Critters 2 (Critters 2: The Main Course) (1988)
Critters 2 (Critters 2: The Main Course) (1988)

Genre: Horror Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 26 min.

Release Date: April 29th, 1988 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Mick Garris Actors: Terrence Mann, Don Opper, Cynthia Garris, Scott Grimes, Al Stevenson, Tom Hodges, Douglas Rowe, Liane Curtis, Lindsay Parker, Lin Shaye

 


 

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nce again, extraterrestrial bounty hunters (led by Terrence Mann) scour the universe looking for alien criminals and monstrous trophies. And with them is human Charlie (Don Opper), a drunk who tagged along a couple of years back for some intergalactic adventures. When they’re informed by an employer that there are still residual traces of the ravenous Crites on planet Earth, they’re forced to return to eradicate every remaining bit of evidence – or their pay will be withheld. This puts them right back into the path of Bradley Brown (Scott Grimes), the youngster whose family originally battled the furry alien menaces.

When local reporter Sal (Lin Shaye) hears the news that Brad is returning to Grover’s Bend, where his grandmother resides, she wishes to cover the story. But editor Mr. Morgan (Sam Anderson) thinks it will just be another tall tale – one that previously caused a panic in the small town. However, rancher Len Quigley (Douglas Rowe) has acquired some Crite eggs from rowdy bully Wesley (Tom Hodges), which are about to hatch – just in time for the annual Easter egg hunt, crawling with children and other tasty morsels.

The music, composed by Nicholas Pike, has become far more polished, utilized to generate better sounding thrills, even if the actual attacks haven’t improved much in their ghastliness. And the look is sharper, while the cinematography is better framed, marking this low-budget sequel as a work of higher production value (it even has nudity by a pseudo-Playboy model, Roxanne Kernohan). The critters themselves are about the same as before (save for the addition of noticeably moving lips), though there are now many more scurrying about for extensive mayhem. The acting is still mediocre, and the writing is conservative in both scares and humor (“Critters 2” is the writing debut of David Twohy, who would go on to pen “The Fugitive,” “Waterworld,” and “Pitch Black”), while the ideas are sillier than ever – though a scene in which an Easter bunny, grasping at his bloody crotch, crashes through a window into a church prayer session, is quite hysterical.

One of the major problems with this film – which similarly plagued the previous picture – is the need for alien bounty hunters with superior firepower to vanquish the enemies and save the day. It would have been considerably more satisfying and inventive if the outnumbered, outmatched humans had to solve the predicaments themselves. It’s too easy to have a grenade-launching, experienced warrior combatant show up at all the right moments to blast the critters into oblivion.

Amusingly, the Crite death scenes have grown more goopy and destructive, though the potential for greater showdowns and onslaughts (as with the amplification in spectacle witnessed from “Alien” to “Aliens” or “Gremlins” to “Gremlins 2”) is sadly unfulfilled. Where’s the enormous, gargantuan Crite, or the King of the Crites? Both of those concepts are actually brought to fruition here, but not magnificently enough; perhaps a proper realization of those notions are reserved for subsequent sequels. The focus here is clearly on tepid laughs rather than awe-inspiring impressiveness.

– Mike Massie

  • 4/10