The Critters Collection [Blu-Ray]

After almost twenty years basically out of print, us “Critters” fans spent the better part of the digital age celebrating our favorite movie series on DVD. And not just any DVD, but a basically cheap transfer DVD that stuffed all four movies on to a few DVDs. Granted you could have done worse, but the movie series deserved so much better. The “Critters” series remains one of the more underrated creature features in horror, and it finally gets the royal treatment on Blu-Ray. With a hard shell casing, all four movies come packed, along with a humongous plethora of bells and whistles. This is the collection I as a hardcore fan, have been waiting for. It’s also a good thing that the “Critters” movies are a lot of good, gory, monstrous fun.

1986’s “Critters” is still a simple but fun horror sci-fi based on the Hopkinsville Goblin case. When a space ship crash lands on Earth, alien creatures known as Krites wreak havoc on a small farm house. The Brown family now has to survive the night and find a way to destroy the creatures that garner an insatiable appetite, large teeth, porcupine like quills, and the ability to strategize. Starring Scott Grimes and Don Opper, “Critters” is a lot of fun, with a very strong effort to build them as imposing and terrifying sentient beings that will eat literally anything. The Blu-Ray for “Critters” features two commentaries, one with visual effects team the Chiodo Brothers, and another with Barry and Don Opper, the producers and the star of the film. There’s also the wonderful “They Bite,” an exhaustive and extensive documentary about the film that is almost as long as the movie itself.

It’s another in a long line of original Scream Factory documentaries. There’s a twenty one minute tribute to writer Dominic Murr, as well as some raw footage from the original production. Finally there’s the alternate ending, the original trailers, and a stills gallery.

“Critters 2: The Main Course” is a childhood favorite, and destroys all attempts to make the krites horrific monsters and embraces the inherent silliness, transforming them in to cheeseburger craving monsters with gaping maws, giant teeth, and new abilities, including the power to chase after people, and in the climax, are capable of building a giant Krite ball. With the two space bounty hunters back on Earth looking for them, Brad Brown from the original film returns home, forced to confront his old foes and help the bounty hunters put an end to their reign of terror. The Blu-Ray features two commentaries, one with director Mick Garris, and the other with special effects team the Chiodo Brothers. “The Main Course” is an hour long documentary that explores the process of making this sequel, and the development process with brand new interviews and information. There is even some raw footage from old VHS tapes and what not that features behind the scenes footage and local news footage. Finally there are the original trailers and a stills gallery.

The less than stellar “Critters 3” is a new direction for the “Critters” movie series as the krites invade a housing unit after laying eggs under the car of a traveling family. The 1991 sequel is less than memorable and a pretty clumsy follow up overall. I wish we’d been given more original and interesting material, and “Critters 3” doesn’t do a whole lot, save for changing its location. It at least is famous for starring a very young Leonardo DiCaprio. The Blu-Ray features a commentary track with Barry and Don Opper, the producer and co-star of the series. “You Are What They Eat” is a twenty six minute look at how the movie came to be, and how it became a direct sequel. There are also original trailers, and stills from the movie.

Finally, “Critters 4” also known with the subtitle “They’re Invading Your Space” is the classic direction that all ailing movie franchises go in. This horror sequel with the krites is set in space. Technically the krites are already from space, and this sequel is set directly after the third film where the remaining Krite eggs are taken to a space station years in to the future. With Charlie now ordered by his fellow bounty hunter Ug to preserve the eggs, he brings them aboard a massive ship. There, the eggs are accidentally thawed and begin wreaking havoc on the crew. This is a limp finisher to the series with a lot of disappointing turns, including turning Ug in to the villain who is no longer committed to saving people. At the very least, there is an appearance by a young Angela Bassett in a supporting role. Director Rupert Harvey offers an audio commentary track for the film, and there’s another twenty two minute Making Of titled “Space Madness” which explores the making of the sequel. Finally there are trailers and full color stills.