Don't read this wrong. "Critters 4" is an awful film, an embarrassing cash-in on a once-popular franchise. Its special effects are miserable -- it came out the year of "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," and contains special effects predating the days of Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey." But as much as I hate to admit it, the film has an odd sort of disturbing charm about it, and the characters are strangely likable.
Am I being serious? Yes, Reader, I am. This film is horrible, truly horrible, yet its saving grace is the way it doesn't try to be anything particularly special. I watched "Critters 4" at 1:15 a.m. on a late Friday night, when nothing else at all was on, expecting to flip it off after a few moments, but I actually found myself getting interested.
I doubt I would feel the same if I had viewed this in a crowded theater at 7:00 when I could be doing something more useful with my time. But for being a late-night entertainment, it is just that.
There's no plot to speak of, other than to say (a) the film takes place in the future and (b) two of the infamous money-making Critters, or "Cretes," have survived along with bounty hunter Charlie (Don Opper), who is broken out of his storage some 50 years after being knocked out inside and drifting into hibernation.
He (and the critters) are awoken by a space travel crew bringing back cargo to Earth. They pick up Charlie's drifting space pod by accident, and soon those nasty little critters are running amuck once again.
There are two instant signs of a dying series. One is trying to bring the characters into a new environment, such as space. This has been history repeated throughout film's existence. The second is to turn around and spoof the other entries in the series, inserting little in-jokes and such.
"Critters 4" falls victim of these traits. But because it knows it's in trouble, it doesn't try too hard, and manages to unsuccessfully spoof "Star Wars," "Alien" and the entire "Critters" series itself.
The best actor in the film is Brad Dourif, best remembered for providing the evil voice of the menacing child doll Chucky in "Child's Play." Douriff is sort of a low-budget Joe Pantoliano, a character actor who made me actually care for the character in this film, making him something more than just another human to be eaten.
The film takes a twist at the end that might upset a lot of the fans of the original "Critters" film. I've lost track of the plot so far, seeing how "Critters 3" (released the same year) was such a mess, but Ug (Terrence Mann) makes a return and I don't think fans will be happy with his outcome.
Is "Critters 4" a bad movie? Yes. And it should have been rated R. But if nothing else is on TV, you may want to take a glance at this appalling, ridiculous little treat.
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