know More About the Crite Invasion?—

Critters

Critters 2: the Main Course

Critters 4

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