*. Or, Critters in Space. But since space is where they came from in the first place, and the alien angle was always kept in play in the other movies by the presence of the intergalactic bounty hunter Ug, going off-planet isn’t as big a jump as it would be in other horror franchises of the time, like Hellraiser: Bloodline, Leprechaun 4: In Space, and Jason X. But it’s also only fair to give the little furballs credit for being the first horror franchise I can think of to make this transition.
*. In my notes on Critters I mentioned that it was a movie made out of horror clichés but that nevertheless still worked. That’s the case again here, though I don’t think it works quite as well. Basically this movie is riffing off of Alien. Charlie has been frozen in a pod along with some Critter eggs, and is found floating in space by the scruffy crew of a salvage ship. They bring the pod on board and then head to a corporate space station to collect a finder’s fee. When they arrive at the station, however, it is deserted, and its nuclear core is melting down as the Critters hatch and go wild.
*. That’s a fair bit of plot to get through in just a short movie, and there’s actually more to it than this. There are also other borrowings, like a trip to a trash bin that’s modeled after the one in Star Wars. Indeed, there is so much going on here that I couldn’t follow it all. What was the significance of the experiments being done to create a bio-weapon? Did that relate somehow to bringing the Critters to the station? I feel like I missed something there.
*. While not as good as Critters or Critters 2, I at least thought this a better effort than Critters 3. What’s curious is that this movie follows as a direct sequel from Critters 3, even beginning here with the final minutes of the previous movie. But despite this connection, and the fact that they were filmed at the same time, this one feels completely different in tone. The comedy is almost all gone, and even Ug has turned into a bad guy. A transformation he only explains by saying that “things change.” Indeed they do.
*. Still, there are a few things that bring this up a notch from what you might expect. There’s one slightly gory kill, notable because the series has never gone for gore. There’s Angela Bassett and Brad Dourif as crew members. There’s an AI named Angela that only those of us with memories of early Windows operating systems may fully appreciate.
*. So not as bad as I was expecting, though I was expecting something very bad indeed. A horror classic it ain’t, but at least I didn’t have to suffer too much in hitting for the cycle.