DECEMBER 3, 2007
Man, it’s always a bummer when you see a movie again as an adult that you liked as a kid and it turns out to be a lot less fun and awesome than you remember. Critters is one such movie. I really liked it as a kid, but for some reason forgot to ever watch it again after 1988 or so. So I put it in for one of those “Been Too Long” HMAD picks, and walked away disappointed.
That’s not to say the movie is bad. Not at all. The spaceships are cheesy as hell, but well integrated with the backgrounds for the most part (looks like they ran out of money before doing the final shot of the bounty hunter ship returning to space), and the monster effects are terrific throughout. But it’s just not as fun/funny as it could have been (or as I remember it), and it’s pretty dated as well.
For starters, it takes far too long to get going. By the 40 minute mark, the critters have only killed one superfluous guy. Look, Billy Zane plays a pretty boy with a ponytail, so we need to see him killed a lot sooner than almost an hour in! And why cast the great M. Emmett Walsh in a film if you’re going to forget all about him for almost an hour? Also, we are shown several town locals, but none of them get killed. Since the kill scenes are PG-13 anyway, why not kill a few more of them in standalone sequences? It’s not like it costs that much extra money to show a Crite jump out and snarl, then cut to a shadow of the person being killed or whatever. If memory serves, Critters 2 had more attacks, so I guess the producers agreed. But still, if you’re only dealing with a family of four for most of the time, a lot of the suspense is gone, because you know none of them are going to die. Which is why the similarly comedic Tremors worked so well – they had a motley group of folks all scattered about the town. Even though the film had a relatively low body count in the end, you never felt anyone besides Kevin Bacon and his love interest were truly safe.
I still got a few laughs out of it though. The one old lady’s comment about the bounty hunters being from Los Angeles was hilarious, and I also enjoyed the little ET gag (made even funnier by the fact that Universal obviously wouldn’t allow a REAL likeness so they used the crappiest knockoff toy ever):
And why does that one bounty hunter guy keep changing his face? And why does the Director of Photograpy credit appear over a still image???
What say you?