Critters 3 Reviews
The movie is just okay. I'm seeing all Leonardo DiCaprio film's and this was one of his earliest work. His role is not so serious or talented wise(director's fault), this movie is just funny. We all know the basics for the story, and this has nothing new. But I love low budget horror & sci fiction camp classics ... so I forgive this one.
The third in the tongue-in-cheek horror series liberally cribbed from Gremlins (1984) features an early performance from future heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio and was filmed simultaneously with its follow-up. This time out, it's an urban family who picks up one of the fast-multiplying beasties while on vacation, although they are warned by Charlie (Don Opper), a veteran of the creatures' earlier attacks. Once widower Clifford (John Calvin) and his kids Annie (Annie Brooks) and Johnny (Christian and Joseph Cousins) return home to their apartment building, the critter begins to reproduce, and the tenement becomes overrun with diminutive, hungry killers. The first to go is cruel superintendent Frank (Geoffrey Blake), but others soon follow, including the unscrupulous landlord, whose son Josh (DiCaprio) finds romance with Annie. With the appearance of the resourceful Charlie and the heroics of Clifford, the critters' days are soon numbered. Critters 3 was directed by Kristine Peterson, a veteran of the Roger Corman school of no-budget genre filmmaking.
They also tend to deviate and add brighter, more colourful elemetnts--Lethal Weapon 3 added a butt-kicking love interest for Riggs, Beverly Hills Cop 3 is set in a theme park. Critters 3 is no exception--this time we finally leave the town of Grovers Bend, and the Brown family behind, now focusing on a tenement building that I believe is in New York City, but it doesn't matter too much. Clifford (John Calvin) is a widower and father of two, Annie (Aimee Brooks) and Johnny (Joseph & Christian Cousins) who is returning from vacation with them to their home in said building, home also to Rosalie (Diana Bellamy, sarcastic overweight comic relief as usual) and the Menges family (Bill Zuckert and Frances Bay--who I know as Mrs. Pickman in the classic Lovecraft-inspired John Carpenter film In the Mouth of Madness, but here is a much more benevolent "nice old lady"--though there's an action she performs which is amusingly similar to her most infamous one in that film, though with an exact opposite intention). Briggs (William Dennis Hunt) is a businessman trying to run the occupants out so that he can gain money from the building, using his lackey Frank (Geoffrey Blake, great fun as a snotty, arrogant punk of a "maintenance man") to try and scare or gross the occupants out. The movie's claim to fame is the actor playing Briggs' stepson Josh--none other than Leonardo DiCaprio in his film debut.
Performances are strong all around for what they are. Comic timing is excellent on all counts, and the emotions are believable, simplistic though they may be. DiCaprio is impressive enough as a rebellious young boy, doing pretty well for his age (though seeing the talent he has now, this IS less impressive). But, as always, the stars of this show are the Chiodo brothers' (their solo, er, trio, claim to fame being Killer Klowns from Outer Space) Critters and Critter effects, now even more complex in design than even the first sequel, with glowing red eyes and very expressive faces and limbs. The one that answers the phone for Frank when Briggs calls is as cute as the Crites can get, dancing and waving madly in amusement and frustration at the victim he cannot reach. Great setpieces like a POV shot of a Crite latched onto a broom and any of them latching onto a victim are what it's all about. They don't quite have any lines as funny as the ones in the original (they do speak, but of course not in English, so they're subtitled). They're hilariously inept as always, despite their clear relative intelligence, suffering massive indignities at the oblivious hands of the tenants until they finally reveal themselves (then only suffering less massive indignities to indulge their appetites).
Don Keith Opper returns--thanks to his brother Barry Opper's script--as Charlie McFadden, the former town drunk turned inter-stellar bounty hunter, who appears early on to warn Annie, Johnny and Josh of the threat they are soon to face, and later to help combat the Crite infestation.
For some reason, this film has a 3.0 on IMDb. I think that's pretty insanely harsh. It's not groundbreaking, it is a second sequel, and it is "just a b-movie," but it's smartly written enough, well-directed, well-edited and well acted. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes monster movies with a strong humorous element and great monster design and effects. I don't know who else there is like that, but that's always been a problem for me. Not a letdown at all--not even, in fact, like the other two movies I referenced a number of times.
The story is set some time after the events of the previous film (in fact we get several shots of "Critters" and "Critters 2" in order to bring the audience up to speed on what the Crites are). Annie (Aimee Brooks), her young brother Johnny (Christian & Joseph Cousins) and their father Clifford (John Calvin) accidentally bring with a batch of Crite eggs with them after a family vacation. When the eggs hatch and cause havoc in their dilapidated apartment building, things are made worse by the crooked landlord (William Dennis Hunt). Leonardo DiCaprio also stars as the landlord's son Johnny and an ally of Annie's in this battle for survival.
I like "Critters" and I think it's got some legitimate charm. "Critters 2" isn't great but at least it has the distinction of being a horror movie set on Easter. This film? It's got nothing interesting to show. To begin, the plot doesn't make any sense. A bunch of tenants are stuck in their apartment building and the Crites run wild eating people. The phone lines and the power get cut, making it "impossible" for them to get help because of a contrived plot development with the landlord. You'd think someone who lives on the ground floor could have broken a window and gone to yell for help, but no. Either the people in this building are too dumb to think of that, or they just happen to live in a ghost town where the skyscrapers are lit up, but no one lives or works in them and there is never any circulation in their neighborhood.
I understand the movie would have been over within like 15 minutes if Annie and Josh had managed to contact the police as soon as people started getting gobbled up, but that's the problem. This is just a bad plot for a "Critters" sequel. It needed to be set on a derelict space station or an isolated island or something and that crooked landlord? Ditch him altogether. More than that, we're supposed to swallow some truly unbelievable events, like characters getting tangled in some wires for at least 20 minutes without figuring out a way to get themselves freed or an attic so massive that someone could get lost in it.
I almost feel insulted watching the picture. Why such a long montage of the first two films detailing what happened previously in the town of Grover's Bend? Did director Kristine Peterson just assume that this story would be so awesome and epic that it would get the greatest word of mouth of all time? Would people hear about the majesty and think to themselves "well, I haven't seen the first two films but this direct to VHS sequel sounds so awesome I HAVE to see it!" Maybe a time traveller told him that because of the casting of Leonardo DiCaprio this film, despite it's consistently awfulness would earn itself some attention?
I think it speaks volumes that the inner continuity of the film can't even get itself straight. Charlie MacFadden (Don Keith Opper, reprising his role yet again) explains in a scene that it all began in 1984... and later we're told that the events in Grover's Bend actually occurred in 1986. Did someone even proofread this slug-brained script? Then, the picture ends in a big "to be continued", forcing you to slog through what is sure to be another probably terrible sequel after this one. Well, I own it so I guess that's what I'm watching next!
"Critters 3" is so poorly put together and made with such little care that I can just barely manage to give it a half star out of five. Why? I don't know. The Crites aren't entertaining, they're just Gremlin knock-offs at this point, complete with the TV watching and the stupid gags. Maybe I can encourage people to watch it for the acting? Certainly not. Most performers are alright but at least one actress, Diane Bellamy is about as convincing as a 3 dollar bill when it comes to her big scene where she's screaming in terror while being eaten alive. There's nothing stellar when it comes to the story, or for the special effects. The best I can say about those is that they're consistent in quality, but that's not saying much. I guess the half star comes from the fact that I foresee the next movie being even worse and if that's the case, I want some room to go even lower. Please prove me wrong. I really thought "Critters 3" was a chore to sit through. If you happen to do so though, stick all the way to the end of the credits though, there's a joke in there that you "don't want to miss". (On DVD, September 15, 2015)