CRITTERS 2 (1988)
Directed by Mick Garris
Starring: Terrence Mann, Don Keith Opper, Cynthia Garris, and Scott Grimes
I may be in the minority here, but I actually prefer Critters 2 to the original. Maybe it's because I saw this film first. Maybe it's because the film had a larger budget and could pull off more elaborate effects and more over-the-top humour. Maybe it's because, as a young boy, I witnessed Roxanne Kernohan's huge breasts burst out of her leather suit and I realized with divine clarity that I would forever be from that day forward a devote breast man. It's probably best that we don't look too much into this. I really like Critters 2.
The hungry, spine-shooting alien furballs are back for seconds! And who can be surprised? After the first film ended with that lingering shot of preserved Krite eggs incubating in a barn, a sequel was all but inevitable. Critters 2 comes in a few years after the krites first attacked. Since then, the Brown family has moved out of Grover's Bend to escape the scrutiny and ridicule of their neighbors. However, Brad Brown (Scott Grimes reprising his role) returns to his hometown to visit with his Grandmother for Easter. Little does he suspect that a batch of Krite eggs have been uncovered and placed carelessly close to a warm, gestation-friendly stove. Inadvertent incubation occurs, and soon a new generation of carnivorous alien hairbags hatch. With the help of his old pals the Alien Bounty Hunters (don't forget Charlie), Brad attempts to prevent the hungry jaws of the Krites from devouring all of Grover's Bend....again.
|Oh no! This shit again?|
While I contend that the original Critters is surprisingly violent for a PG-13 creature film, Critters 2 certainly ups the ante in terms of violence and sexual content. The Krites get a lot more screen time this go around, and their designs are much improved and full of personality. They also pull off bloodier kills. The one everyone remembers is the death of the town Sheriff. Not the lovable Sheriff Harv (now played by Barry Corbin) from the firstmovie. No, the Krites tangle this time with the new Sheriff (David Ursin) who is roped into playing the Eater Bunny at a church function. Unfortunately, he can't get the zipper of his bunny suit to close and a bunch of baby Krites hop in to chow down on his meat and two veg. While we don't see the actual feast, when next we see the Sheriff his body (still in the bunny suit) comes crashing through a church window and sprawls out bloody and dead for all the traumatized parishioners to see.
|What do we tell the kids? I know! T'was a farm accident!|
Other people end up on the menu as well, leaving behind a trail of bloody corpses like discarded bones at an all-you-can-eat rib buffet. While we see the Krites bite into people here and there, most of the shocking violence is seen in their aftermath. In the film's final set piece, the Krites form together into a giant ball of fur and hungry mouths. Several townsfolk get run over and, well, let's just say they won't be having open-casket funerals.
|Not only did they take the shirt of his back but the skin as well!|
I'm a gore fan, don't get me wrong, but the real reason Critters 2 holds such a special place in my horror heart comes down to one woman: Roxanne Kernohan. As in the first film, Ug and Lee are Alien Bounty Hunters with the ability to shapeshift. Ug (Terrance Mann) has a preferred look (that of an 80s rock star). Lee, however, can't decide on a form and is constantly replicating the people he sees. When they arrive on Earth in Critters 2, Lee finds the image of a nude centerfold. Suddenly, Lee starts to transform. His chest begins to swell and expand. Slowly, two large, full, glorious, gravity-defying breasts tear through his leather outfit. When the camera pulls back Lee has turned into a blond bombshell: nude model Roxanne Kernohan. And she's got a big techno-cannon with a barrel that extends when she activates it (suggestive!). You don't see a lot of full-frontal breasts in PG-13 films these days, but that scene awoke something in me at an early age. I still find the whole transformation scene quite fascinating to this day.
Unfortunately, Roxanne Kernohan doesn't stay topless for long. Slipping into a very revealing leather outfit, she goes about killing Krites sans mercy. Then, to completely screw with prepubescent boys everywhere, she transforms again.
She goes from this:
|LIFE IS CRUEL|
Ladies and gentlemen, the erotic face of actor/comedian Eddie Deezen. Deezen plays the manager of burger joint in Critters 2, and Bounty Hunter Lee takes his form for a brief time. Thankfully, Lee turns back into Roxanne Kernohan for the character's last appearance, but still .... why ruin a good thing?
Not only does Critters 2 crank up the gore and the sex, but it also cranks up the comedy. The Krites take a steep slide from vicious furballs to ridiculous goofballs. Much like the Gremlins in Joe Dante's 1984 film, the Krites get up to all sorts of wacky puppet hi-jinks. They munch on telephone wires, they invade a burger joint, and they eat hamburger patties. They fall into deep fryers and get the tops of their heads singed bald, to which one Krite exclaims, "Bitchin!" For the tone of this film, however, the silliness works. In order to get mileage out of the Krites for a sequel, you have to go over-the-top by necessity. And I still maintain that the Krites are far more interesting in design and character than any of the other Gremlins ripoffs (I'm calling you out Ghoulies! Stay in the toilet where you belong)
Critters 2 is just a lot of fun. Cheap, disposable, grotesque fun. Literally based on that tried and true formula of tits and giggles, Critters 2 embraces the inherent silliness of its premise and gives horror-comedy fans a film that's just this side of Troma on the bizzaro scale. Director Mick Garris gets a lot of shit for his disappointing Stephen King adaptations, but with Critters 2 at least he nailed it.
A version of this review originally appeared on monsterchiller.blogspot.com