Critters 3 (1991): The Critters Retrospective

Critters 3 Poster


Ok, here we go again.  Critters 3 was released in 1991, and this time was directed by Kristine Peterson.  Peterson wasn’t involved with a lot of big directing projects (unless you consider Kickboxer 5 big :P), however she was an assistant director for such movies as Chopping Mall, A Nightmare on Elm St. 5, and Tremors.  So that’s a good sign, right?  Well, I guess we’ll have to get into the review and find out.

So we begin with Clifford driving with his kids Annie and Johnny, singing a song, being all happy like.  Which gets delayed with a flat tire and being forced to park at a rest stop to fix it.  During the wait, this is where Annie and Johnny meet Josh, Leonardo DiCaprio’s debut movie role.  After a slightly rocky introduction, they start to get along and toss a frisbee around.  The frisbee gets thrown down an embankment and the kids go get it.  Which is where we run into…..Charlie!!

Charlie appears to have lost his mind a little since last time we saw him.  He’s on a hunt for Critters, and he decides to take a pause and tell the kids about Grover’s Bend’ history with the aliens, starting back in 1984.  Which is interesting, as the first Critters movie was released in 1986.  Anyway, we get treated to a recap of the first two movies, including stuff he wasn’t around for.  During all this, a Critter sneaks under Clifford’s truck and stashes 4 eggs and presumably itself under the truck to get away from Charlie.  How those eggs got to be there seems like a mystery to me.  The Critter couldn’t have carried all 4 eggs in its arms.   And given how large those eggs are, and how small the average Critter body is, it seems unrealistic that it could have laid those eggs right there.  But I suppose trying to validate realism in a movie like this is probably a waste of time.  So moving on….

Charlie gives Johnny a crystal that glows when Critters are around, and everyone goes their separate ways afterwards.  Clifford and kids then make it to their apartment building home, where the rest of the movie takes place.  The Critters hatch and get into the building, where they work from the bottom up to kill and eat, beginning with the building superintendent.  From here on in, it’s all about survival for the residents of the building.  Oh and did you think Leo was gone?  Hell no!!  His father (sorry, step-father) just happens to be the landlord of this building, and the two visit the building to do some evicting and end up getting in the middle of the Critter rampage.  Will the tenants survive?  Will I tell you?  Of course not, where’s the fun in that?  🙂

Ok, where to begin with this one?  Let’s consult the notes (yes, I actually took notes for this one).  Well, I guess I’ll just start with the acting.  Some of the acting in this movie is terrible.  Frank the superintendent couldn’t die fast enough for my liking, and Rosalie the tenant was sufficiently annoying.  Otherwise the acting, while nothing to write home about, was done satisfactorily.  DiCaprio was probably the best of the bunch in fact.  Who’d have thought just over 2 decades later he’d be in a movie where he owned slaves?

Critters 3

“Ahhh, fresh meat!!”

If there’s a constant in this series (aside from there being a different director for every movie), it’s that something has been changed or added with regards to the Critters in every movie.  Let us count the ways for this one.  First, their projectile spines are much weaker than in previous movies.  Clifford and Rosalie took multiple spines and managed to keep conscious for quite a long time.  In Critters 1, the Brown parents each took only one spine and immediately dropped to the ground.  Also, it turns out they have an extremely negative reaction to bleach, as at one point one of the Critters is burned horribly from contact.  I sort of expected this weakness to be exploited later, but nothing came of it.

The Critters also have a couple of new abilities this time around.  For one, they can now spin in one spot like Sonic the Hedgehog and launch themselves into a powerful jump, even jumping vertically at a great height if needed.  Not only that, but at one point,  one of them emits a high-pitched scream that seemingly warns others that it’s in trouble.  The scream is capable of breaking glass if held long enough.

There seem to be a lot of inconsistencies with egg incubation time, depending on plot convenience.  Critters 2 had eggs that didn’t hatch for two years.  This time around (judging by the goo around the eggs at the beginning), these eggs hatched probably within a couple of hours, depending in how long the drive to the apartment building took.  Another thing I noticed was that judging by the eggs planted under the truck (and assuming the Critter that laid it hung on for the ride too), there should have been somewhere around 5 of them in the building.  But later there were at least six moving around.  Either this was just a mistake, or more eggs were laid in the building, and they too hatched in short time.

As with the other two movies, there isn’t a whole lot of gore.  You see some bite marks and the like, but it’s once again a pretty tame movie considering that the aliens are constantly hungry and looking to tear people apart.  But that’s what happens when it’s PG-13 I guess.  By the way, keep watching this movie during the credits.  This movie was shot back-to-back with Critters 4, and the ending of 3 sets up the next movie.  This is probably the weakest movie of the series in my opinion, but it does have its moments.  And it has Leonardo DiCaprio, one of its only real bragging rights.  Well, I think that about does it.  Only one more and we’re through.  Will it fare better than C3?  Stay tuned and find out.  Rest in peace.

Macabre Rating: 2 out of 5 tombstones

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