The Critters Collection              review by Bobby Blakey

Through the years there have been numerous films focusing on little crazed creatures that offer up terror and laughs like only they can. During the height of these films in the 80s we got the likes of Gremlins and Ghoulies that both spawned their own franchises. The other craze creatures to capitalize on this craze was Critters that spawned four films and how thanks to Shout Factory they are bringing the entire collection home to terrorize fans.

In the 1986 original film Critters it's no picnic for the Brown family when a lethal litter of carnivorous aliens arrives unannounced at their Kansas farm. Trapped in a deadly nightmare, the terrified Browns fight for their lives against the attacking bloodthirsty monsters. But it's a losing battle until two intergalactic bounty hunters arrive, determined to blow the hellish creatures off the planet! It's an alien adventure, full of action and just crawling with Critters! This silly feature works great for the genre if for no other reason that it knows exactly what it is and doesn’t try to be anything else. The story is simple and the practical effects of the Critters created by the Chiodo Brothers, known for their cult classic Killer Klowns From Outer Space. The fun little critters wreak havoc that is both funny and bloody in the

best way possible. Round this out with a decent cast including Dee Wallace Stone, M. Emmett Walsh and you have the makings of the perfect entry into this horror genre.

In 1988 they returned with Critters 2: The Main Course. It's been two years since the fiendish Critters first terrorized the town of Grovers Bend and sent the Brown family packing. But the "boy who called Critter," Brad Brown, is back ... and just in time. Critter eggs have been hatching lethal litters, and the bloodthirsty hairballs are eager to partake in their favorite pastime – eating. In no time, the eggs are popping open everywhere – a field full of livestock becomes a gigantic feeding ground, and local residents are disappearing by the mouthful. Fortunately, three bounty hunters from space, Ug, Lee and Charlie, are flying back to eradicate the problem. But can they wipe out the Critters before Grovers Bend is erased from the map? Cast members from the original including Scott Grimes, Don Opper and Terrance Mann all returned to continue this story bringing much of the same fun to this sequel. Sure it is predictable and silly, but they made sure to bring back everything that made the original crazy fun including more from the practical effects of the critters themselves making for a great follow up.

The filmmakers set out to finish the Critters saga by shooting two films as the same time with Critters 3 hitting in 1991 and once again bringing back Don Opper and Terrence Mann (for a brief cameo) as well as a then relatively unknown Leonardo DiCaprio. In the third chapter the fanged, furious furballs viciously invade an L.A. apartment building and sink their teeth into the low-rent tenants and a young man leads the battle to beat back the conniving critters and save the planet. It won't be an easy job, but he's the one person the human race must depend on to destroy these terrifying alien hedgehogs once and for all! This chapter stepped out of the normal formula by changing the location, but it was much needed to bring something fresh to keep it going. It is a bit sillier than the previous entries if you can believe it, but still delivers all the fun you want from the critters and their murder spree. If nothing else it is always fun seeing actors in their first film roles and knowing the massive star DiCaprio is today makes this an even more entertaining films seeing his budding talent grow from this decent film to the talent he has become today.

Filmed at the same time they wrapped up the franchise in 1992 with Critters 4 picking up right where the first film left off once again bringing back Terrence Mann and Don Opper along with Brad Dourif and Angela Bassett. In the final chapter the Critters are back, but these are no ordinary Critters – they're a super strain of genetically engineered mutants designed to take over the universe! I was a bit let down by the final entry despite them trying to expand the story and take it back to its origins. There are some great critters moments, but it felt like they spent more time just dealing with all the new characters and the space stuff instead of letting the critters shine like the previous films. For all its faults I give it props for finishing the story and giving fans a complete if not silly and flawed story.

If you love crazed creatures wreaking havoc on the innocent then The Critters Collection is a must have. This collection not only features all four features it is loaded with bonus content including trailers, “Making Of” documentaries, new 2K scans from the original film elements and so much more. Grab your copy of The Critters Collection available now from Shout Factory.

For more information head over to www.shoutfactory.com

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