An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

In the spirit of Halloween, perhaps it is best if a film is reviewed that is something that should be a Halloween classic.  This film is not a great film, nor all that good, but it isn’t terrible.  This is a film that is just funny.  It is a movie that the director, Stephen Herek, did not takes seriously at all.  This is one of those movies that is just so stupid that you have to laugh.  It seems almost to be like something Wes Craven did, where the director was able to mix amusing satire with a semi-serious plot-line.  The result – Critters

Now, the rest of this series got really stupid, but this first movie was actually pretty cute.  The effects were just adorable.  It was like watching Gremlins, except Gremlins was a really good movie.  The “Crites” as they are called, were basically just giant fuzzballs.  For real, these things method of moving is curling into a giant ball and rolling around.  These things seem so non-threatening, when you think about it.  Would you be afraid of a creature that was basically a puffball with teeth?

The film begins at an asteriod prison, where aliens (who speak perfect English, no accent, no odd way of saying things, nothing) are transporting some new prisoners.  These prisoners are called “Crites.”  Where they come from, why they are there, none of that is explained, you just have them being transported to the prison.  The Crites are described as violent little creatures, and the transport people had to kill a couple of them to keep them from going too crazy.

Once they get to the prison, the Crites somehow manage to blow up the container that is carrying them, and steal a ship.  These creatures are described as very intelligent, so it would have helped if there was some back-story, at all.  Something to explain where they came from, why they are so violent, anything.  This just threw them into action.  They steal a ship, with cliche bad special effects from the 80’s, and where do they run to?  Why Earth, of course!  Have you ever noticed how aliens always seem to want to come here?  At least with Predator, they explained why they came.  The explanation there was actually pretty good.  Here, you know nothing about the aliens, why they were imprisoned, why they are so violent, why they would go to Earth when the head of the prison even said that they had enough fuel to go pretty much anywhere they wanted to.  Why not go to your home-planet?  Why not find some seedy place to lay low for a while?  There are a million plot holes in this movie.  Really gaping plot-holes

Well, after the Crites escape, the prison immediately dispatches bounty hunters to get them back.  Why send bounty hunters?  If this is a prison, aren’t there police of some sort?  Is there no inter-galactic police force?  Actually, let’s stop question plot holes, because if we do that, we’ll be here all day.  The bounty hunters have heads that look like something stuffed into a giant green condom, and uniforms that look like a bad 80’s band.  That’s kind of convenient, actually, because one of them, transforms himself into an 80’s musician named Johnny Steele.  It’s worth mentioning that this same guy did almost all the other different faces that his counter-part took on, from a preacher, to a drunk, he did three faces, and all of them look the same.  It was just a different wig on each time.

The Crites land their ship in small-town America.  Of course, since that is where almost all aliens like to land.  There we meet small-town American family.  There is the father, Jay, his wife Helen, and two children, Brad and April.  Brad is a bit of a trouble-maker, and April is kind of a slut.  Helen is a good old-fashioned homemaker, and almost all of her dialogue in this movie is screaming at people.  Jay is a old-fashioned father who doesn’t get all these new generation things, and thinks all the boys his daughter is with (there are over six that are mentioned throughout the film) are bad news.

After the Crites land, they start to go on a rampant killing spree of all life that they find.  First, they kill off some cattle.  Then there is an unlucky sheriff’s deputy who is played by Ethan Phillips, we we all remember as Neelix from Star Trek: Voyager.  I will admit, it was kind of nice to watch him die.  Anyway, the Crites come to the small-town family and start wreaking havoc.  They cut off their power and phone lines (never explained how they know that the phone would be a threat to them), and start hunting the family down.  The Crites even have the fore-sight to know that the vehicles will be a problem.  How do they know so much about us?!  This makes no sense!

Anyway, as the Crites feed more and more, they grow bigger.  Well, one of them grows bigger.  The rest seem to always be the same size.  These creatures are able to shoot darts that have some kind of toxin that paralyzes the victims.  Of course, another plot-hole is how long this effect lasts.  Sometimes it is hours, other times it is just a few seconds.

The bounty hunters arrive and start their search for the Crites.  They go all through the town, raising hell with the indigenous earthlings (it is implied these people have violence problems, but like everything else, it is never explained).  After a while, they run into Brad, who selflessly goes out to try and get help.  Since the father is horribly wounded (with pink blood.  No BS, the blood is pink) and they are almost out of ammo for the shotgun they have, he sees no other option.  He runs into the two bounty hunters and leads them back to the house.  There, they use these giant guns they have to blow the place to pieces, caring not at all about the residents inside.  Considering how they were supposed to keep a low profile, this was a really bad way to do this.  Alien vs. Predator: Requiem did this better (a guilty pleasure of mine, I’ll admit), with the Predator killing anybody who saw him, and destroying all evidence of his presence.

After slaying the bulk of the Crites inside the house, the really big leader kidnaps April and takes her to their ship, as food for the long voyage.  If their ship was perfectly capable of flight, why did they stay?  If they knew somebody was after them, why not ditch?  Never mind, it is pointless to ask.  Brad goes chasing after them, and ends up blowing up their ship by throwing a molotov cocktail into it that lights a giant explosive he had on his person.  Of course, before their ship explodes, the Crites decide (for no reason) to blow up the family’s house.

The bounty hunters thank Brad for his help by giving him some kind of communicator, and actually had a cool line, “call me.”  Given the situation, that was kind of bad-ass.  And when they get back to their home, the communicator goes off, and it magically reassembles!  No reason, no explanation, and the bounty hunters leave.  All appears to be well, until you see that the Crites laid a few eggs, which are starting to hatch!

Yeah, it was a cheesy, very corny movie, which a lot of people thought was ripping off Gremlins.  However, as stupid as this movie was, it didn’t try and take itself seriously for a second.  For that reason, this isn’t a terrible film.  While not great in any significant way, this is an enjoyable film just for the sheer amusment of the over-the-top characters, the bad special effects, and the weird little creatures that are kind of cute, and not threatening at all.  Check it out, if you are ever in the mood for a retro bit of science fiction horror comedy.

Peace out,

Lefty

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