Critters 3 (1991)

DVD Cover (New Line Studios)
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Overall Rating 47%
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Ranked #4,209
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Connections: Critters

In what appears to be a cross between Critters and The Towering Inferno, the residents of a shoddy L.A. apartment block are chased up to the roof by hoards of the eponymous hairy horrors. --TMDb
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Review by Crispy
Added: November 11, 2007
Three years later, the Crite Machine takes another stumbling step forward. And just like the last one, we lose even more horror, add even more camp, and I cry a little more on the inside. Well, OK, it's not that bad, but it's still a steady decline for a series that started on a pretty strong note. Fortunately, this one isn't a total loss, as it still remembers that Critters has always been a fun series and acts accordingly. And if nothing else, hey, it's Leonardo DiCaprio's first movie.

The plotline this go around is hurting pretty bad, and it's obvious that they were scraping for ideas to get this one moving. While on their way home from a family vacation, widower Cliff and his kids, Annie and Johnny, are forced to pull into a rest area to repair a blown tire. While Cliff is hard at work, the two kids meet young Josh, and the three keep themselves busy with Annie's Frisbee until her new friend accidentally throws it deep into the woods. While they're retrieving it, they're scared to death by Charlie, who jumps out and begins frantically warning the kids about Crites. Apparently a handful of Crites have survived the events of Critters 2 and Charlie has spent the last three years trying to wipe them out. I guess. It's never really explained. Anyway, he sends the kids on their way, giving Johnny a crystal that will glow green when Crites are near. Unbeknownst to them all, a Crite has actually snuck up into their truck's chassis and hidden a batch of eggs. When they get home, the eggs immediately hatch and the Crites jump into the basement. Or maybe a Crite stowed away on the truck and carried the eggs down, as the shells they find later would indicate? I don't know, it's not really explained. Anyway, we come to realize that this family's apartment building is a complete dump. The elevators don't work, it's infested with rats, and it looks like it hasn't been cleaned in months. The superintendent, Frankie, wastes no time in letting the tenants know he doesn't give a shit, and tells them all off before retiring to his basement apartment. You see, him and the landlord are in cahoots to make the place so despicable that nobody would want to live there and everyone will move out. This way, the landlord doesn't have to pay the relocation fee to his tenants when he razes the building for a shopping mall. Frankie is helping him because...well, I don't know. It's never really explained. Obviously, him and the other tenants are in for a rough night. And to make matters worse, the landlord himself has shown up with his step-son, Josh from before, to evict all the tenants. Never mind the fact that this completely shoots the previous scheme all to Hell, we need kill fodder. Did they honestly think this was a solid plot to stand on? I really don't know. It's never really explained.

Although the series has always been compared to the movie Gremlins, this is the first Critters movie that truly reminded me of it. The Crites don't spend a whole lot of time on the attack here, instead they're content to just roll around the apartments and get into shit. We have a Crite playing with the fat woman's bra, Crites laughing at his comrade falling off the counter, and my personal favorite, the Crite who chugged an entire bottle of dish soap and spends the rest of the movie burping bubbles. What happened to the ferocious critters that were in the last two? These things are supposed to be malicious, not mischievous. We got two kills throughout the entire affair, and even those were barely shown. On the rare occurrence when they were actually able to take a step forward, they just took two back. For example, I'm glad they got rid of the communal-ball thing from 2, but they replaced it with an even stupider gimmick: the Sonic Spin. A Crite will pull into a ball, start rolling in place faster and faster as we hear an engine revving up, and then it takes off like a bullet. I'm not exactly sure how they pulled that off without getting sued by Sega, but I digress. Maybe I'm making too big a deal out of this, because while it does detract from the movie from a sequel's point of view, on it's own it doesn't hurt it too much. It just turns it into a really bad Gremlins clone. And while I admit, their antics did get a few laughs out of me, it's just not the same.

The only returning players here are are Don Keith Opper as Charlie and a brief appearance of Terrence Mann as Ug thrown in at the last second. While Opper usually gives a good show, it's starting to get a bit stale and overplayed. After five years of working with the equipment, it really doesn't make any sense for him to be confused by the way it works. Sure, that gag might have worked in Critters 2, but not this late in the game. This series has been blessed by consistent solid acting so far, but here that claim gets a little hazy. As mentioned, this is DiCaprio's first film and his youth and inexperience definitely shows. Of course we all know he gets his act together and makes something of himself, but that's neither here nor there. Geoffrey Blake plays the truly obnoxious Frankie, who quite honestly annoyed the shit out of me. So I guess I have to give a hat's off to Blake for a job well done. Johnathan Calvin was Cliff, who's performance earns a resounding 'meh'. He got the job done, but he really didn't look too excited about being there. Following the unusual trend this series seems to be creating, both Aimee Brooks and Christian Cousins, Annie and Johnny, were both really good in their roles, despite their age. However, truly stealing the show would be Frances Bay and Bill Zuckert as the Menges, the elderly tenants whose apartment becomes the group's shelter when the Crites get rolling. These two had me laughing out loud more than once, especially Bay. When asked if they have a "big knife" she comes jumping out of the kitchen with a foot long blade and a gleam in her eye. "How about a meat cleaver, dear?" I'll tell you, that's classic stuff.

Critters 3 and Critters 4 were shot simultaneously and 3 ends on a "To Be Continued..." note. While I won't spoil the big twist, I will say that the premise leading into 4 is pretty stupid. But then that sums up this entire movie, doesn't it? Don't get me wrong, It's not a horrible flick, and if it happens to come on TV one rainy night when you got nothing better to do, well you could certainly do a lot worse, but I wouldn't recommend anyone go out of their way to pick this one up. 4.5/10
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