Terrence MannAngela BassettBrad DourifMartine Beswick
Critters 4
Medium: film
Year: 1991
Director: Rupert Harvey
Writer: Rupert Harvey, Barry Opper, Joseph Lyle, David J. Schow
Keywords: horror, SF, comedy
Country: USA
Actor: Don Keith Opper, Terrence Mann, Paul Whitthorne, Anders Hove, Angela Bassett, Brad Dourif, Eric DaRe, Martine Beswick, Anne Ramsay
Format: 100 minutes
Series: Critters
Url: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101628/
Website category: Horror modern
Review date: 3 August 2002
Better than any movie called Critters 4 has a right to be, but unfortunately I fell asleep ten minutes before the end. Admittedly I was tired, but that ain't a good sign. The worst of it is that I feel like I've seen the end anyway; from when the second spaceship landed, the film pretty much writes itself.
It's like a particularly bargain-basement Alien Resurrection, albeit with bits that are trying to rip off Star Wars. The only difference is that instead of Aliens, we've got Critters. In the year 2045, the only surviving Critters are sealed into a pod which is picked up by a spaceship and... yeah, yeah. Actually, it took longer than I expected for the Critters to get underway; this is a movie surprisingly devoid of its eponymous furballs. Instead it focuses more on its cast, a motley collection of space salvage operators who reminded me of the rag-tag pirates in Alien Resurrection, only less efficient and dangerous. They've got the same "different kinds of ugly" thing working for them and it's rather cool. One of 'em looks like Stephen King, which is the scariest kind of ugly I know.
Good things: it's not trying to be a horror-comedy, thank heavens. Bad things: horror series have a reputation for disappearing down the toilet if they set an episode in space. But I suppose the Critters started off as aliens being chased by shapeshifting planet-hopping bounty hunters, so that's okay.
To be honest, it holds together pretty well. There's nothing you can point at and laugh, nothing obviously bad that lets down the rest. The spaceship sets don't look particularly expensive, but they do the job just fine. I liked the characters. One instinctively wants to sneer at this movie because of that pesky "4" in its title, but in fact the only real problem is a lack of zip in the script. It hits all the marks and does so fairly well, in my opinion, but it takes an awfully long time: (a) for the Critters to get free, as you know they will, and (b) for them to create more of themselves, as you know they will.
The Critters are pretty silly, as always, but that's part of their charm. They're Gremlins rip-offs, but far more gory in their killings. I still like their mode of transportation (rolling into a ball and scooting along like high-speed hedgehogs) though it's a shame these ones couldn't shoot spines from their backs.
Incidentally, the Internet Movie Database's reviews of this one are even stranger than usual. Most of 'em are almost hysterical, calling it "quite possibly one of the greatest wastes of celluloid of the past 100 years" or fit to "make grown men cry". Admittedly if you go in expecting lots of scary Critter action then you'll be sorely disappointed. But one fella from Keble College, Oxford, has written a paen so glowing that I can only think he was doing it on a bet. Here it is, word for word... "Critters 4 ranks as one of the greatest films of the twentieth century. The word classic has never been so aptly used as in describing this mind-blowing epic. I agree that the original Critters is the best of the series, but the claustrophobic tension of the space station in which Critters 4 is set really must be seen to be believed. I strongly recommend this to anyone interested in seeing one of twentieth century's major film landmarks."
Personally I'd say it's middle-of-the-road, which is far higher than I'd have guessed going in. I don't know if you could call Critters 4 a horror film, but it's a good, solid chunk of third-grade science fiction.