Tuesday, October 22, 2013

CRITTERS 4 (1992)

SYNOPSIS: Just before he lasers the last two Crite eggs to death, Charlie is stopped by a holographic message from Ug, who tells him that he's about to violate some endangered-species galactic treaty.  He's instructed to place the eggs into a spaceship which will arrive momentarily.  Charlie being Charlie, he inadvertently gets locked in the ship with the eggs and both he and the Crites end up docking at a ship whose crew hoped for space salvage money, ALIEN-style.

I thought the script had some promising ideas, like the whole rare-species thing preventing a dangerous and voracious problem from being solved.  CRITTERS 4 could have been a sharp satire on bureaucracy!  That doesn't really come to fruition, but give the filmmakers points for at least trying.

After CRITTERS 3, which was really a thrift-store version of GREMLINS, it's cool to see the sci-fi elements of the first film being tapped again.  Ug's character is a little weird here, as he ain't on the side of the angels, plus he's back to his Johnny Steele guise without any explanation, but it's cool to see the whole bounty hunter/space thing again.  Plus this CRITTERS is in space, not in an apartment building, so hooray.

The movie has a really talented cast!  Angela Bassett, Anders (SUBSPECIES) Hove, a young Brad Dourif, and the voice of Martine Beswick as an annoying computer.  I don't know why they're all here, but here they are.  I wouldn't exactly call any performance Oscar-caliber or anything, but it is cool to see such a disparate group of talent interact onscreen.

The film looks to be handicapped badly by its budgetary and physical limitations. Most scenes are shot super-tight, presumably to avoid spilling the beans on the cheap sets.  Yeah, I know, ALIEN was also pretty claustrophobic, but CRITTERS 4 feels enclosed in an unpleasant way, like an ashamed aunt quickly shutting doors so you don't see messy rooms.  I was hoping for a little more breathing room after the shut-in style of III.  Set decoration takes a hit, too, especially in the 70s golf lodge decor of the ship's relaxation area.


I really struggled with where to place the Critters in the worked/didn't work schemata.  I like that they're far more vicious here, just tearing into people relentlessly, and no longer stuck with the doofus kitchen antics of 3.  On the other hand, the budget doesn't really spare them either and they usually look pretty cheap, especially during a really Critter-exposing attack scene that looks like a man being assaulted by merkins.  

I'd rank this as probably equivalent with the unambitious II.  It's slightly below average, but not abrasively boring like III.  But, really, we can totally stop with the whole CRITTERS thing now.



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