MARCH 25, 2009
I don’t know if I ever saw Critters 2: The Main Course as a kid. I remember the giant ball of critters, as well as the scene with the old man in the barn, but nothing else (i.e. guy in Easter Bunny suit being killed - which I think would leave an imprint). Maybe I started watching it and fell asleep, and then caught the end some other time? I dunno, who cares.
It’s slightly better than the original, thanks to a faster pace and better effects. Unfortunately it’s also rather lackluster - the movie is essentially a REMAKE with a faster pace and better effects. The story is identical: the bounty hunters are in space, hunting, and then get sent to Earth to find “krites” in a small mid-western town, where they more or less join forces with Scott Grimes. I mean, its closest cinematic cousin would be Gremlins, and when you compare how much they upped the ante and really delivered a great sequel in that series, you can’t help but notice that Critters 2 just sort of goes through the motions. Even its biggest draw - the giant ball of critters - doesn’t really deliver. It rolls over a guy and then gets blown up. It’s only in the movie for about four minutes, most of that spent rolling along a road.
It also resembles Gremlins at times, particularly during the initial attack on the town (and by initial I mean, pretty much only). They wreak havoc with the phone and electric wires, then devour a diner. They even laugh at each others’ misfortunes and make bug eyes and such. The original may be called a Gremlins clone, but other than the idea of pint-sized creatures running about, it never really FELT like a ripoff; everything else was fairly unique. Not so much here.
But it’s certainly entertaining. Again, a guy in a bunny suit is killed (and better - he’s played by one of the annoying cops from Halloween 5 - always a pleasure to see him get mangled), and there are some nice injokes about other 80s movies. At one point, the shape-shifting bounty hunter begins to transform into Freddy Krueger before it is thwarted by Charlie, who convinces it to turn into Mick Garris’ wife instead (what an oddly Freudian moment here).
Speaking of Charlie, I love the scene when Scott Grimes (whose visit to the town is never adequately explained, and he leaves the instant the disaster is averted) looks at a photo of him and Charlie, because it’s just a still from the first movie:
It’s one thing for Halloween 4 to use a production still of Jamie Lee Curtis from the first movie, as she wasn’t around to take a real one with Danielle Harris, but both actors are in this movie, and despite Grimes’ aging, it wouldn’t have taken much effort to have them take a candid photo in front of a car or some generic thing like that to avoid snarky comments from sharp-eyed horror movie nerds 20 years later. On that note, the idea of stills getting used as photos in the sequel will probably go the way of the dodo, now that any old photos can be Photoshopped together to create whatever photo type the plot requires.
Speaking of actor availability, the M. Emmett Walsh role of Marv the sheriff was recast with Barry Corbin here. It’s weird how sometimes swapping out an actor doesn’t bug me (The Dark Knight, for example, and that’s coming from a man who once worshipped at the altar of Joey Potter), but here it did, despite the fact that I like Barry Corbin just fine. Not sure why they bothered making him the same guy; it would have been just as easy to say Corbin’s character was Walsh’s brother and had turned his back on the town after Marv was run out of town due to the events of the first movie. Or something.
I also love how we once again have a 1988 monster movie in which an old man and his dog are among the first victims. The Blob and Killer Klowns From Outer Space also used this time-honored device. Why not an old woman and her cat? And I say this as a cat owner. And a woman.
There’s also an odd moment in which a little girl (the same one from Shocker!) takes a chocolate bunny to bed with her (?) before awkwardly setting it down next to her heater. Naturally the damn thing melts, providing a cover for the hatched critter egg nearby. It’s pretty much the most inane thing I’ve ever seen in a movie.
The DVD’s only extra is the trailer, which gives away pretty much every good moment in the movie. Garris usually provides commentaries for his movies, so I’m not sure why New Line (who almost never released bare-bones DVDs) didn’t have him record one.
Also, one final note - this movie carries on the fine Critters tradition of having Titanic personnel involved. The first movie had Billy Zane, and just about everyone knows that Critters 3 was the first film with Leonardo DiCaprio. And wouldn’t you know it, Russell Carpenter (again! After Cameron’s Closet) shot this film. Maybe tomorrow, if I lose my job (the current rumor floating the halls at NBC), I will spend all day in my underwear, crying, while cross-referencing the crew members of Critters 4 to see if the odd connection comes full circle.
What say you?