Critters 4 (1992) — In space, no one can see you violate copyright law

“Congratulations, Charlie, you have just murdered the ship.”

Justin’s rating: Critters… innnnn…. spaaaaaaaace!

Justin’s review: After the shocking blandness of Critters 3, I held a desperate hope that the finale of the original series would bring us back to fine form. I had some reasons for this hope, too: Brad Dourif and Angela Bassett was in it, bounty hunter Ug was set to return, and, oh yeah, the whole thing was set in the future in outer space. The Critters franchise had yet to really take advantage of its more scifi elements, so I was eager to see what they’d do when the carnivorous aliens escaped Earth’s orbit.

Instructed by some sort of intergalactic council to preserve (!) the last two krites in existence, Charlie brings them aboard a pod and gets shot into deep space. Fifty years go by, and Charlie’s pod is picked up by some salvage hunters, bringing the threat on board a station near Saturn. The two krites get out, people die, the station’s nuclear core starts to break down, and the usual comparisons to Alien are made.

First, the good news. Critters 4 is at least better than its predecessor thanks to the aforementioned reasons. I’ve become a huge fan of Dourif’s work in the 1990s, as the man is simply magnetic. He can take any mundane scene and infuse it with his weird mannerisms and pauses to great effect. Getting to spend some time with him here helped me get through the finale of this series journey. And I don’t want to be remiss in praising Bassett, who fills the Ellen Ripley action girl role quite well as Fran, the ship pilot.

I also really appreciated the rare streak of continuity that flows through these four movies. They managed to tell an overarching narrative that logically flows (as much as “killer furballs” can allow) from start to end with some of the same actors to help with that continuity. There’s no off-putting reboots, illogical resurrections, or bizarre fad experiments.

The soundtrack occasionally kicks in with a welcome, if puzzling, bit of Firefly-like western vibes.

That said, the bad news is that Critters 4 still fails to reclaim that amazing balance of scifi, comedy, action, and horror that the first two films sported. Like so many other low-budget scifi flicks, this one doesn’t have the will and/or the funding to do anything that interesting with its premise. It’s just people running around sets disguised to look like a space station, and if you’ve seen one of these, you’ve seen them all.

Going back to continuity, for whatever reason, former best friends Charlie and Ug are now written as foes. Their unusual friendship was a highlight of the first couple of movies, so there’s no purpose or payoff to wrecking that now in the final minutes.

So it ends up kind of a wash. It’s not a must-watch, but it’s not a must-avoid either, especially if you want to see how this saga concludes.

Didja notice?

  • Saturn has its own quadrant
  • It’s Leo from Twin Peaks, still angry and still with his massive ponytail!
  • So do all space stations have semi-transparent windows to watch people showering?
  • This is not a very good space station A.I. Or, at least it’s not very obedient.
  • The Star Wars garbage compactor room

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