Critters 4

In space, they love to hear you scream!

Year of Release: 1992
Genre: Horror/Science Fiction
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 94 minutes (1:34)
Director: Rupert Harvey


Don Keith Opper ... Charlie McFadden
Paul Whitthorne ... Ethan
Anders Hove ... Rick
Angela Bassett ... Fran
Brad Dourif ... Al Bert
Eric DaRe ... Bernie
Terrence Mann ... Counselor Tetra / Ug


The Critters are back in this supercharged sci-fi space adventure! But these are no ordinary Critters -- they're a superstrain of genetically engineered mutants designed to take over the universe. This time they're hungry to conquer the galaxy, with an appetite for mankind that's out of this world.


Critters 4, remindin' us that there're absolutely no repercussions for droppin' a two ton cast iron suppository through the roof of an apartment complex from outer space. Maybe it's cause they're in Kansas. But that's just an FYI in case you ever get the chance to try it, kinda sounds like fun. Well, we've got another one of those horror movies that ends up in space, but it's really not as big a deal with this one cause it started in space. I really don't understand the fascination with space myself, or why so many people're interested in goin' there cause I'd think after havin' the same weather every single day an always seein' the exact same thing outta the passenger side window that it'd wear thin pretty quick. I mean, after connectin' the cosmic dots has lost its appeal what's left for entertainment? They don't allow anybody to go down on a planet an look around cause every time somebody tries that some scurryin' little beast that looks like Andre the Giant's hand fastens itself to somebody's face an lays eggs in their chest. Sex is out cause by the time the average person'll actually be able to go to space without havin' to dress up like the Michelin Man wearin' the window off a laundry mat washin' machine over their face the sex toy technology'll be so advanced that men'll be considered obsolete an relegated to keepin' their light sabers perpetually sheathed. An of course Twister never works out cause anytime a meteor pelts the side of the shuttle everybody falls over an the guy workin' the spinner has to spend the next hour untanglin' an in some cases dislodgin' various parts of the participants. That's not even countin' all the sexual harassment paperwork that invariably follows that kinda meat heap. So really, much like bein' on Earth, you're ultimately relegated to TV to pass the time. Only if you get real far from Earth you end up outrunnin' the TV signals we're sendin' into space everyday an you're stuck with nothin' but Howdy Doody reruns an that crap they stick in the Mill Creek 50 Packs that was so bad nobody bothered to renew the license before it fell into the public domain. An if by some cosmic miracle you're able to find somethin' you did like, you're stuck waitin' decades for the sequel to get beamed out to you cause you're constantly movin' farther away from the transmitters. An as if that isn't bad enough, all the signals are analog so anytime some space junk pings the shuttle's antenna the screen gets fuzzier'n a jack rabbit's ballsac an you've gotta take a space walk just to get the goll durn thing readjusted. Maybe somebody can explain this to me, otherwise I ain't never goin' into space. It's impossible enough to find somethin' decent on TV now, thank goodness for the VCR.

This is why I don't fit in ain't it? Well forget about that it really isn't all that important in the grand scheme of things anyway. Specially not when you consider that what we're lookin' at here is a miracle of modern cinema. We've got one of the only horror franchises to ever go limp wristed an then get successfully straightened out like it went to one of those Christian brainwashin' camps where they convince lesbians that what they're REALLY attracted to are fat guys that sit around in wife beater tank tops all day an do disgustin' things that'll upset all five of the woman's senses. So because the franchise got a stern talkin' to an was subsequently able to get back on target, I think this is one of the greatest turn arounds in horror history, now quit playin' the armpit horn an pay attention, this's important. First thing this one has to teach us is that in the future, complex computer systems that're responsible for maintainin' space stations the size of North Dakota will be easily duped with reverse psychology. Second, takin' your shoes off in somebody's pad is a completely hollow gesture if you're gonna squish around in somebody's blood barefooted. An third, after watchin' this one I've finally pinpointed where the green eggs from that Dr. Seuss book came from. So Sam-I-Am is a menace to not only our sanity, but also to highly endangered species. What an asshole. But in all seriousness, Critters 4 brings up a whole new element surrounding the dangers of smoking that I'd been previously ignorant of. Now, there's already countless reasons not to do it. Reasons we're all well aware of; the stench, the costs, the health problems, the fact that you're paying for the privilege of developing health problems. But these things can all be pretty easily shrugged off, particularly since the health problems don't kick in until the seemingly distant future. But after this one, I just may have a reason good enough, and immediate enough, to make you spit that filthy thing out. Here's the deal; in the movie, we've got this space ship captain enjoyin' a thick an satisfyin' Lewinsky Special brand cigar. Harmless enough, if you're not the president. But when he goes an busts open the receptacle the Critters're chillin' in, one of 'em has been locked up without a smoke for so long it ends up smellin' the tobacco on the captain an burrowin' into his mouth just to suck up the residual tar an musky aroma. Knowin' the best stuff's deeper inside, it continues on until the guy ends up goin' to the big flavor country in the sky which eventually brings us to my point. Dependency on this vice inevitably leads to desperate acts, or worse, becomin' the victim of somebody's desperate act. So I'd suggest if you wanna keep man eatin' dust mops outta your digestive tract, that you put that thing out an listen to the surgeon general. He didn't get promoted from surgeon colonel by bein' a dumbass.

The movie begins with a five minute flash back from the previous movie to help get us back up to speed an to show us it's every bit as cool as the Friday the 13th series. Which, if you missed it, left off with Charlie bein' instructed by Ug's hologram to stick the last two Critter eggs in a cast iron suppository that the Intergalactic Wildlife Fund is sendin' over so the species won't go extinct. But when Charlie sticks the eggs in the pod the door closes up quicker'n your Gramma's eyelids after she found Two Girls One Cup on the internet an once the pod fills up with CO2 it heads for space like a Cecil Fielder home run. Next thing we know it's 50 years later an this punk kid (Ethan) on a space ship's tunin' out the captain's hailing frequency so he can watch Lash LaRue reruns on TV. Then Al Bert (Brad Dourif) comes over the radio an tells 'im to get his hind end up to the bridge before Captain Ricard's boot makes first contact with his ass. It seems Ricard's found somethin' floatin' around in space an he wants to tractor beam it on board so they can sell it to Watto over on Tatooine. So Ricard sends the muscle (Bernie) down to the docking bay an Brad uses this beam of light that looks like a bug zapper to wrangle it on board. Then they scan it an find out that it's hollower'n a political promise an colder'n a snowman's scrotum... and that it bears the logo of the now defunct Intergalactic Council. Yeesh, no wonder it looks so moldy. Palpatine dissolved that thing years ago. So Ricard has Fran (the pilot) run the serial numbers an pretty quick Ug pops up on the TV screen an tells 'em he's super stoked that they found his missin' potbelly stove an tells 'im he'll pay 3x the salvage rate. Naturally, Ricard starts tryin' to suck more cash out of 'im til Fran knocks the rabbit ears offa their dish receiver to break contact an tells Ricard to can the American Pickers bullshit an take the offer before Ug sends Boba Fett out to knock 'em all off. Ricard seems to think the pod's made of platinum or somethin', but in the end the crew out democracizes 'im an he agrees to take the pod to Ug's nearest space station. Only when they get there the place looks like somebody launched Detroit into space, so Brad hops on the command console an starts checkin' out how screwed they are on a scale of one to invaded Russia in winter, an notices the reactor core looks to have been monitored by Homer Simpson before the place was abandoned like a baby girl in China.

Brad figures they're not in any danger of blowin' up like Gordon Ramsay in a Chick-Fil-A kitchen for at least a month, so Fran hits the shower. Then Fran hits Ricard when he tries hittin' the shower with 'er an everybody snickers at 'im while he slinks away tryin' to decide what hurts the most; the rejection, the humiliation, or the class ring shaped dent in his jawline. It's too close to call, so he heads down to where the pod's bein' stored an whips out his laser blaster an blows a hole in it to find out what's inside an reassure 'imself that his penis is huge. About that time, the ship's computer picks up the discharge, though it's not clear whether it's referring to the laser or Ricard's moment of self assurance, an Brad sends Ethan down to see what Ricard's up to. Or down to, once it's done there's really no reason to continue standin' in attention. By the time Ethan gets down to the dock, Ricard's already managed to blast right into the wiring system on the pod an set it on fire like a pyromania therapy clinic an once he gets it put out he starts tellin' Ethan about how he's old, outta chances, an that nobody loves 'im cause his hair looks like it got in the path of his latest alcoholic vomiting fit. He also tells 'im they can leave right now an that they can make it if they try, just the two of 'em. Only when Ethan doesn't go for it Ricard waffles 'im with the fire extinguisher an raises 'im up to the ceilin' on a system of pully cables an peeks inside the pod where he finds Charlie, who's now crazier'n a rat in a coffee can an unaware that he'd already been locked in like a final answer on Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Undeterred, Ricard heads inside the pod, only to have one malevolent muppet latch onto his forearm while the other buries its face into his mouth lookin' for anything that mighta escaped digestion. While the famished furballs're chewin' on Ricard's tender bits, Charlie's able to get ahold of his gun, but the trigger's stuck like an oversized marital aid an by the time he's able to get it to fire off he ain't really payin' attention an succeeds only in givin' one of the little bastards Sergeant Carter's haircut before they roll outta there. Once they're gone, Charlie gets Ethan down offa his high horse an takes off after the Critters like Chris Dolan on the trail of an ambulance while Ethan asks 'im all kinda stupid questions like; who he is, what these things look like, an what makes 'im think he can just disregard the Endangered Species Act.

After Charlie explains that he's a bounty hunter an that he's gotta catch all the Pokeymons, they continue down the corridors lookin' for anything that might try the Sonic spin dash on 'em til Ethan finds a lab coat with a security card inside. So then they go in this laboratory that's fulla pickled punks an a beauty shop hair dryer big enough to tame Katey Sagal's 80s hair til they realize the wooly bullies ain't there they head up into the air ducts. Unfortunately, this air duct leads to the super-fun-happy-slide an eventually into a waste storage room, at which point the computer tells 'em their massive turdliness has just filled the bin to capacity an that they're about to become space funk as it starts countin' down the jettison sequence. They try convincin' it they're not trash but it gives 'em the cold shoulder like a hobo in church an since C-3PO ain't around to shut down the garbage masher, Ethan has to climb up on Charlie's shoulders an yank the grate coverin' another duct offa the wall so they can escape before they get sucked up an spit out like a Catholic priest in a confessional. Eventually, they crawl through enough duct work an spot Bernie who's wheelin' Ricard's corpse on a stretcher an he lets 'em out even though they smell like the bathroom at Manuel's Taste of Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant and Animal Rescue Center. Awhile later, after they've been hosed off, Charlie tries tellin' the rest of the crew about the Critters, only they just look at 'im like his Mama must've spiked 'im on his head like a football after a game winning touchdown an when Ethan brings 'im his dry cleanin' he tells 'im his driver's license is expired. Like 50 years expired. An by this point in the future he's gonna need approximately 37 forms of ID to get another one, ouch. So anyway while Charlie takes some unscheduled unconsciousness to cope with this revelation, Ethan sticks the security card he found into the computer an a video pops up on the screen showin' a scientist givin' The Crawling Hand radiation therapy til it gets juiced up on enough steroids that it's immediately signed by the New York Yankees. The scientist then says that these little buggers're *fairly* nasty, but that because they can't self replicate they're gonna need somethin' else if they want their future genocides to go though without any glitches. Brad's had about enough of Detroit Rot City, an says he's gettin' the heck outta there even if he has to go through the entire defensive line of the Lions (which admittedly, in 1992 he probably could have without too much trouble).

Everybody seems to be on board with Brad's plan, cept for Bernie who's gone AWOL with the security card down to the ship's pharmacy so he can scoop up enough Vicodin capsules to retire offa the profits obtained by keepin' Gregory House supplied. So Brad does a scan of the ship to find 'em an once he does the computer reveals two other life forms not far away that look to be headin' over for a Weekend at Bernie's. Brad tries tellin' 'im he's in the path of the furrycane but he's too distracted by his investment portfolio, which the sudden warning over the loudspeaker caused 'im to drop, an pretty quick Chewy Lewis an the Bruise show up an turn 'im into a beef marinara sammich. So now everybody that's left tries headin' for their ship, only the computer starts shuttin' all doors in the station cause the reactor situation just got upgraded from Three Mile Island to Chernobyl. Fortunately, there're trap doors in every level of the station an they're able to make their way toward the docking bay but en route Fran spots a pile of hamless green eggs an starts smashin' 'em like beer cans at a Raiders game til Brad has to smack 'er around to get 'er head back in the game. PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER MA'AM! Once they make it to the ship, Brad gives Charlie his antique Colt .45 an everybody puts their tray tables in their fully upright an locked positions so they can take off. But about that time Carvin' Marvin drops down outta one of the vents an Charlie starts usin' all his bullets to play whack-a-mole an eventually executes both the ship an the furrball with a well placed hollow point. Everyone has mad face, an once it's abundantly clear to Charlie that he's been banished from all future birthday parties, Brad suggests they just hang out til Ug shows up since he aughta be there any minute. Ethan has especially mad face, an after grabbin' the revolver, heads out to finish off the last of the Foehicans. He eventually finds it in the lab usin' the hair dryer to accelerate the growth of the baby baddies so there'll be somebody kickin' the back of his seat an makin' 'im pull over at every single Stucky's to use the can on the ride to Earth. Elsewhere, Ug finally shows up with a trio of stormtroopers an starts demandin' his eggs like the father on a 1950s sitcom an ends up clockin' Fran for sassin' 'im (also like a father in the 1950s). Brad is P.O.'d, but when he gets in Ug's face he ends up gettin' laserblasted right in the gut bucket leavin' only Fran, Charlie (who's got serious betrayed face) an Ethan standin' between the intergalactic military industrial complex an the end of civilization as we know it. Well, at least it's not just an Earth thing.

It's a Christmas miracle! Critters 4 is one of very few horror sequels in which, the tone of the series is able to be reversed from comedic back to serious. Horror franchises, almost without exception, do not revert from comedy back to horror. This may not seem that unusual to the casual viewer, but really, how many series actually come back from the comedic turn? The Elm Street series was able to with Wes Craven's New Nightmare, but then they turned right back around an went running back to it with Freddy vs. Jason. This kinda thing just doesn't happen, and I feel like the crew really deserves some credit, particularly when you consider how big a turn around it was from Critters 3 which was utterly ridiculous. I think at least part of this is attributable to the director having produced the original Critters, which this sequel is more similar to than any of the others. He produced Critters 3 as well, but when someone else is directing something targeted for teenagers it's unlikely you're going to be able to sway them to the dark side. Not surprisingly, because this movie was actually able to get some TV exposure around the time of its release, it suffers from some really rough IMDBadmouthing from the usual crowd of people that don't have much perspective on what's actually a bad movie. I thought this was a huge improvement over Critters 3, though certainly not as good as the first two. It does have some problems, and some new conflicting information about the Critters in relation to the previous movies, as well as some cosmetic changes, but it's still a pretty good sequel. The eyes on them for one thing. They've always been red, but here they're practically made to glow, which just looks silly. They also seem to have been dequilled and can no longer shoot the poisoned darts out of their backs like they could in the first three movies. They also claim the eggs take six months to incubate here, despite taking about six minutes in the third movie, but these really aren't serious problems. I'm having trouble seeing what it is that so many people hate about this fourth one, I suppose it's just the fact that your average person isn't really much interested in horror movies and so they're likely to start out on uneven ground with that crowd before the opening credits even roll. After reading quite a few of the comments on the IMDB, I still don't really understand what it is exactly that most people didn't like about it. Which, whether you agree or not, is usually not an issue. It's generally made pretty clear what caused all their acid reflux, but here, I dunno if there really is any reason other than being inferior to the first two. To each their own, I suppose.

Well, lets burrow into this thing's face an see if its problems really are just skin deep or whether there's a bountiful supply of genuine beef. The plot is fine, maybe even good. I rather like that the series begins in space, and comes full circle to end there. It also gets a few bonus points for picking up exactly where the third movie left off, though that's admittedly a lot easier to do when you're shooting the movies back to back. In all fairness, not much changes with the plot in these movies, generally, the location is the biggest difference from one to another. Perhaps it's no coincidence that the best two take place in the same small town. Sufficient plot, in any event. The acting is pretty good, which is helped out by the fact that the movie features four genuinely interesting characters. Charlie and Ug of course, return to be the only two actors featured in all four movies. But we've also got Anders Hove as the bitter jerkoff, Captain Rick, and the always awesome Brad Dourif as the wise ass engineer, Al Bert. The writing is a little bit weak and thus, Dourif isn't as well utilized as he could have been, though he's still got a few great one liners including: "you can't just come in here with your god damn stormtroopers!" and "the ship just cut a fart." Brad's great even with the weak writing, and probably tacks on 7% to the movie's overall score all by himself, and he, of course, needs no introduction, so here's who else matters and why: Don Keith Opper (Critters 1 - 3, Ghost in the Machine, Android), Terrance Mann (Critters 1 - 3, Solarbabies), Anders Hove (Subspecies 1 - 4), Angela Bassett (American Horror Story TV series, Supernova, Vampire in Brooklyn), Eric DaRe (Bundy, Starship Troopers, Silent Night Deadly Night 3), Marine Beswick (Night of the Scarecrow, Trancers II, Evil Spirits, The Offspring, Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell, Strange New World, Seizure, Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde, Prehistoric Women, One Million Years B.C.), Anne Ramsay (Planet of the Apes 2001). Angela Bassett's bordering on a big deal these days, so anybody interested in seein' her nekkid booty might wanna give the movie a watch. Course those could just as easily be stunt buttocks, it's hard to say. You normal people out there may also recognize Eric DaRe as Leo Johnson on Twin Peaks, and Anne Ramsay for her portrayal of Nora Underwood on The Secret Life of the American Teenager and as Lisa Stemple on Mad About You.

The special effects are pretty hit and miss here. I think the Critters puppets themselves probably haven't looked this bad since the original, when they do actually look bad. Sometimes they look pretty good, such as the laboratory scene near the end where Papa Critter's runnin' the babies through the evolutionizer so they'll grow up quicker. Those look pretty nice. But they look terrible when they initially emerge from the pod near the beginning of the movie, and a lot of the body movements are really half assed. Very stiff, with an obvious hand up their asses. That description works both here, and as the title of a porno movie, so feel free to steal that. The little beastie in the video log that looks like Andre the Giant's hand isn't that hot either, again, the movements are what really blow it. Really, it's the puppeteering more than the actual effects that blows chunks, but it's still a real problem. Also kinda surprising that this movie got a PG-13 rating after you've seen Anders Hove's death sequence, it's actually pretty horrifying to watch. Another spot that really bites is Ug's shuttle approaching from space. The reason it bites so hard is because it's stock footage from Android which was produced a decade earlier and is extremely dated and choppy. Charlie's capsule hurtling through space is pretty bad too, though that was a different special effects method of bad. It *may* have enough decent effects that it breaks even (then again it may not), but that was an area where it really needed to excel, and there's no good reason why it couldn't have. The shooting locations are really nice. Lots of sets made to resemble the future, which of course have now been built a couple decades in the past. I never tire of these, they're always fun. Liked the sets quite a bit, particularly the laboratory with all the pickled alien corpses, nicely done. The soundtrack isn't bad either, it's pretty unobtrusive most of the time, but it creates an adequate feeling of foreboding as it broods quietly in the background. However, it does pick up and become rather intense during the sequences where the Critters're dispatching a victim, and is very effective during the aforementioned mouth burrowing sequence. Overall, it's a sequel worthy of the original movie. That doesn't mean it's on that level of greatness, but it's still enjoyable. So if you watched the third movie and never looked back, look back. This one's a major improvement.

Rating: 78%