Sunday, October 20, 2013

CRITTERS II (1988)

SYNOPSIS: After memories of the original Critter invasion have turned to skepticism and resentment, the remaining Critter eggs, which apparently have an incredibly long incubation period, end up getting used as Easter eggs by a local church.  The completely expected happens and CRITTER originals Bradley, the bounty hunters, and Charlie return to polish off the Crites until CRITTERS III.

WHAT WORKED:
The Critters themselves are again a highlight.  They mostly look cool and the times when they're on screen are easily the movie's most memorable moments.  The script sometimes gives them interesting things to do, as well, like the giant Critterball, which makes its debut here.


I am quarrelsome with CRITTERS II over script issues, but I am man enough to recognize that it does sport some nifty ideas and invention.  The bounty hunters (named Ug and Lee here, UGH) transform into assorted humans, of course, but Lee transforms into a Playboy centerfold, complete with a staple in her chest!  Lol, and I mean that.


Plus the whole idea of Critter eggs being used as Easter eggs fairly bubbles with sadistic potential.  The movie doesn't really pull the trigger, but I guess it's good a resurrection scenario as one could expect.


Barry Corbin inherits the Harv role from M. Emmet Walsh and he's super good here once Harv is lured out of his Critter-fear slump and starts kicking ass again.  Corbin has exceptionally nice line delivery and seems really invested in his character.  A+.



WHAT DIDN'T WORK:
I was pretty antsy when I saw "Directed by Mick Garris".  Mick Garris does competent work: it's professionally shot, the lighting's usually good, and the dialogue in the script always feels like a well-graded effort from a Screenwriting class.  And that's the problem, man, a lot of his stuff comes off as so professional that it seems quite soulless.  Give me a million Tommy Wiseau movies over something where the dialogue is so stagey that it almost seems programmed into the characters. 


There aren't really any glaring technical flaws in CRITTERS II.  No boom mics in shots, no continuity mishaps.  But there's also precious little reason to get involved in the film.  Unlike the first CRITTERS, there's no real sense of danger in this movie.  Even when characters are attacked and die, it doesn't feel weighty, as it did with the Brown family in the last CRITTERS.  Then there's the comedy stuff, which has slid from Hee Haw-like lite jokes to full-on dumbass buffoonery.  The Crites are gluttonous clowns in this, not mean bullies.  There's a buffet scene in which the Crites shamelessly ape scenes from GREMLINS, forsaking their own special magic to chase after Joe Dante's sloppy seconds.  


Obviously, duh, CRITTERS isn't really going to work as a grim & gritty ultra-90s vehicle, but CRITTERS II feels 90s in the other terrible way: a horror movie that makes no serious effort to rise above sitcom levels of plotting and atmosphere.  


I would've liked this more if it had been bad, but instead it's bland and I just can't get behind that.

RATING: 5

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