Halloween Scene: Critters 2 (1988)

Most of my experience with the Critters franchise comes from seeing the boxes of the four films at the video store as a kid and thinking they looked pretty damn creepy. All fur, red eyes and teeth, how could they not be? Well, the films I’ve seen so far — the first one a few years back and now the sequel — do a pretty good job of making the Krites seem not so creepy.

The Critters movies are odd. They’re obviously Gremlins rip-offs, but instead of just borrowing the basic premise and getting on with it, these mini monsters are aliens who are hunted down by intergalactic, shape shifting bounty hunters. Sounds pretty cool, right? Well, it is and as I said when I reviewed the first film, the sci-fi stuff is actually pretty well done. What keeps these movies from being great and unique is the goofy tone that undercuts the horror and doesn’t seem to achieve the right balance. It works in something like Shaun of the Dead where you go from jokey moments to full on gore, but the structure and direction isn’t here. I’m guessing, though, that it wasn’t intended to be a great film or rival the amazing Gremlins in story, so they just kind of went with it.

The story revolves around the kid from the first one returning to his home town of Grover’s Bend a few years after the events of the first one. He gets there just in time for a batch of Krite eggs to start hatching. The bounty hunters from the first one also return to destroy the eggs — which the townspeople have painted for Easter — and shenanigans ensue.

At the end of the day, the results aren’t bad, they just don’t match up with the story I created in my head after seeing the box. That said, there are still some pretty solid gore scenes and a good deal of the little buggers get smashed, blown up, set on fire and stepped on, so that’s fun. I should also note, while the film doesn’t take itself too seriously, the creature effects actually do look pretty great. This isn’t just little people in funny robes like Troll 2, but actual puppets doing all kinds of things.

And that’s really the key to this movie, fun. It doesn’t take itself so serious and it comes across. Critters isn’t what I would call required watching for a horror fan by any means, but they’re with checking out with some friends and some beers (man, a lot of my reviews end like that, don’t they?).

Halloween Scene: Critters (1986)

Gah, damn you Ruins for taking up so many of the last few hours of today, you almost made me miss my self-imposed schedule of posting about something horror every day (the Star Wars Death Troopers thing doesn’t count). Okay, so as I mentioned a few weeks ago, I scored three Critters VHS tapes at a flea market. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen Critters, even as a kid, but I remember being amazed by the box art of the tape at the video store. Anyway, the box art is much cooler than the movie. I guess it’s aimed at a younger audience and I’m not young anymore, so it didn’t really keep my attention.

See, the plot of the movie is that these aliens called Krites escape a space prison (maybe it’s the same one from Star Slammer. They land on Earth and then these shapeshifting bounty hunters follow to take them back. It takes a little while to get going and then it’s not all that thrilling, like I said, aimed at kids and featuring a proto-Forrest Gump who swears he knew the aliens were coming. I hear he’s the star of the next few movies. It wasn’t a great movie, but it was good enough for me to at least want to watch the next three movies in the series, though I can’t promise I’ll still be saying that after another movie or two.

One thing I did want to mention is that I was surprised at how good the movie looks. They don’t cheap-out on the space prison or the space ship. I mean, they’re not mind-blowing, but they’re pretty good. Then the actual Krites look cool. I mean, they’re Tribbles with mouths, but they’re still pretty scary Tribbles with mouths. The gore was light, which again is understandable because this is like a kid’s movie. Gremlins super-light basically. I think I would ad Critters 1 and 2 movie posters to my man cave in a heartbeat. Also, this was definitely not my mystery Mini Monster movie. Damn, gotta keep looking.

Whew, made it!

Flea Market Shenanigans

Boy, did I have a red neck weekend. Em’s parents were in town and they’re always down for some yard sailing and flea market attending so we attended two separate ones AND a demolition derby. Stay tuned for tons of demo derby pics tomorrow, but right now, I want to share some experiences and pictures with you from the flea market we went to on Saturday morning at the Stormville Airport. Technically it was a giant garage sell, which means it’s just regular people selling their junk and boy was there a lot of junk. Since I’ve recently found myself sans full time job, Em and I decided to spend little to know money and I think we only spent about $5, but it was a ton of fun and I even got some rad stuff.

As always we got there pretty early, but I think that was a benefit because you never know who might buy the Michael Jackson bust. Anyway, more on that later. Right now, check out these really weird celebrity paintings. You can see Alias’ Jennifer Garner in this particular photo and there were about a dozen others, some I actually recognized, others, now way, even though they had the actor’s name on some of them. Scarlett Johansson’s was pretty terrible.

It was a good show for paintings actually as you can see in these next two pics. Right after passing the table with the above weird celebrity paintings we got near this van with several larger painting leaning up against it. You can see a painting on the far left which I think is called Little Boy Blue or some such. As a side note, this is what a lot of the various lots look like, with a van, car, table or blanket holding all of the junk people want to get rid of. But what really caught my attention was that painting to the right, can you see it?

How about a better look? Yeah, there you go. It just looks like an old ass lady crawling towards a creepy sunset in a desert with a rock or two and one flower. I really like the sparseness of it. You can tell the artist was really reaching into his inner depths. Oh, wait, actually I love the bat shit craziness of this thing. If I had my way, it would be hanging in my place right now, but, well I don’t and it’s not, so hopefully someone else picked it up or I can grab it when I finally get my man cave.

I took this picture because I thought this guy who was wearing orange crocs and riding around on a Razor scooter looked lame. But, I also captured a pretty awesome moment in the background where the old woman who had just finished demonstrating how to play the accordion her and her husband were selling. It was a pretty rad performance, which is what stopped me at their table in the first place. Oh and that bass amp in the bottom right hand corner that I was too chicken to ask about. I couldn’t find the damn booth again to ask later, so I suck. I currently don’t have a bass amp in NY because the one I have back in Ohio is way too big.

Well, here’s my favorite thing from the whole day (and that includes the demolition derby). As you can see it’s a Michael Jackson bust with a bunch of chips taken out of it and a Pee Wee Herman doll next to it. I think they were charging $30 or 40 for MJ. That’s another thing I would have purchased, you know, if it was just $5, but whatever. I’m sure someone made off with it and I envy them. It kind of looks like MJ is whispering sweet nothings or kill lists into Pee Wee’s ears, doesn’t it?

As you know, I’m a big horror fan. As a kid, I remember going into different stores and seeing these really intricate and disgusting rubber Halloween masks that would scare the crap out of me (like, WAY scarier than the ones in AWESOME Halloween 3). As a result I still get pretty jazzed anytime I see masks. The ones at this space weren’t that cool, but they look pretty creepy all laid out on a blanket like this, don’t they?

This is just a shot of one of the aisles. There’s basically two really long aisles with rows on each side, a few food booths (carny food, mostly), porta potties and tons of people bumping into each other with their carts. The place used to be an old airfield, so there’s a lot of space. If you’re in the not-upstate New York area, you should definitely check it out. Also, of note, I tried to take most of these pics on the sly, but this one was clearly seen by the lady who looks like she’s trying to dodge my picture like it’s a bullet being fired at Neo in the Matrix.

Here you have a Daewoo VCR. I took this picture solely for Rickey, who drives a car made by Daewoo, a company that makes just about everything else in the world. As you can see they do VCRs, my inlaws’ microwave and a back hoe I used to see tearing scrap metal apart on my train ride into the city. I don’t think I’ve ever seen another Daewoo automobile, but I’m sure when it starts breaking down, my inlaws will be happy to scrap their microwave to help him out.

Here’s one of those pictures that I didn’t really get all that well because I didn’t want it to be super obvious that I was taking a picture of this guy’s creepy stuffed polar bear. I’m REALLY hoping it’s just a toy or something, but decide for yourself, that’s it on the far right of the image. I’m still not completely unconvinced this little dude wasn’t in the background of Cliffhanger.

Like I said in the beginning I did spend some money at the flea market, $3 to be exact. I spent $1 on these three original Masters of the Universe figures (that’s He-Man to you less nerdy folks). I was pretty jazzed to see them. Here you’ve got Grizzlor, Hordak and Jitsu. I was especially excited because these figures are complete except for their weapons, which is no big deal. And yeah, Grizz is actually furry, like a troll doll, but radder. He also looks like he’s ready to bust a move at any point and there’s nothing you can do about it.

And here’s my final purchase, Critters 1, 2, and 4 on tape. I was always fascinated by the boxes to 1 and 2 when I was a kid wandering through the video store. I love the art and will probably be drawing my version of the cover to 1 in the next couple days. I’m also hoping that I might find my elusive mini monster movie. Oh, and also, the fourth one is in SPACE! It worked for leprechaun, why not Critters?

Lastly, I want to let you fine readers know that a woman with a booth is the reason you won’t be hearing the hot beats that have been pounding in my skull lately. I went to buy a Yamaha drum machine that would have probably driven me crazy because it sounded old and tin-y, but whatever, I pulled out my $5 to hand to her and the woman said no and put the drum machine back behind the table. Bullshit, right? I think so. So, what I’m really asking is if anyone has a drum machine or keyboard I can have. Holla!

In Search of a Mini Monster With a Ball

Okay, so as many of you know, I’m a big fan of horror movies. For the most part horror flicks remained a terrifying mystery that I didn’t want anything to do with until I turned 14 and could ride my bike up to the nearby Family Video where you could get six tapes for $3 and the clerks were pretty lax when it came to checking IDs.

But, I actually saw my first horror movie years earlier. Well, the REAL first horror movie I saw was on accident when my parents were out of town and the babysitter had some friends over to watch Evil Dead. I happened to come downstairs during the infamous tree rape scene. Actually, that night is probably why I wanted nothing to do with horror movies. I was scarred.

But, back to the whole point of this post. The first full horror movie I remember seeing involved some kind of tiny monster and a ball bouncing down the steps. I always assumed it was Troll or Troll 2, but I just checked both flicks out last week and I was surprised to find that I had no recollection of either flick. It’s obviously not either of the Gremlins movies and I thought it wasn’t Leprechaun, which I’ve seen in the past few years and didn’t seem to remember either.

So, I’m at a loss. I’ve got the first two Ghoulies movies from Netflix and have gone through the first one. No luck again. Maybe it’s Critters? Rickey suggested a Stephen King anthology flick called Cat’s Eye that’s luckily on Netflix Instant. Anyone else got any suggestions? I know the description is hardly helpful, but maybe someone else has a suggestion I can check out. I’m having a great time going through these mini monster movies.