Monday, April 13, 2015

Review: Critters 3 (1991)

Welcome back to the feeding trough, my friends and accomplices! As I said last time, we're going to delve into the entire Critters series. This means that today we're leaving behind the joyful celebration of Easter and all the chocolate eggs and bunnies associated with it. Yes, I know you probably still have some Easter candy left over, but we don't need that today as this film is quite different from our last.

Much like how the true meaning of Easter is much different than what you're taught in Sunday school.

It doesn't take place in Grover's Bend or really have any country folks getting gnawed on by spiny little alien varmints. No, this time it involves the Crites getting loose in the city. Well, maybe not the city so much as an apartment building. But fear not! There is hope for the fans as Don Keith Opper is here to save the day. Yes, he's back to play Charlie once again, making me care about this movie regardless of quality. Oh, and there's some young kid in there too from Growing Pains.

Apparently he got famous & did other movies but has still never won an Oscar.
That's right, Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the stars in this film and I envy him so much for getting to live the dream of every young horror fan. He got to hang out with monsters and Don Keith Opper. Okay, maybe the last one is more my dream than everyone's, but it's still pretty cool. But does this one hold up to the fun spirit of the previous two? Let's find out together, shall we?

It's definitely going to have trouble topping this scene.
Our film opens on a father and his kids in their RV, driving happily down the road before getting a flat tire, forcing them to pull into a rest area to fix it. While there the father and daughter have some serious talk about the mother, who seems to have had a bad case of "death for dramatic effect", resulting in the cliche of the father not wanting to talk about it and the daughter getting frustrated and storming off. Meanwhile, her younger brother loses his frisbee near a rather steep-ish drop and our young Leo comes to the rescue, saving him from the possible man-eating badgers down below if he were to fall. Annine (the sister) initially distrusts him, but she soon warms up as they all play together before eventually losing the flying disc in the woods. We get a shot of the kid clearly seeing the camera man slowly pan in on him in a sinister manner (although I'm sure it's meant to be a Crite watching him from below). And we get to see our hero make his grand entrance.

This is an image you won't soon forget. Charlie pirouetting out of hole while holding a hot pink frisbee.
This startles the kids a bit as Charlie then dresses them down a bit, telling them they shouldn't be playing around down there. He then regales them with a summary of the previous two films, which our young Leo scoffs entirely at as being the ramblings of a crazy guy. It seems Charlie is out in these woods looking for some leftover Crites, which explains why he's not in Grover's Bend. It also makes me wonder...isn't he supposed to be the sheriff there? Yeah, that happened. Why doesn't he just show them his badge and tell them this place is off-limits? Ah well, I can't stay mad at Charlie just because the writer forgot a plot point that could make it seem less like Charlie is a nut in the woods and more like a professional. Charlie gives the little brother, Johnny, the same device the other hunters gave to Brad previously, telling him to use it if he ever runs afoul of some Crites. Of course, adults show up to get the kids, thinking the worst of Charlie, and the story leaves this setting for the more urban sprawl of the city.

Me? I'm not entirely sure we didn't just wander into the movie Troll. Harry Potter is in there dancing somewhere.
In the apartment building we are introduced to Frank (the seedy guido super who is clearly running people out), Marcia (the tough biker lady who has a thing for the siblings' father), Rosie (a rather large woman who feels like every fat lady joke was combined into one), and Mr. and Mrs. Menges (the nice elderly couple who help watch the kids while the father is away at his job). One tenant is seen moving out, who is a guy named...Mario. He's short, chubby, and has facial hair.

His brother Luigi was unavailable to help him move.
Setting that all aside, we see the plot play out a bit as we get things set up for our Crites to butcher the tenants. And, as fate would have it, the Crite from the woods earlier actually laid it's eggs under the RV, thus allowing a decent amount of carnivourous critters to be loosed upon the hapless residents. Frank ends up on the menu first, as he fights them alone in the basement. Couldn't happen to a nicer grease-ball. The rest of the building gets pulled into the fray when Rosie gets attacked as she goes to do her laundry. Annie and her dad show up to save her, but they both end up wounded and poisoned with quills. Lucky for them, Marcia shows up to help them escape toothy death while giving a Crite some serious digestive issues. .Meanwhile, the asshole landlord shows up with his stepson soon, and we immediately notice that they're both very familiar as it's our young Mr. DiCaprio with his horrible father figure towing him along to run people out of their homes. They end up arguing, resulting in Leo wishing his dad was dead, slamming a door. This results in the Crites in the apartment turning around and saying hello.

"Sweet! The take-out is here!"

He gets eaten, which surprises no one. Leo ends up with the rest of the group, who are all holed in the Menges' apartment. And Mr. Menges is apparently the only expert they have on the Crites, being that he is obsessed with aliens and has articles on the Grover's Bend incidents. You may also notice that I am not referring to Leo's character, which is because I refuse to use that name he is given in reference to anything that isn't Martin Short as a man-child or a big red dog who can flood entire towns when he pisses. Anyway, they all come together, trying to form a plan. It's decided they'll climb to the roof, as the building is now on fire and full of bitey things. Marcia tries to use her technical skills to save the day, but ends up failing. It seems like everyone's only hope is Annie making a run for help, which would undoubtedly end in her dying before she got to enjoy awkward sex. But then Charlie happens.

All the Crites immediately know they're fucked.
Yes, our wayward hero finally arrives, as Johnny activated the thing he gave him. He starts making short work of the Crites and is able to save everyone. Rosie even develops a crush on him, because Opper really is quite handsome. But the film isn't over, as Charlie returns inside the smouldering building in search of Crite eggs. He finds the two remaining eggs but is interrupted by the set-up for the sequel to this film. A capsule from the intergalactic council (his bosses) shows up demanding that he put the eggs inside, as they are the last living Crites in the universe. I'm not so sure, myself. Creatures like these have a tendency of popping up in the darnedest of places. But, since the message is from his buddy Ug, he listens. Thus we are left to see what happens in the next film.

"A cliffhanger ending...? Really?"
Yep, they seriously pulled that shit on us. As a kid though, it worked on me. I wanted to know what happened next and I eagerly awaited the next film, which came a year later. It used a theme that made a lot more sense here than it did when the Leprechaun series did the same thing. No, not rap. Never rap. Everyone knows that Crites prefer classic tunes of a different variety. As dar as this film goes, what's the verdict?

"Don't keep us in suspense!"
Really, I like it. And that's not childhood bias speaking. I really enjoyed it, even though a lot of the movie is so incredibly goofy. The truth is, as I said previously, this movie was meant to be silly. It's not a serious horror film, it's a take off of Gremlins, giving us evil little creatures who are out to kill people and run amok. Next to Gremlins, this series actually stands up as they only thing that gets close to its level of entertainment. While it doesn't quite work as well when the Gremlins hit the big city, it's still a fun little B-movie sequel and follows the previous movies well. Having said that, I do hate the cliffhanger ending. I'm not against the idea of those, but in the case of this one it is painfully obvious that there's no real mystery to what is happening next. So, join me next time as we watch the aliens known as the Crites...got to space. At least Charlie will be there to hold our hands. Later days, bleeders.

"That ending was such bullshit...I'm calling my agent."

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