BASEMENT BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Critters Collection by Shout! Factory

They’re back and ready to devour your Blu-ray player!

The terrifying and tiny menaces are out in full force with this four-film collection packed with enough Special Features to make any fan’s mouth water!

In CRITTERS, the terrified Brown family are trapped in a deadly nightmare and must fight for their lives against a litter of extraterrestrial, bloodthirsty monsters. But it’s a losing battle until two intergalactic bounty hunters arrive, determined to blow the creatures off the planet! In CRITTERS 2: THE MAIN COURSE, some eggs have survived and are popping open, bringing another horde of the little creatures! Brad Brown (Scott Grimes) returns to fight them along with three bounty hunters. CRITTERS 3 stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Josh, a beleaguered Angelino who must lead the fight against the little monsters as they invade an L.A. apartment building. In the final film, CRITTERS 4, a super strain of genetically engineered monsters are designed to take over the universe. This time, Brad Dourif and Angela Bassett must battle the little bloodthirsty hairballs.

The 1980s featured many movies starring little creatures. Whether it was GREMLINS or GHOULIES, they all featured the basic storyline. Little monsters on the warpath. CRITTERS will always be one of my all-time favorites and THE CRITTERS COLLECTION, by Shout! Factory, is a must-have for any lover of horror movies from the 1980s. The original four films are in this collection, avoiding the 2019 release CRITTERS ATTACK!

For me, the first two films in the series are the best. The Critter designs, by the Chiodo Brothers, are absolutely amazing and though the characters can be funny onscreen with their antics, they are also terrifying. The red glowing eyes and mouths full of teeth give these creatures so much character.

CRITTERS, from 1986, is by far the best of the series. The acting is strong all around and Scott Grimes, an unknown at the time, seems very natural with his character. Dee Wallace Stone is fantastic here and actually adds to the validity of the movie. The creature effects are top notch and the Critters themselves are such an original design. The new 2K scan from the original film elements is stunning and a huge upgrade from the DVD release. The special features are a lot of fun too, especially the documentaries “They Bite!: The Making of Critters” and “For Brian: A Tribute to Screenwriter Domonic Muir.” These features include interviews with Dee Wallace, Scott Grimes, Don Opper, Terence Mann and Lin Shate.

CRITTERS 2: THE MAIN COURSE is a strong sequel, bringing back some of the original characters from the first film as well as adding a few new characters. One of the highlights of this film is the addition of actress Liane Curtis as Megan, the love interest to Scott Grimes’ Brad. Eggs left over from the first film, decorated as Easter eggs, begin to hatch and wreak havoc on the town. Ug, Lee and Charlie are also back. The Critters seem to have lost some of their edge here though, not being as scary as in the first film, with many of their scenes played for laughs. Barrie Corbin plays Sheriff Harv, replacing M. Emmet Walsh from the original film. The special features are once again a lot of fun to watch, my favorite having to do with the Chiodo Brothers and how they did the Critter effects.

CRITTERS 3 came out in 1991 and features the film debut of Leonardo DiCaprio. Though excellent in this film, he now seems to want to distance himself from the franchise. To save money, this film was filmed back to back with the sequel, CRITTERS 4. This film is not horrible in any way though it is more of a comedy than horror, the transition beginning in CRITTERS 2. Only a few of the original cast are back for this entry which is a shame. Though the series was definitely going downhill with each new film, this still had much to offer and is still enjoyable. This disc is also loaded with extras, all that are a joy to watch.

1992 saw the direct to video release CRITTERS 4. Once again no effort went into the movie posters, just using the same images modified. The quality continues to lesson but the film is still fun to watch. Don Opper and Terrence Mann both return once again reprising their rolls from all four films. Surprisingly, both Angela Bassett and Brad Dourif signed on with this film. This is also the first film not to take place on Earth but on a future space station instead. With each successive film, budget cuts were always evident, more so here than in the other three films. What suffers the most here are the Critters themselves. Their overall appearance is not as scary and the puppets have much less range of motion, a true disappointment. I did enjoy this film more than I anticipated and the special features again are worth watching in their entirety.

This is definitely a great set to have. It’s a great franchise and one that continues to this day. I am glad though that they only included the first four films in the series here. Shout! Factory has put together an awesome release here that is very reasonably priced for what you get. Add THE CRITTERS COLLECTION to your movie collection today!

~David Albaugh

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