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New Line Home Cinema presents
Critters 3 (1991)

Charlie: Do you believe in monsters?
Johnny: Yeah.
Charlie: Good.

- Don Opper, Joseph Cousins

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: September 03, 2003

Stars: Aimee Brooks, Leonardo DiCaprio, Don Opper
Other Stars: Katherine Cortez, John Calvin, Geoffrey Blake, Diana Bellamy, William Dennis Hunt, Frances Bay, Bill Zuckert, Joseph Cousins, Christian Cousins, Terrence Mann
Director: Kristine Peterson

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (language and horror violence)
Run Time: 01h:24m:44s
Release Date: August 05, 2003
UPC: 794043637322
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C CB-B- D-

DVD Review

Usually it is about the third film in a series, especially low-budget horror, where the ideas really start to run thin, the recurring characters have dwindled down to almost no one and the plots take a real nosedive. With Critters 3, most of these rules gleefully apply, and looking back through cinematic time the film only merits a curiosity blip because it marks the bigscreen debut of Leonardo DiCaprio. The only character to return from the first two films, which concerned The Crites (a marauding horde of furry aliens with sharp teeth and big appetites) is one-time bounty hunter/sheriff Charlie (Don Opper), who, since being left behind on Earth at the end of the second film, finds himself hunting the hungry critters all by himself.

Critters 3 operates under the flimsiest of all cockeyed screenplay no-no's, which is what I like to refer to as the "Convenient Coincidence Syndrome." Under CCS, movie characters who meet randomly in one location (in this case, Kansas) will of course be unexpectedly reunited far, far away (Los Angeles) at a key point during the story. In the insufferably lazy Critters 3 screenplay, a nice family (John Calvin, Aimee Brooks, Joseph/Christian Cousins) encounters an obnoxious rich guy (William Dennis Hunt) and his cocky son (DiCaprio) at a rest stop in Grovers Bend, Kansas (site of the first two films); in addition, the kids all meet Charlie (decked out like the gyro captain from Mad Max) who tells them all about the invading critters. Cut to yet another CCS moment a short while later, where we learn that the Los Angeles apartment building of the nice family is owned by the obnoxious rich guy who wants to evict everyone. Talk about a small world, or at least it is in lazy screenplay world.

Without those convenient contrivances I guess a film like this, one with a very narrow and limited range, would really have nowhere to go, and to connect all the loose links slightly there is (of course unbeknownst to the nice family) a handful of Crites that have attached themselves to the bottom of their dilapidated camper. Right on cue, the ravenous furballs end up causing all sorts of mayhem and trouble in the apartment building of the nice family, and we can only hope that Charlie shows up before it is too late. Or will he?

The thing that bugged me the most about Critters 3 was if you were to strip away the horrible, uninspired plot conveniences, the most basic element of the story (critters attacking the trapped residents of a nearly abandoned apartment building) is really not all that bad, at least for a low-budget horror/comedy. And the good news is that the Chiodo Brothers have unleashed their best-looking set of Critters this time around; the Crites actually stand and stretch and move their arms, and in general appear more naturally articulated than in the first two films, which only made me wish they were appearing in a better-written story. But instead we are treated to more of the same-old-same-old scenes featuring the Crites raiding someone's kitchen, attacking inanimate objects and rolling around like hairy soccer balls.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: C


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyesno

Image Transfer Review: The third time isn't the charm for New Line in the image transfer department, and though they have included prints in both 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen print as well as 1.33:1 full frame, the quality is for some reason or another not as good as on other titles in the series. Colors are rendered well, and the daylight sequences look appropriately bright and cheery, but it is the dark, indoor scenes where murky blacks and questionable contrast levels make a lot of the action tougher to follow. Some ringing and shimmer is evident, and there were more apparent nicks and scratches on this release than on the previous two.

It is a largely inconsistent transfer, in terms of quality, but it more often than not looks good, rather than bad.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: New Line has done an admirable thing for all fans of these mindless low-budget horror/comedies by releasing all four Critters titles with new, improved Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks, as well as a fine sounding 2.0 stereo surround mix. As with the other titles in the series, the 5.1 track is the preferred option, and supplies some surprisingly deep and resonant subwoofer activity, with a well-balanced dialogue track that is never overshadowed by score elements or the like. Imaging is adequate, with noticeable movement pans happening across the front channels, with the bulk of the voices anchored in the center. And as an added plus, the surround channels get more of a workout here than in previous installments.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Critters, Critters 2, Critters 4
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: No real extras to speak, other than a full set of trailers for all four Critters film, and a set of DVD-ROM accessible weblinks to New Line sites.

The disc is cut into 20 chapters, and includes optional English subtitles.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

This one lacks the humor (though it tries feebly) found in the first two Critters flicks, and even though the Crites themselves LOOK better, Critters 3 suffers from a bad case of the been-there-done-thats.


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