Critters 2 Blu-ray Review

Man-Eating Dust Mops

There’s a wonderful irony in that Critters 2 takes place on Easter Sunday. Part of that comes from the Crite’s eggs, leftover from the first film (if inexplicably multiplied), turning the egg hunt tradition into a bloody fracas. Then there’s the continuation of Critters’ small town America theme, stronger here, with a dynamic rejection of outsider culture.

Grover’s Bend Kansas is a Christian hotspot. Their church is right off Main street in downtown. Time stopped for Grover’s Bend sometime in the ‘50s, making for a setting with a quaint throwback, if uneasiness for big city culture. Here, small businesses still line the roads, not corporate giants, and fast food isn’t served by golden arches, but the Hungry Heifer (and their gratingly catchy jingle). Quaint – a perfect setting to mutilate.

Since the first Critters though, there’s a shift in the town. Sustained by beer and the pages of Playboy, the local teens turned against the religious morality. It’s clear the townsfolk see the change. Brad (and only Brad) who saved this farming community in the original movie travels back for the holiday, rejected by the citizens who see his stories of alien monsters as a threat.

… more people means more chaos. That’s the Critters way.

That all comes to a head later. Of course the Crites return, beginning their rampage by chewing on the local sheriff, tossing him through the church’s main window in front of everyone. Easter is done for in that singular moment; having the sheriff dressed as the Easter Bunny begins the horror/comedy laughs.

Critters 2 isn’t as well written as the first. Some of its lines send the cornball meter past its maximum (“Who we gonna call? Critter Busters?”) and the homage to the horror/sci-fi of the ‘50s is rendered moot. If anything, with its climax of torch-wielding villagers, Critters 2 appreciates the Universal monsters.

What salvages the entertainment value is a significantly richer budget. That means more than eight Crites. Now it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 100. They wreck stuff en masse, and their mayhem is delightful. Some cartoon gags lighten the mood too, including a Crite biting into a tire, expanding from the air, then being smashed flat. Much of this is set during the day too, eschewing horror for something breezier, in spite of the gore.

Enthusiasm isn’t lost however. It’s a motivated sequel, a bit campier if no less kooky than the first. Better still is keeping that middle America setting and finding a way to enliven things. Critters 2 betters Critters in that way, allowing the flavor to expand beyond the troubles of a single family. And more people means more chaos. That’s the Critters way.

Video

Bright contrast is the highlight here, that coming from the budget that keeps things out in daylight. When night does fall, black levels perform as necessary, adding weight to the shadows and keeping images dense.

Scream/Shout Factory gives Critters 2 a beautiful, clean overall presentation. The print used isn’t marred by damage. Encode work keeps a pristine grain structure organic. Consistency in resolving the film stock is impressive.

Behind that clarity is excellent definition. Facial detail stands out, and the town’s old-timey wooden aesthetic is preserved on this Blu-ray. Sharpness doesn’t waver. Crite puppets never looked so textured.

By way of the Easter setting, dazzling pastel colors fill the screen. Generous saturation flushes the screen with primaries and flesh tones follow suit. Greenery appears bright and healthy. This is great stuff.

Audio

Married to a DTS-HD 2.0 mix, work here frequently employs discrete channels to stretch the soundstage. Sounds pans between speakers as cars or alien ships pass the frame. Crites mumble and screech in a specific channel. Having a few of those rear channel cues back from Critters wouldn’t hurt however, the cost of moving down to stereo.

Fidelity stays vibrant overall, especially with the opening credits and a booming score. Dynamics reach the limit for a 1988 production, with clean bass support. Dialog clarity sits in place without wavering.

Extras

Two commentaries feature in the audio selection menu. There’s director Mike Garris going solo on the first, with the special effects team Chiodo Brothers in on the second.

The Main Course follows, running just over an hour and delving into the process of this sequel. This all new material and interviews, every bit of it superb. Scenes from the TV cut get preserved, but the abysmal, rotting VHS quality is unfortunate. Better than not having them though. Some footage behind-the-scenes runs 23-minutes, made up of local news reports and raw set tapes. Trailers and a stills gallery mark the endpoint.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Critters 2
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras

Movie

Critters 2 finds a use for its bigger budget, expanding the small town theme, the Crite mayhem, and the laughs in a fun sequel.

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