Critters 2: The Main Course (1988) — This won’t give you a bum steer

“Who are we gonna call? Critter Busters?”

Justin’s rating: Three “noms” and a belch

Justin’s review: When I saw one of those “FOUR MOVIES IN ONE!” DVD sets at a store containing the entire Critters series, I figured that was as good a sign as any that I was meant to continue this weird cousin of Gremlins. It’d been a while since I watched the first movie, but it was bad in all the interesting ways that promised a worthwhile continuation.

Plus, and this got my attention, Critters 2: The Main Course is the very first screenplay of David Twohy (Riddick, The Arrival). I love this guy’s stuff, so I settled in and prepared for another go-around with intergalactic gluttons.

I think Critters often gets dismissed as being a mere Gremlins ripoff, although the “Who came first, the gremlin or the krite?” argument isn’t as clear-cut as you may think. Despite both movies being about destructive small monsters, Critters goes its own path with a scifi angle that includes spaceships and shape-shifting bounty hunters. C’mon, that sounds cool, don’t it?

Anyway, a couple of years after the events of the first movies, the bounty hunting crew — which includes Earth refugee Charlie — are informed that all of the krites haven’t been wiped out and they have to return to the planet to finish the job. Even as they do this, they’re hampered by townfolk that don’t exactly believe that they narrowly survived alien digestion a little while back. Therefore, nobody’s really paying attention to the fact that some of those Easter eggs littered about town are actually ready to give birth to a second wave of terror.

In addition to bounty hunters Ug, Lee (who shapeshifts into a Playboy model), and Charlie, the defensive line is held by Earthers Bradley (who everyone laughs at for being “the boy who cried critter”) and reporter Megan.

Critters 2 does the right thing by refusing to take any of its premise that seriously. This is the kind of setup that gives you all sorts of license to be weird, witty, and subversive — and boy does this movie go whole-hog with it. It’s not a straight-up horror flick, but rather a genre blend of scifi, action, comedy, and creature feature kept somewhat acceptable with a PG-13 rating.

All of the townsfolk (and the bounty hunters) really lean into the quirkiness of characters stuck in a B-movie, which is always a hoot. Some of the comedy lands (like the Easter bunny becoming an extraterrestrial buffet), some doesn’t, but when I wasn’t chuckling, I was secretly delighting in the action setpieces and single-minded hunger of the krites.

Speaking of the titular critters, they seem to have better puppeteering this time around. The pint-sized furballs bounce everywhere and take big bites out of whatever their red eyes see. They even escalate things this time around, banding together to form a superball of krites that scales up the threat to ridiculous proportions. Plus, it’s always a good time when they either kill or are killed, thanks to — again — vastly improved puppet effects.

At the time, this theatrical release bombed both at the box office and among critics, but it’s become one of those cult films that have been vindicated over time. In many ways, it’s a lot better across the board than the first film — and it is never, ever boring. I’ve heard it said that Critters 2 has an ’80s Amblin pictures feel (it was directed by Steven Spielberg protégé Mick Garris), and I can totally see that viewpoint.

If you’re a fan of goofy horror movies that aren’t scary in the least, you need to see Critters 2. Just know that if you do, you’ll be humming the Hungry Heifer song for the rest of the week.

Didja notice?

  • Guess this space dude got lost and ended up on the set of Alien
  • Gee, E.T. really let himself go, didn’t he?
  • That’s one way to get out of a truck, butt-first through the window
  • The antique sign
  • The Hungry Heifer jingle: “We won’t give you a bum steer!”
  • Not a slick move to call a female reporter “Jimmy Olsen with breasts”
  • Is this the smallest church ever? But their Easter basket budget is out of this world!
  • The Easter bunny jumping through the church window made this a memorable sermon
  • That’s a sudden burst of nudity for a PG-13 film
  • Half-eaten corpses like to stand behind doors, waiting for you to open them
  • Remote control door explosions
  • How Bradley geeks out when the bounty hunters return
  • The krite’s eyes bulging out
  • The krite being deep fried
  • Lee really loves to keep shapeshifting, doesn’t he?
  • Freddy Krueger’s cameo
  • “I’m back” YEAH YOU ARE
  • I’m always down for a “town getting ready to fight the monsters” montage
  • I think this movie spent half its budget on that single explosion
  • The krite-ball can strip a man down to his skeleton in two seconds

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