Critters 4 (1992)

In the Nineties, a lot of the horror franchises decided to take their sequels into space.

This made a lot more sense for the Krites than it did for, say, Leprechaun, or Friday the Thirteenth’s Jason Vorhees.  After all, they were a deadly alien species, and only showed up on Earth in the first film courtesy of a convenient space ship.

At the end of Critters 3, goofy small town alien fanatic turned intergalactic bounty hunter, Charlie, was told that the Krites were almost extinct and that the Galactic Council was sending a pod to pick up the last two eggs.

Unfortunately (as we guessed as soon as we heard this), Charlie accidentally gets caught in the pod and is launched into space with the Krite eggs.  Fifty years later, a salvage vessel finds the pod and a big corporation offers them a huge reward if they take it to what proves to be a very empty space station.

This one was shot back to back with Critters 3 and is roughly similar:  they are trapped in a limited space and have to find a way to avoid the creatures and escape.  However, that doesn’t mean that we get what we expect of a Critters film:  it strays into rather darker territory than the usually light-hearted franchise had explored before, with a sinister, Weyland-Yutani Corporation clone, which has decidedly nasty plans for the Krites.

And, unlike 3, one of the characters we like ends up dead.

I find it rather curious that there are a number of obvious parallels between Critters 4 and Alien Resurrection, which came out five years later.  Both films features a ragtag spaceship crew which has made a deal with a big evil corporation to make a delivery to a space station where they’re conducting secret biological research.  Could the guys at Fox have, umm…”borrowed” a bit from one of the upstart competitors?  It seems unlikely, but…

I was mildly surprised to see Angela Basset in this one.  You have to start somewhere, though.  Less surprising is Brad Dourif, who plays a nice guy for once (who, come to think of it, was in Alien Resurrection, as well)

On the whole this one seemed to be a bit less than the sum of its parts.  There are a few interesting scenes, and the Critters are taken a bit more seriously this time (we are reminded once again that they are intelligent enough to fly spaceships!).  I enjoyed the running gag with the computer even if we know it’s never that easy in real life.  The Critters seem to have less screen time than in past outings (and for much of the film there are only two of them), although that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, particularly when we don’t get a silly, Gremlins-esque moment as in the last film.

But the film never quite seems to gel.  Maybe it needed more of a feeling of suspense to make it all work, I’m not sure…

A big horde of Critters and a few more splattery Critter kills might have helped.

It’s the least in the series, but it still goes well with a big bowl of popcorn and a midnight viewing with friends.

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