You are what they eat.
Year of Release: 1991
Running Time: 86 minutes (1:26)
Director: Kristine Peterson
John Calvin ... Clifford
Aimee Brooks ... Annie
Christian Cousins ... Johnny #1
Joseph Cousins ... Johnny #2
Leonardo DiCaprio ... Josh
Don Keith Opper ... Charlie McFadden
Diana Bellamy ... Rosalie
Katherine Cortez ... Marcia
Frances Bay ... Mrs. Menges
Bill Zuckert ... Mr. Menges
Terrence Mann ... Ug
They're orphaned, they're hungry, they're multiplying and they're Critters - back for another helping of humankind in this swift and scary sequel. This time the Critters are moving up in the world: straight up the elevator shaft of an urban tenement, in search of the snack they like best - us.
Critters 3... well, where else can you see Leonardo DiCaprio get his shoulder lodged in the butt crack of an obese woman? Eh? Alright then. Tabloid journalists love this one, even if you don't. Finally, vindication for their tireless efforts to report the news that nobody else has the balls to tackle. The good names of these men and women have been tarnished for too long, but no longer. I'm sure you'll agree that if the stories they print weren't true, that Bill Zuckert's character from the movie would never have been able to make the connection to the events in their apartment building and those of a few years past in Grovers Bend, that he had the good sense to clip out of the "scandal sheets". Obviously, the people that use hurtful expressions like that have never been abducted by bigfoot or been mauled by Batboy, so they're really just talkin' outta their asses, spending most of their time reporting on low hanging fruit like fugitives on the run and cancer kids with puppies. But anyway, the fact that everybody important makes it out of the movie alive, is a testament to the accuracy and tenacity of the tabloid journalist. So stand tall, you pioneers of the written word, for we thank you for all that you do. Without you, all the unlikable children in Critters 3 would surely be dead, and we'd never know how the Ghost of Elvis' sex change operation turned out. I don't wanna get too mushy here, so lets move on to more important matters. You've probably heard things about this one. Unsubstantiated rumors that Leonardo DiCaprio fouled up what might have been a perfectly good Critters sequel. But any movie that features Frances Bay swingin' a meat cleaver can't be all bad, so lets review.
First, I'll bet you had no idea that delicate, round objects riding along on the undercarriage of a 1971 International pickup, with no logical place for them to sit, could survive a road trip. Potholes, dead skunks, shocks that're about as absorbent as Jenny McCarthy's grey matter, not a problem. Least until you gun it into a parked car. Which brings me to my second point. Previously, I'd believed that if the brakes had gone out in your car, that you could let off the gas to decrease speed and slow to a stop. Might have to take a few trips around the block, but I genuinely thought this was a realistic option. Turns out it isn't. Your only option is to plow into something heavy enough to stop you. No emergency brakes, no shifting into park, no slowing down. Important safety tip for all you teenagers getting ready for your drivers exam. An lastly, you haven't made a truly spectacular entrance unless you've done so while howling like Tarzan gettin' a bikini wax. This last thing though, is not something Critters 3 really brings into the light so much as illustrates why it's such an abomination against humanity. I'm referring, of course, to bunny slippers. Whose idea was this anyway? I want names. Who thought that it'd look cute to walk around in slippers resembling hollowed out animals? It's not cute, it's DISGUSTING. You people should be flogged. The disintegration of your dignity as human beings aside, what's pleasant about lookin' like you've flayed open the back of a defenseless animal, stuck your feet inside, an stapled their little faces in the smilie position as though they're HAPPY with this arrangement? You can't help but liken these people to cannibals that wear the bone jewelry of their victims as a trophy to frighten off potential challengers. It's no wonder the Critter that first encounters these things practically shits himself an opens fire with the poison quill volley. He thinks this bitch is gonna hollow 'im out an wear 'im like Birkenstocks. You might even argue that at this point, the critters are acting from a standpoint of self preservation. Bad taste is one thing, but there's no reason to go around scarin' the bejezus outta small animals just so you can feel adorable. Everyone clear? I do not wanna have to go over this again.
The movie begins with a family that looks an acts like it's from Nebraska drivin' home to L.A., singin' some song they're obviously makin' up as they go. I mean it's bad, we're talkin' the kinda stuff that only makes sense to Patrick Monahan bad. Mercifully, one of their tires explodes a split second before the audience's brain does an they have to limp their rusted jalopy into a rest stop. Seriously, these people are supposed to be from L.A. The only times I've ever seen trucks like this one it was driven by guys that look like Grisly Adams from Don't Go in the Woods, on a lumber road out in the sticks, an was loaded up with ricked up firewood an chainsaws. Sorry, I'm done now. Anyway, while Dad changes the tire, the youngest child (Johnny) wanders off to play until Leonardo DiCaprio shows up an starts lecturin' him about lookin' over an embankment on account of how dangerous some brush pile within 100 yards of a rest stop is. Leo's shorts an $300 haircut make it pretty clear that he's an experienced woodsman, but while this is happenin' the eldest child (Annie) has to intervene when she gets the idea that Leo's tryin' to lure Johnny into his pedo van. It don't take too long before Annie figures out Leo's just dumb, not dangerous, an they all stop acting like adults an frolic. Meanwhile, some yuppy tool is standin' over Dad, watchin' him change the tire, while he sips ice tea in his polo outfit pretendin' he's got any idea at all what it's like to have to use his hands for somethin'. This is the kinda wimp that gets calluses from his steering wheel. But anyway, Leo ends up throwin' Johnny's frisbee down over the embankment of doom an, even though he just browbeat Johnny about goin' down there, he pretty much has to go after it or all his cussin' to impress Annie will have been for nothin'. So Leo starts reachin' for the frisbee with a stick just in case there's a hybernatin' grizzly bear under the brush pile. But just before he can get ahold of it a hand grabs the frisbee an the brush pile explodes an our only link to the first two movies flies out, landing unceremoniously on his face. Good ole Charlie, we knew you wouldn't get too stuck up to abandon us. Charlie's pissed. It took him a solid three hours to dig that hole an now these little whelps have blown his cover. But after he browbeats the kids for a while he eventually lightens up an warns 'em about the critters while we watch flashback scenes from the good movies in the series. Unfortunately, while Charlie's reminiscing, a point of view hedgehog rolls up under Dad's car an finds a cushy place to stow away where Charlie won't be firin' that big ole space bazooka blaster at 'im. After awhile, Charlie realizes he's not gettin' through to these chunkheads, so he gives Johnny one of them crystal dealies that people hang from their rear view mirrors an tells 'im that if it ever turns the color of Hi-C Ecto Cooler that his ass better call somebody. It's kinda like Sting from The Hobbit. Afterwards, the kids pile back into the car an head for home.
Back home, this greasy clod (Frank) is tryin' to use his bad Italian cliches an a pack of Willard's most loyal subjects to get all the tenants to move out so he can make bank an the landlord (Briggs) can tear the place down to make room for a Bed Bath & Beyond. Only when the family returns, Frank's right in the middle of one of his evictions an Dad can't seem to figure out that even if your brakes are completely gone, it's still not a good idea to gun it up to 80 before you impact whatever you've chosen to stop your vehicle an pretty quick the ejected tenant's stuff's outta his truck an cloggin' the gutters in the street like so many sloshed hobos. Then some biker lesbian shows up on her chopper an sends Frank packin' back to his basement office cause he's afraid she'll rub his face in her armpits again. Unfortunately for the point of view hedgehog, all its grapefruit sized eggs got smashed like Courtney Love on New Years Eve when the trucks collided an it has to roll through the basement window to regroup an rub some aloe on that egg hole. Fuggin' eggs are about half the size of the critters in this one, so you can imagine after they've popped 'em out, they're squirmin' around like the balding middle aged guy in the Preparation H commercials. So anyway, Annie goes up to visit the old coots that have to babysit her an Johnny on account of how selfish Dad is for havin' a job he has to travel for to support them, an tell 'em all about their vacation. The old man (Mr. Menges) is particularly interested in Charlie explodin' outta his fox hole near Grovers Bend, cause he reads all the tabloids an listens to Coast to Coast AM too much. Meanwhile, Frank's in his office/basement/laundry room talkin' to Briggs about what a good job he did gettin' the latest scrub outta there, only Briggs is about as patient as Veruca from Willy Wonka an the Chocolate Factory an he wants everybody out like a month ago. Frank ends up hangin' up on 'im cause he's about had it with Mr. "I don't care how, I want it now", but then he spots what he believes to be one of his rats in the ventilation shaft an has to threaten to sell it to the hot dog factory next door if it doesn't go terrorize some tenants like right now. Shortly thereafter, the noises don't seem to have stopped, an when he goes to reinvestigate a man-eatin' dust mop gloms onto his shoulder an starts swallowin' chunks of Trapezius muscle until he stabs it with a Phillips head a few times to get it off. Frank's not real swift though, an rather than runnin' he stops to make sure no blood dripped onto his alligator skin boots just long enough that a second irate muppet latches onto his midsection an puts him down an pretty quick the calvary rolls in for a bite of the open faced manwich.
Elsewhere, Dad's doin' his best to ignore the kids while Annie tries to take over the head matriarch position an force him to play house with her. That... didn't come out as I intended. Okay, she's tryin' to act like an adult in order to get Dad to behave so they can act like sitcom families from the 70s. Meanwhile, another tenant, Rosie, drops her unmentionables into the laundry chute an completely buries the poor fuzzball sittin' on top of a washin' machine while he's tryin' to lick his wounds. This may not sound dangerous, but Rosie is a lot of woman, and a single pair of her panties are big enough to bury a grown man alive, let alone a Krite. So with things startin' to get dark an unconsciousness beginning to take it, it realizes its only chance is to do the Sonic spinball maneuver an propel itself up through the laundry chute to safety, which works to perfection till Rosie slams the lid down on it an gives the poor bugger temporal lobe epilepsy. Later on, Briggs calls again, an with Frank permanently off the clock, one of the ravenous plush toys picks up an tries to take a message, only it don't like Briggs any more than Frank an starts chompin' down on the phone til Briggs suffers permanent hearing loss an whips his car around so he can give Frank what for. For anyone still reading, the landlord is the yuppy putz from the rest stop, and Leo is his stepson, so Leo's about to have a crash course in cartoonish supervillainy. Briggs is pretty much what liberals think all conservatives are like, if that gives you any idea. Up in the old couple's apartment, Mr. Menges is regaling Johnny with alien stories from Grovers Bend when Johnny notices the crystal Charlie gave 'im has turned the color of Slurm. Meanwhile, Rosie goes to retrieve her delicates from the laundry room, only Frank's nowhere to be seen an it looks like the Leprechaun stopped by an jizzed all over her bra. But that repulsion is short lived when she also finds a spot of blood an it's not long before she realizes she's in an ambush situation. But something the enraged doilies had not anticipated were the horrifying bunny slippers on Rosie's feet. Striking fear into the hearts of the front line, stopping it dead in its tracks. Immediately, the front line starts firing quill after quill into 'em until it's confident they're not gonna go all Night of the Lepus on 'em an then it's time for a drumstick. Right about then, Annie spots Rosie tryin' to crawl up the stairs, but doesn't think much of it since Rosie generally gets winded after about three steps, but reassesses the situation when she spots Fozzy Bear tryin' to make spaghetti outta Rosie's varicose veins an stuffs a mop head into its mouth an whips its hair back an forth while slammin' it from one wall to another till it's crazier than a rat in a coffee can an it needs a drool cup.
Afterwards, Rosie an Annie are able to get away, only Dad don't believe 'em an it takes a poisoned quill penetratin' his jugular (And Rosie's pin cushion) to get him on board. You'd think they'd argue inside the apartment away from the wooly bullies, but you'd be mistaken. So while Annie, Dad an Rosie try to hobble upstairs away from the deadly bath mats, Briggs an Leo have arrived, an Briggs cuts the power. Which is lovely, cause now they're crawling in the dark, looking for the answer. But it's not long before Marcia shows up with a flare an helps haul Dad's an Rosie's thoroughly doped up asses to safety. Elsewhere, Briggs thinks he's found somebody that he can make fun of for bein' poor an enters the apartment where three figures are watchin' Julia Childs on a battery operated TV. But Leo's about had it with Briggs' attitude an slams the door on 'im, which causes the figures to whirl around an make it clear that they're not the human heads with bad 80s hair Briggs had anticipated an within moments they go to work on his choice cuts. Marcia hears Leo squealin' about how he changed his mind about wishin' Briggs'd die at the hands of malevolent meat saws an goes inside to see what's goin' on since Annie didn't bother to fill her in. What's goin' on is that the fuzzy faces are fillin' themselves in with Briggs' entrails, an once she's able to get out of their bite radius she has to explain to Leo that his bad egg of a stepdad's gone to the big yacht in the sky. No time to cry though, cause another chainsaw with feet pops outta the laundry shoot an Marcia has to ram her flare down its throat till its insides light up like E.T. an it tumbles back down into Rosie's unmentionables. Or is that the sail from a catamaran... well, it's not really important. Yet. So while the poor sucker's sprawled out with the worst case of heart burn the world's ever seen, Marcia an Leo make it up the the Menges' place where they start bracin' the door. But it's not long before the little creeps show up an position themselves on either side of the hallway an start chantin' "GROND!" while the bruiser of the crew starts goin' all battering ram on the door. Meanwhile, Annie has a genius moment an spots the door to the crawlspace in the ceiling an figures it should be safe up there as long as the Menges don't have a Cellar Dweller an they all head up. Cept for Leo, he's on the bottom of the ladder practically shovin' his head up Rosie's ass to get her rotundness up the ladder. Ugh. Burn off all that hair an start from scratch, Leo.
But just as they're able to winch Rosie's hind end up into the crawlspace, the bone strainers breach the gates of Helm's Deep an start tryin' to turn Marcia's legs into meatball marinara till she starts kickin' 67 yard field goals with their faces an finally gets into the attic an shuts the door on 'em. I didn't make a "someone's in the kitchen with Marcia" joke, just cause I'm a nice guy like that. An since I'm such a nice guy, I'm not gonna tell you about all the disgraceful, childish things they make the critters do in the kitchen during this next comedic sequence cause it makes me wanna vomit with outrage. Anyway, Marcia finds a way to the outside of the building an decides it's as good a time as any to work on her tight rope act. So she steps out onto the power lines an heads for a nearby junction box where she can call the police an tell 'em... THIS MUGGA FUGGIN' BUILDIN'S ON FIRE! But she doesn't realize that until she's out on the wires an as you might expect, that sort of revelation can screw with a person's concentration, which it does, an pretty quick she's not tight rope walkin' so much as bungee jumpin'. Course she doesn't know that until she stops just short of the pavement, but it seems something has wrapped itself around her ankle and is neither electrocuting her, nor snappin' her ankle off like a Slim Jim the way you'd expect. So the good news is she's alive. The bad news is that fate is mocking her, as there's a phone box just a tad bit out of reach. What transpires next is so horrifyingly ridiculous that you really can't help but be amused, as Marcia tries to swing back an forth to build up enough momentum to reach the phone. Tryin' to pull exact change outta her pocket oughta be fun. By now, Annie realizes Marcia's pretty well tied up, Dad an Rosie are doped up on poison toad juice, an the Menges are so old they've got an autographed copy of the Bible, which just leaves her to take care of business. So she begins descending the elevator shaft until she reaches the basement, only the malevolent muppets have stationed a guard, an when it sees her it starts screamin' like Marilyn Burns in Texas Chainsaw Massacre till all the other fluffy Cuisinarts hear the distress signal an get back on the clock. Then, once the cavalry arrives, things start lookin' real bad for Annie who's tryin' to fend off rapid-fire quill attacks with the "outa order" sign from the elevator... but then, from nowhere, comes the Tarzan gettin' a bikini wax scream an Charlie blows up most of the hallway an splatters Critter plasma all over Annie's shield. About that time the little buggers start lookin' at each other like they just remembered somewhere they've gotta be. Anywhere but here. Will cut it here to preserve the battle of wits between the sentient plush toys of doom an Charlie McFadden.
Alrighty, well, whoever thought it was a good idea to make the Critters series into a joke for all the teenage punks to take their girlfriends to, is either completely insane, or at least had a serious mood swing when it was all over. Unfortunately, that mood swing came too late, because Critters 3 is a painful let down, following the first two movies. This is a textbook example of what happens when the comedy starts getting too heavy in relation to the horror. It's really difficult to say if the movie just got away from them, or if it actually came off the way it was written. The reason I say that, is because Critters 3 and Critters 4 were filmed back to back. And in fact, Critters 4 picks up precisely where Critters 3 leaves off. Now, if you've never seen Critters 4, it doesn't have hardly any of this horror/comedy stuff that Critters 3 has. A little, not much. And what comedy it does have is adult in nature, and is actually funny. We have Brad Dourif to thank for that. But anyway, the point is that 3 is extremely comedic, where 4's got hardly any comedy at all. Yet they were shot back to back. In fact, 4 has less humor than part 2 does. Only the original is played straight to a greater degree than part 4. So what I wanna know is how does 3 end up like this, when 4 is able to return to the series' more serious roots? Critters 4 is probably the anomaly to end all anomalies as far as the progression of a horror series goes, cause as most of you already understand, once they go comedic, they do not come back. Ever. Except for Critters 4, of course. Actually, I guess you could count Wes Craven's New Nightmare too. And that's really a different kinda situation where they were going in a whole different direction, breaking down the 4th wall and almost rebooting the series. Nonetheless, this sort of thing hardly ever happens, and when it does, it's rather baffling. Particularly when it does so directly following the most comedic of the series. This is what leads me to believe that Critters 3 was some kind of horrible mistake that the creators did their best to remedy with Critters 4. And while I'm certainly grateful for that, part 3 is still an affront to the genre. Particularly because it's one of my favorite horror series. I mean, Critters 3 is okay. But that's all it is, it's just okay. It didn't have to just be okay, 4 is head and shoulders above it. It goes without saying, 1 & 2 are as well. As you'd probably expect, both Critters 3 and 4 are rated below 4.0 on the IMDB, on account of its populace consisting of people who think anything that isn't as good as Star Wars is garbage. But I cannot FATHOM what got 3 rated higher than 4. I'm completely dumbfounded. I'm not sure I've ever been as appalled at the IMDB as I am at this moment. Words fail me.
Well, lets get this dissection under way, this one's startin' to stink. I mean, more than what's naturally occurring. I guess there's really not too much wrong with the plot when you get right down to it. It's the same basic plot from the first movie with a different (granted, inferior) setting. But there's really no rational reason to begrudge the plot too harshly if you liked the original, cause it's the same plot. That said, it does lack the particularly enjoyable backstory we get with the bounty hunters, and while Don Opper does flash back early on, there's no real advancement of the bounty hunter plot until the last 45 seconds of the movie; on that note, it will take a little ding. The acting, much as it fills me with seething rage to see Leonardo DiCaprio's face on the cover of my DVD with the notation "Starring Leonardo DiCaprio in his film debut", isn't really anything to be complained about. That said, the only really enjoyable characters are Don Opper as Charlie, and Geoffrey Blake as the slimy building superintendent, Frank. But here's who's been in what that was interesting: Aimee Brooks (The Mangler Reborn, The Hillside Strangler, Monster Man, Sorority House Massacre), Christian/Joseph Cousins (Intruders), William Dennis Hunt (Dr. Giggles), Nina Axelrod (Motel Hell), Don Keith Opper (Critters, Critters 2, Critters 4, Ghost in the Machine, Android), Diana Bellamy (Outbreak, The Next), Frances Bay (In the Mouth of Madness, The Pit and the Pendulum, Nomads), Bill Zuckert (Alien Intruder, Hanger 18, The Time Machine 1978), Terrance Mann (Critters, Critters 2, Critters 4, Solarbabies). Leonardo DiCaprio of course, big deal, leading man, yadda yadda, don't care.
The shooting locations are adequate, if not that interesting. Apartment building, and a rest stop. Not your typical rest stop, to be sure. It's got a lot more wide open space and is pretty strange, in the sense that you never hear cars flying by on the highway. Obviously, that's because it wasn't really filmed at a real rest stop, so if you wanna be a real tight-ass an call that unrealistic, be my guest. Didn't really bother me much. But anyway, the shooting locations don't add much. The special effects are probably the high point, though they're definitely not on par with Critters 2, which featured the best looking Critter puppets in the series. These are definitely better than the puppets from the first movie, but they can't compete with Critters 2, those were some fantastic little creeps. Besides the critters, all you've really got are three short glimpses at some bloody body parts. Really pathetic on the gore, in terms of volume; though what was shown was okay. The soundtrack I have trouble badmouthing, in the sense that the whole movie is comedic. So to complain that the soundtrack matches the tone of the movie is just nonsensical. I think I've made myself clear about my feelings on the tone of the movie. But to gripe about the silly soundtrack is just foolish, and not something I'm going to do. The soundtrack came out the way the creators wanted it to. Basically, to mesh with the movie they made. And to be completely honest, taking into consideration the terrible path they chose to go down, you'd have to say the soundtrack was effective at enhancing their lousy choice. So on the one hand, it's working as intended, on the other, you don't want it to work that way. I guess one must be fair and consider the soundtrack a plus. You win this round, but the soundtrack won't save you, movie. Bottom line, this movie couldn't have chosen a worse route if it were a Crip takin' a shortcut through Blood territory. Unfortunately, I must acknowledge the production values to be good enough that the horrible pathway chosen by the creators is not quite enough to sink it, and it will pass, if by a narrow margin.