Review Date: October 3, 2009
Released by: New Line
Release date: August 5, 2003
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
New Line had a nice run in the 80s thanks to the likes of Freddy Krueger and the Crites. As we all know, New Line quickly capitalized on those two franchises by pumping out sequel after sequel. It took a few years, but in 1988 Critters 2
was released and the Crites were back in business. Much of the original cast is back for the second, including the then emerging teen sensation Scott Grimes as Bradley Brown, along with Don Opper (Charlie) and Terrence Mann as one of the bounty hunters. Perhaps more importantly, the Chiodo brothers are back to do the effects. Horror sequels almost never live up to the greatness of the original. Lets take a look at Critters 2
and see if it can break the trend.
The Brown family packed up and moved out of Grover's Bend after the conclusion of the first space rodent attack. Brad's Nana (Herta Ware
) is still in town, however, and Brad is back to pay her a visit. Just as Brad arrives in town and steps off the bus, police-dispatcher-turned-newspaper-reporter Sal (Lin Shaye
) declares the latest front page headlines: Brad Brown is back in town! Most of the town wishes to forget about the Brown family and their critters, claiming it was all a hoax dreamt up by a young, punk kid. Elsewhere, Wes (Tom Hodges
) the town drunk and local bad-ass, has found a bunch of eggs in the Brown's old barn. Not knowing what they are, Wes manages to trade them for a few cases of beer to a local junk-shop owner. Nana manages to scoop up a batch of the space eggs to use in an Easter egg hunt at the church.
Brad quickly discovers just how welcome he is when he is kicked around at the local burger joint by Wes. He manages a quick getaway with the assistance of Megan Morgan (Liane Alexandra Curtis
), a former classmate of Brad's. The two catch up and when Megan brings up the critters, Brad is quick to claim it never happened. The two attend Easter service together, which comes to an abrupt halt when town's sheriff - dressed in an Easter bunny costume - leaps through the window and collapses on the floor. His stomach has been eaten out, though the townsfolk are quick to claim it was a farm accident of some sort. It seems those space eggs hatch into wee little critters if they are left next to the heat. Megan, being all too clever, starts to figure out the critters might just be back in town as well. Her and Brad head out to see Harv (Barry Corbin
), the old sheriff who was voted out in a landslide after the last critters attack. Harv wants nothing to do with the town and promptly drives out of town upon hearing the news.
Before long the mayhem begins and it's a full scale critters infestation. As the critters are out and about gorging on local cattle and humans, Brad uses the communicator to call in the bounty hunters. They arrive, guns blazing, along with Charlie, former-town-drunk-turned-bounty-hunter. Brad is nearly killed when he tries to protect a little girl being chased down by some critters; he is saved when Harv returns to join the fight. The residents hole up in the local church and most want to wait it out in hopes the critters will eventually go away. Brad insists they must fight back and though most are quick to dismiss his ideas, Harv steps up and leaves the town little choice but fighting back. A plan is devised to lure the critters into a nearby hamburger factory and blow it up. They succeed, but the critters come rolling out - joined together as one big critter ball - and are now headed straight to the church where all the children are. It's now up to the unlikeliest of heroes to stop the critters before they can reach the children and gorge on some fresh, young meat.
What's great about Critters 2
is that it manages to continue the story from the original and even improve upon it in many ways. There's definitely more of the same in regards to the critters, but is there anything wrong with that? Sometimes certain formulas work and it's best to keep them that way. Jason kills teenagers at the lake - don't mess with the formula. Critters are funny, rebellious bad-asses that want to roll around causing havoc as they look for their next meal - don't mess with it. Don't mess with it, just improve upon it! Make the kills a bit more creative, improve upon the humor, etc. That's exactly what Critters 2
does. Who couldn't love a ball-o-critters? Or when the bounty hunters arrive on earth and the faceless Lee transforms into a beautiful playboy playmate? Or later when Lee stares at a cardboard cutout of Freddy Krueger and begins to transform, until Charles discovers in horror what's happening and quickly holds up the playboy playmate picture again? Any woman that can yell out 'Kill crites!" and look bad-ass while doing it - while being topless and in an alien bounty hunter g-string - is definitely a keeper. On a sad and serious note, I discovered the actress that played that part - Roxanne Kernohan - died in an automobile accident back in 1993. Sometimes digging up information for a review can be depressing. Seeing such a beautiful woman have her life cut short is exactly that. Rest in peace, Roxanne.
Mick Garris co-wrote and directed Critters 2
and he continues to work in the genre to this day. He directed the TV adaption to Stephen King's The Stand
, a favorite of mine, as well as Sleepwalkers
, several Master of Horror
episodes, and is currently lined up to direct the big screen adaption to King's Bag of Bones
novel - another favorite of mine. For a sequel that's several minutes longer than the original, yet still much of the same, he does an admirable job with Critters 2
. I think a big part of that is by getting things moving a bit quicker than the original and keeping the pace going. There's some silliness to it all, yes, but that's part of the charm of a Critters
movie and it's really one of those necessary components to work the magic.
My only complaint is with Scott Grimes himself. He did great the first time around as the rambunctious young boy taking on the critters. He clearly grew quite a bit in the 2-3 years between the movies, and it seems to have hindered his performance. He seems a bit lost and out of place, as if he's just going through the motions to collect a check. That's a bit disappointing, especially as the rest of the returning cast give above average performances. Even with that complaint, I find myself enjoying the sequel just a bit more than the original. Anyone liking the original is bound to get some enjoyment out of this entertaining sequel.
New Line presents Critters
in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio that is 16x9 enhanced. A P&S transfer is also included on the DVD. New Line again does a phenomenal job with the transfer, providing a very clean print that is consistently sharp. There's very little grain to be seen and colors are once again full of vibrancy. It's a dual-layer DVD and as such, I didn't see any compression artifacts either. Nice job, New Line.
Both a Dolby Surround and a new Dolby 5.1 track are included. It's similar to the first Critters
soundtrack - very little in regards to LFE and channel separation. There's a bit more action this time around, and as such there is a bit more out of LFE. Otherwise it's a pretty straightforward track; it was consistently clear and audbile throughout.
Once again we come to that spot that continues to disappoint - lack of supplements. There is a theatrical trailer and the disc is DVD-ROM enabled, but that's all we get.
I've always said that audio/video is the most important aspect to any DVD. Anything else is icing on the cake. If you're okay with eating cake with no icing, you'll appreciate this Critters 2
DVD. Honestly though, New Line did a great job on the a/v side, I just wish they would have done something with supplements - especially on the first two movies, as they are the most enjoyable. As for the movie itself, it rivals the original. If you enjoyed the first, you're going to enjoy the second.
Movie - A-
Image Quality - A-
Sound - B
Supplements - D
- Running time - 1 hour 27 minutes
- Rated PG-13
- 1 Disc
- Chapter Stops
- English Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
- Theatrical trailer
- DVD-ROM Enabled