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Film Title: Critters 2
Release Date: 1988
Runtime: 86 minutes
Region Coding: Region A
Studio: Scream Factory (Shout! Factory)
Audio Format: DTS-HD MA 5.1 & 2.0
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Formats Available: Blu-ray
Version Reviewed: Blu-ray (included in “The Critters Collection“)
Blu-ray Release Date: 11/27/18
Director: Mick Garris
Cast: Scott Grimes, Liane Curtis, Don Keith Opper, Terrence Mann, Lin Shaye, Sam Anderson, Barry Corbin, Tom Hodges, Douglas Rowe, Eddie Deezen, Frank Birney, David Ursin, Herta Ware
EDITOR NOTE: This is a review for the first one of the four films included in “The Critters Collection“ Blu-ray Disc box set, from Scream Factory. I am splitting these reviews up for each film, instead of making one very lengthy single review for the set.
“Critters 2” (a.k.a. “Critters 2: The Main Course”) was the 1988 sequel to the film “Critters“ (1986). The film was directed by Mick Garris, best known for also directing the TV movie “Psycho IV: The Beginning” (1990), the film adaptation of Stephen King’s “Sleepwalkers“ (1992) and the TV mini-series adaptation of “The Stand” (1994). Garris is also known for writing the screenplay to the Disney film “Hocus Pocus” (1993).
This film features a lot of the same cast members returning in the same roles. The plot takes place a few years after the events that took place in the first film. The young boy “Brad Brown” (Scott Grimes) from that first film has returned home to Grover’s Bend – a fictional town. It’s safe to say that the town isn’t too excited that he’s back, nor have they forgotten about the incident. From the very minute that Brad steps foot off the bus the local newspaper reporter “Sal” (Lin Shaye) across the street thinks she needs to report a breaking story about his return. The town’s newspaper editor “Mr. Morgan” (Sam Anderson) tells her to do no such thing, and to leave the boy alone.
Brad, now fifteen, has returned to town just for the weekend to spend Easter with his grandmother. Meanwhile, across town a young boy has stumbled onto a batch of leftover unhatched “Krite” eggs (“Critters”) that he manages to sell to a guy. What’s even more fun, in a very dark ironic sense, is that it just so happens to be right when an Easter egg hunt is about to take place in the small little town. This town of Grover’s Bend has only had a few years to recuperate after the last time these little critters came to visit, and now they’re about to have some familiar guests all over again. Plus the alien bounty hunters trying to track these little guys down, played by Terrence Mann (“Ug”) and Don Keith Opper (“Charlie”), have been ordered to return to earth and capture the alien Krite eggs before they hatch and become Critters.
Brad now sports a rockin’ eighties earring in one ear, plus like every-other kid in that decade: has been taking karate. During an incident Brad ends up crossing paths with a teenage girl named “Megan Morgan” (Liane Curtis) that remembers him, from before he moved away. Megan’s father Mr. Morgan runs the town’s newspaper, where she works as an aspiring reporter along with Sal. Sal makes efforts to let the town’s former Sheriff “Harv” (Barry Corbin) aware that “Brad Brown is back in town,” but he doesn’t want to think one bit of the events from 2 years ago and those pesky Critters. Namely, because the sheriff wasn’t played by Corbin in the first film? Kidding aside, I just felt that to be worth pointing out. The guy who bought the eggs unknowingly sells them to none-other than Brad’s grandmother. You can just imagine what kind of of events end up happening in this little Easter horror.
The addition of another bounty hunter, plus the two original bounty hunters back, and a lot of the returning cast equals a pretty good sequel in my book. The Chiodo brothers returning to to the special effects with the “Critters” themselves was the biggest reason to want to see this. Those guys would go on to do their own little film that very same year: “Killer Klowns from Outer Space“ (1988). I have to say that I actually almost enjoy this Critters sequel as much as the first film, even as comical as it is. Admit it, this film focused more on the comedic approach to things more than the horror than the first film did.
Movie Rating: 3.75 (out of 5)
According to the technical specifications listed on IMDb this was shot on 35MM film. This is presented in the original theatrical 1.85:1 aspect ratio. “Critters 2” has received a new 2K scan of the original film elements.
There is a healthy amount of film grain preserved visibly here throughout. I don’t find their to be all too many visual imperfections left on the film print via this new 2K scan, but there are some occasional tiny bits of dirt or specs, which are not at all bothersome. The black level here is pretty solid, with the color palette coming across vibrant with a large emphasis on the color red. In regards to the color, the flesh tones appear accurate.
The visual special effects here hold up rather well for a film that was released in 1988. Some scenes look a bit rough compared to others, even with wires and such visible. In regards to looking rough, this also can be the case especially some darker ones around 54 minutes in. There’s also a really rough scene near the end of the film that has some visual imperfections that are a tad bit too much, and slightly prove to be bothersome for a few seconds. Still, in fairness, it’s not enough to deduct that much from the overall rating or knock from the presentation, it’s just something to be aware of. The gore here is a bit more intense thanks to this sequel keeping a PG-13 rating, like the first film.
Visually this new transfer has a pretty nice amount of detail, especially in some of the close up shots. Overall “Critters 2” doesn’t look just as impressive as the film it’s a sequel to, even if both received new 2K scans. This sequel just seems to look a tiny bit rougher than the first film. However, it still delivers a pretty solid visual presentation in high definition here on Blu-ray.
Video Quality Rating: 4 (out of 5)
Audio here is presented in DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio Stereo. Unlike the case with the first film on Blu-ray, you don’t get a 5.1 mix this time around with the sequel (nor the other sequels). It’s not surprising considering that this had an Ultra Stereo mix during the film’s original theatrical run.
This lossless Stereo mix is pretty solid, with the film’s original music starting things off in the opening credits nicely. The music composed by Nicholas Pike sounds good here throughout. Sound effects, starting with footsteps, come across convincingly enough and crystal clear. Effects can get pretty intense during explosions and such, as we as get a tad bit comical at times later in the film. It’s one effective audio presentation, that’s for sure.
Dialogue is delivered distinctly throughout, never once did I have to make any volume adjustments. Near the end of the film, the really big action scenes sound good, and the music sounds just as good all throughout (setting the vibe). It’s a pretty well done lossless Stereo mix that you get here, and one that does this film justice in terms of an audio presentation.
Audio Quality Rating: 4 (out of 5)
Bonus materials on this release are presented in HD video with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound – unless otherwise noted below. This disc contains bonus content specific to this film only, which is includes the following:
- NEW Audio Commentary with Director Mick Garris
- NEW Audio Commentary with Critters Designers Charles Chiodo, Edward Chiodo and Stephen Chiodo
- NEW “The Main Course: The Making of Critters 2“ (1:03:00 – HD) includes interviews with Mick Garris (Director), Barry Opper (Producer), Terrence Mann (“Ug”), Charles Chiodo, Edward Chiodo, Stephen Chiodo (“Critters” Design & Supervision), R. Christopher Biggs (Special Make-Up Effects Supervisor), Liane Curtis (“Megan”), Lin Shaye (“Sal”), Don Opper (“Charlie”), and Dee Wallace (“Helen Brown” in the first film). You’ll see a lot of footage from the film here between the interviews, as well as some on set footage and photos. There’s discussion here of how it never was even considered to bring back the parents or the original town sheriff from the first film back for the sequel. One reason they didn’t try to bring back so many characters we learn is because actor M. Emmet Walsh turned down the offer. Actress Dee Wallace chimes in that she was never even asked to be in the film. So, they explain how we have a new actor playing the sheriff “Harv” in this film, in comparison to the original and why his parents weren’t back. Lastly, despite the back of the packaging stating it: there is no interview here with the film’s star Scott Grimes.
- “TV Cut Additional Scenes” (13:09 – HD) comes from a very, very rough VHS source and the sound quality isn’t that great either on any of these scenes. Still, this proves to be fun to see the scenes that weren’t included in the theatrical cut of the film, as they’re a tad bit more than deleted scenes. Just be prepared to suffer through some very rough footage.
- “Behind The Scenes Footage” (23:49 – HD) comes from a VHS source, and has some narration done to appear as TV crew but appears to have really been done for promotional purposes. You’ll see a lot of on set footage and the little “Critters” in action. The Chiodo brothers are interviewed early on here, and demonstrate how the puppets work in this film. “State of the art technology” is what the brothers claim was behind the creatures on this film. I’ll let you be the judge of that. The film’s Director Mick Garris is interviewed next, letting us know what to expect from the sequel. Garris also talks a bit about working as a writer originally on the TV show “Amazing Stores“ (1985-1987) where he was lucky enough to be having his work directed by legends early in his career. It’s obvious, as he even somewhat mentions, that working with Amblin Entertainment (Steven Spielberg’s company) in ways prepared him for his career as a director. You get all kinds of interviews here, even from the “Critters” themselves at times. Thankfully the whole TV crew interview approach is short lived, but it’s tastefully done. The rest of this featurette is comprised of more interviews from the Chiodo brothers discussing their creature effects, actual home video style on set footage during the making of the film. You’ll get to see how some of the stunts were done, test footage, and such here. This proves to be a really lengthy, informative, and entertaining archival featurette. It’s very nice to see this included. The Chiodo brothers are actually the ones responsible for this footage, as it says at the end.
- Theatrical Trailer (1:40 – HD) actually doesn’t look that bad, and it is presented in a correct widescreen aspect ratio.
- TV Spot (0:32 – HD) looks absolutely crappy, and not just because it’s from a VHS source. Still, it’s fun to look back on this for a bit of the sake of nostalgia.
- Still Gallery (3.05 – HD) will play as a slideshow, however you can use the chapter skip buttons on your remote to skip through images. Realize though, you will have to hit pause on the remote once you find an image you want to look at for more than 5 seconds or so. There’s a lot photographs from behind-the-scenes, of publicity stills from the film, as well as artwork in the form of mostly posters for film (from numerous countries) and even artwork for a few previous home video releases.
Overall the bonus materials here are pretty thorough, when you combined the hour-long new featurette, the two new audio commentary tracks and the additional roughly 40 minutes or so of archival material. It’s a solid set of extras that will leave fans of this sequel pleased.
Bonus Materials Rating: 4 (out of 5)
“Critters 2” was a good sequel, but not as good as the first film. As I said in the review for the first film, these films have developed a cult-following and spawned a franchise with a total of three sequels – included in this “The Critters Collection“ Blu-ray Disc box set release. The video and audio presentation on this second film (“Critters 2”) is solid and almost as impressive as that found on the first film.
As far as this sequel goes: “You’ve got nothing to lose, but your lives” as is said in the film, if you don’t enjoy this. However, this “Critters” sequel actually has a nice bit of returning cast members and such so that it feels a bit similar to the first film, in some ways. Mostly though, this sequel is more of a comedy with some horror elements thrown in: the other way around than with the first film, that focused primarily on an horror approach. Personally, I like both of the first two “Critters” films almost equally – keyword almost.
In terms of Blu-ray release, this gets:
4 (out of 5) for video quality
4 (out of 5) for audio quality
3.5 (out of 5) for bonus materials