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This is the third instalment of the Critters franchise, made in 1991, three years after the second film.
This third film takes the Critters story to a new level and moves away from the previous farm and town setting that the first two films used to link the story. What the director and writers have tried to do with this, is give the franchise a new lease of life by creating a new plot with a completely different setting and characters, but still utilising the whole fierce alien creature horror.
In a way, I think they sort of managed to pull this off. If they had tried to keep the same setting and keep the story going with the Brown family, the film would have just seemed tired and totally unoriginal. What they did, was to create this story and have it carry directly on to the fourth, almost given us two sets of Critters stories with their own sequels.
One thing they actually did with this film was to make it back to back with the fourth instalment. Whether that was to save costs I really don't know, but it did seem like they had hardly any of the budget for this that they had for the first and second instalments.
The only thing that they did decide to keep running throughout the whole franchise is the character of Charlie, the clumsy drunk, turned clumsy bounty hunter, turned clumsy rundown, sort of drunk bounty hunter. It's with his character that our new film starts with.
The film starts quite sometime after Critters 2, with Charlie, left behind by his alien bounty hunter friend, convinced the Critters are still on earth and in hot pursuit of where he believes fresh eggs have been left.
Charlie tracks the Critters to a truck rest stop where he meets a family that have pulled over because of a flat tyre. After Charlie scaring the family by warning them about the Critters, the family change their wheel and continue on their journey home to their LA apartment block, without realising that a Critter has laid an egg under the truck. Charlie ends up killing this Critter without having that information and goes about believing he has caught all the Critters!
Leading on to the family getting home to their run down LA apartment block, the Critter eventually hatches and finds a new home in the apartment. After a short time, weird things begin to happen in the apartment, leading them to call out the cruel owner of the apartment block, giving us our first glance of the owner's son - Leonardo DiCaprio in his first movie role.
After a certain amount of deaths of many of the apartments residents, it becomes clear to all that they are actually under attack from strange deadly furry creatures, creatures that a couple of them remember being warned about earlier in the day.
As the night draws on, the residents begin a battle for survival, causing them all to band together and try and escape being eaten by the continually multiplying Critters by heading as far up in the building as possible.
I won't reveal anything about the end, as a lot of people probably have never watched this. You'll have to wait for my Critters 4 review to find out more.
Did I think this film was amazing? No.
Did I think it was as good as the first two? No.
But did I actually enjoy watching it? Yes.
Although this third instalment was not as good as the first two and it definitely didn't have the same budget, it was still kind of good in its own right. Let's face it, your not going to get an oscar nomination for a film about small deadly, but humorous, furry aliens that are constantly terrorising people and basically having fun whilst doing it. What you have to do with this film is take it for what it is, an 80's wannabe comedy creature horror. It has a weak plot, the acting is far from great and the special effects are no where near up to scratch, but for me, all that kind of adds to what makes this an enjoyable watch. It is silly, but it knows that, it doesn't try to be too serious, and it try's it's hardest just to make you laugh at gruesome scenes that other films would make you cringe at.
Obviously you read above that Leonardo DiCaprio is in this film, but don't let the fact that he is a leading actor now, fool you into believing he was always like that, because he wasn't. He was particularly bad in this film (which adds to its B-horror feel) and that wasn't just because the script he had to work with was complete twaddle, I guess he just hammed things up as a way of gaining valuable experience on how not to act in future productions.
The rest of the cast aren't really well known, with nearly all of them coming from and only ever going on to be in TV productions. That fact actually also says a lot for the budget. I suppose looking at that, you really would have to give DiCaprio real credit for coming from this and going on to be as big as he is now.
What you have to do if you are going to watch this, is to in no way take it too seriously. Laugh at the Critters causing mayhem, laugh at the weak story, laugh at some of the bad acting and then just enjoy the cheesy comedy horror that it is.
I personally like the whole Critters franchise and I did enjoy watching this third one. I am a true fan of 80's horror, horror that also ran over into the 90's, and I enjoy all the B-horrors for what they are, harmless bits of fun.
You can pick this up for a matter of just a few pounds or you can get it in a collectors set with all four films for £6.99.
The running time of the film is not a bad 86 minutes but it doesn't have any special features.
Unfortunately this film was never nominated for any awards, unlike its predecessors.
The following is a sort of spoiler (maybe)
If you watch this and have seen the first two, you can expect to see an appearance from one of the bounty hunters 'Ug'. This is what sort of leads us to the fourth instalment.
Critters was one of the finest low budget movies of all time, and naturally, especially with it coming from New Line Cinema, it made enough money to warrant even lower budget sequels being unleashed. While Critters 2: The Main Course wasnt of the same calibre as the first movie, it was still a rather enjoyable little sequel that carried on the mythos of the original well.
However, as the 1990s rolled around, New Line decided to not make one good series entry with a decent budget, but instead make two cheaper movies back-to-back for the Direct-to-Video market. The first of which was 1991s Critters 3, which I believe also sported the subtitle of You Are What They Eat on its US releases.
This time directorial duties were handed to Kristine Peterson, whose only other significant credit to her name to date was the TV movie Kickboxer 5: Redemption, which actually managed something not even Albert Pyun could; it slaughtered a profitable low-budget franchise. Indeed, the only links to the first two movies came from series star Don Opper, whose role as the town-drunk turned intergalactic Bounty Hunter Charlie was even chopped into that of a supporting player, as well as his brother Barry penning the story and acting as a producer, not to mention the still applaud able effects of the Chiodo brothers on the Krites. The film wasnt even set in the same small town of Grovers Bend as the original, and instead would see the Krites progressing to an LA tower block(you know, not unlike the way Joe Dantes Gremlins 2: The New Batch went from a small town setting in the prequel to the big city only Critters 3 couldnt even entice Scott Grimes, hardly a huge name, back to reprise his role as main character), which is comically a good few states away from where any potential survivors should be.
In terms of cinematic significance, Critters 3 is probably most famous for being the movie debut for 17-Year-Old Leonardo DiCaprio, who would, of course, 6 years later appear in James Camerons Titanic and earn the resentment of anyone who heard that Celine Dion song for the next 8 years. Funny thing is, Id actually rather watch Critters 3, warts and all, over many of the movies he makes now.
This movie follows an unnamed family from a run-down tower block in LA. Teenage daughter Annie(Aimee Brooks - The Mangler Reborn) is our main protagonist, and is going through the usual teenager quarrels with her train-driver and widowed father Clifford(John Calvin - Ghost Warrior), about growing up, and him leaving her and her young brother Johnny(Christian and Joseph Cousins) for weeks on end. Anyway, on the way home from a trip to the Grand Canyon, they get a flat-tire and have to stop at a rest spot.
While Clifford is fixing the wheel, Johnny and Annie encounter a youngster named Josh(DiCaprio), who doesnt get on with his step-father Briggs(William Dennis Hunt - Dr. Giggles), and when they lose a Frisbee, retrieving it brings them to the attention of a certain Charlie McFadden(Opper), who was hiding underground or something. After giving them a spiel about monsters, he gives Johnny a crystal, warning him that when it glows green he is in trouble. As everyone goes back their separate ways, we learn that a Krite has somehow planted its eggs upon Cliffords pickup.
For those who have never seen, or are unaware of the concept of the Krites, they are the critters of the title, who were intergalactic-serial killers with voracious appetites who stole a space-ship and crashed on Earth, in a farm-house in Grovers Bend, Kansas. After 2 alien bounty hunters followed them, the Krites were destroyed. However, they left a stack of eggs, which were brought into contact with a heater 2 years later, seeing the entire town infested with the creatures. Cue the return of the bounty hunters, who had since recruited Charlie, and the Krites were thought to have been wiped out. The Krites themselves are around 1-Foot tall black rodent-things with rows of sharp teeth and the ability to roll into a ball that shoots semi-poisonous spikes at prey.
Upon reaching their home, we are introduced to all the residents, including the kindly elderly couple, Mr(Bill Zuckert - Ace Ventura: Pet Detective) and Mrs(Frances Bay - Arachnophobia) Menges, who take a keen interest in UFO stories, hard-as-nails phone company woman Marsha(Katherine Cortez - Sticky Fingers) and fat woman Rosalie(Diana Bellamy - Police Academy 2). As it turns out, the complex is owned by Briggs, who has the maintenance man, Frank(Geoffrey Blake - Contact), on his payroll to try and drive out all of the residents so he can sell it to make a shopping centre. His visit to see how proceedings are going turns out to coincide with the Krite eggs attached to the pickup hatch, and the Krites begin to wreak havoc in the tower, trapping the survivors in the Menges apartment. Naturally, a fire breaks out, doubling the threat posed to the remaining humans, only a cut-short phone-call to Grovers Bend from Mr.Menges could hold the key to their salvation, as Charlie comes to track down the Krites and finish off what he started.
Yeah, if you didnt pick up, Critters 3 really isnt a movie that really captured my imagination. The film lacks both of the key elements that made the first 2 films good, with its tame horror, seeing only 2 characters killed, and bad ones at that, and a script devoid of any of the wit or humour that characterised the first two movies, to see it replaced by the Krites eating beans and farting. The film seems to have taken steps to coming closer to a family friendly movie as well. I mean, I know Scott Grimes was a kid in the first movie, but the emphasis was on the familys struggle for survival, but Jesus, this just seems so cookie-cutter and painfully cliched. When the Brown family members got attacked by the Krites, it could be quite brutal, here the humans get a bit stoned when hit with the arrows and make jokes. The Krites never really seem to pose all that much of a threat to the humans, they are just kinda there, and a little dangerous, we dont want to take too much emphasis off of Annies struggle to become a woman in the family set up or her blossoming romance with Josh, who gets a moral lesson.
What is worse is that the movie, as most films shot back-to-back with their sequels, leaves off on cliffhanger, which is actually one of the movies most interesting points, meaning I was actually enticed into seeing Critters 4. I mean, the film isnt a complete failure, the premise of Krites in the city was the next logical step, after going from farm-house to town, but the film is just a big fat slab of wasted promise, with the folks involved seeming to be interested in doing nothing but trying to craft a money-making introduction to the fourth movie.
The fact they managed to entice Opper back to play Charlie helped the film a little, but then why bring him back to barely use him? With him being the only aspect of the plot other than the Krites themselves linking the film to the first 2, you would have assumed the film-makers would have utilised him a lot more, but then, you wouldnt have assumed New Line would have let a promising low-budget franchise go down the crapper as quickly as the series did.
The movies acting can be split into 2 categories; the passable and the staggeringly bad. Thankfully most of the cast falls into the former category, with Brooks having a certain innocent charm that carries her through her actings rough patches, and Opper clearly at least trying to keep the ship on course. On the other side of the coin, we have 2 fantastically bad performances, one from none other than Mr. DiCaprio, whose delivery of some of the (admittedly atrociously written) dialogue his character speaks literally reduced me to holding my sides with pain due to too much laughter. While Im hardly his biggest fan nowadays, I will admit DiCaprio has developed into a decent actor, and doesnt rely on his Teenage Girl-appeal to get by in movies, and watching Critters 3 will give you an indication of just how far he has come.
His thunder gets stolen by Geoffrey Blake anyway. Blake puts in what can only be described as one of the most diabolical, yet at the same time addictive performances ever. I actually found myself longing for him to appear and do what appeared to be some sort of Evil-Fonze from Happy Days act. The guys voice would be unbearable if it wasnt so damn funny, and he actually gives the movie its biggest purpose for viewing this could actually be the worst performance in cinema history. Worse even than any atrocity Orlando bloom has committed to the art.
In the films defence, the Chiodo brothers Krite effects are still impressive, with their puppets being made with what can be assumed to have been a healthy chunk of the films, admittedly meagre, budget, yet still looking excellent. While they dont appear to breath or drool like CGI could have created, these small animatronic puppets do convey a lot more character than Ive ever seen accomplished with CGI, and if I were making a movie, Id rather hand my effects budget over to guys like the Chiodos to handle any beastie effects than use cheap CGI, its just a shame some film-makers dont feel the same way.
The soundtrack for the movie is actually also quite good, composer David C. Williams has worked on some other genre movies, including killer-baboon flick Shakma and the movie adaptation of Dean Koontzs Phantoms, and while his score isnt by any means fantastic, it certainly does a job, and I was a fan of the music that played over the opening credits, which was almost a Critter-theme.
When all is said and done, Critters 3 is an incredibly disappointing picture that only series die-hards will take anything out of. I guess its fairly harmless for young horror fans, featuring sparse gore, and, as I said, only 2 deaths, and they were of bad characters. Personally I felt nothing but disappointment with the movie, which seems to be no more than a prolonged introduction to the equally weak Crtters 4, yet, at the same time, I cant bring myself to completely hate the picture. Possibly due to nostalgia(I first seen the movie upon its release in 1991), but I do still feel compelled to watch the movie when its shown on TV. Possibly for the appeal of laughing at the 2 shockingly bad performances, possibly because I love the Chiodo brothers effects work, I dont know, but much as I can see the movies glaring faults, I still cant help but feel it deserves a recommendation, although I stress only to those who can stomach B-Movies, and its in a context where you dont have to pay for it. I got it on DVD in a box-set with all 3 other movies which retailed for the price of a single new-release DVD, which I feel was worth the money for the first movie alone. If you get a similar package, Critters 3 wont exactly scar your mind, despite featuring the worst performance ever, it is certainly far from being the worst movie ever, and is even kinda watchable, at least by Direct-to-Video Horror-sequel standards. Needless to say the Critters 3 disc from the set is devoid of special features.
Review also posted on Epinions.com
Notable only for the presence of that disgustingly cute little monster that everyone wants to see get squished - yes, that's right, the young Leo DeCrapio! The humans are boring and pathetic characters - the Alien "Krites" are far more interesting. They have a Gremlins-style food fight, which shows that they can have fun - but these certainly are not the super-intelligent species they were originally meant to be. And the absense of the Bounty Hunter [Terence Mann] is terrible; his halfwit sidekick [Don Opper] is no replacement! Also, there is no tension; the humans have miraculous last-minute saves, as opposed to the gruesome deaths that are standard in such films [and which the characters so richly deserve].