Annie, Marcia, Clifford, and Johnny must fight off the voracious furballs in Critters 3.
Critters 3 is the third in the series of B-grade horror films about the little furry aliens who emerge from their rock-like flying pods with ravenous appetites for food, especially humans. This film starts off with the usual improbable coincidences that occupy the plots of this kind of film. Clifford (John Calvin), a widower with his two children Annie (Aimee Brooks) and Johnny (Christian and Joseph Cousins) are on the way home from a family vacation when their old truck with a camper shell suffers a flat tire. Luckily, they are near a rest stop and pull in. While Clifford works on changing the flat tire, Johnny goes to play frisbee where he meets up with other kids including Josh Briggs (Leonardo di Caprio). When the frisbee goes over an embankment, Josh leads the kids down there to recover it. There they run into Charlie McFadden (Don Coffen), an alien hunter from the previous film, who was hiding out in a blind waiting for the critters, who he suspects are in the area. This gives Charlie a chance to reprise the basic plot of the previous film as he warns the kids about the critters and even gives Johnny a crystal that is supposed to glow when the aliens are present. When the kids return to the camper area, the kids are lectured by their parents for wandering off, especially Josh who is severely reprimanded by his stepfather (William Dennis Hunt) who has a luxurious camper parked next to Clifford. Meanwhile, the critters who have been hiding out in a trash bin, decide to get out of there and fly over to Clifford’s camper where they stow away under the truck frame.
Marcia is a chucks-wearing, motorcycle-riding handywoman.
The main location of the film now moves to an apartment building in Grover Springs where Clifford and the children live. Here we meet some of the other tenants including Frank (Geoffrey Blake), the obnoxious and lazy apartment superintendent hired by the new landlord to make the tenants want to move out, the elderly Mr. and Mrs. Menges, who are going to watch Annie and Johnny while Clifford goes on the road for a while, Marcia (Katherine Cortez) an independent and resourceful handywoman, and Rosalie (Diana Esteban) who first discovers the presence of the critters while doing her laundry. In this type of film, you can always tell who going to get eaten just by their behavior. So it is no surprise that Frank is the first to go, surprised by the critters in his basement apartment. The critters continue to search for food and start chasing after the rest of the building dwellers. Meanwhile Mr. Briggs, who turns out to be the new landlord of the apartment building shows up with the reluctant Josh to issue eviction notices to the entire building. The first thing he does is shut off the power to the building to harass the tenants, but of course by doing this he ends up running into the critters in the basement. By this time Rosalie has discovered the dead Frank, and the whole apartment is in a panic, trying to escape from the critters by going up to the crawl spaces in the roof of the building. The brave Marcia takes a major leadership role in fending off the aliens, and tries to escape the building which also has caught on fire in the basement by climbing on some cable wiring attached to the side of the building. Josh is reunited with Annie and Johnny and eventually Charlie shows up to help. The balance of the film is about how the tenants fight back to defeat the critters before they are attacked and eaten.
A critter (on the ladder) attacks Marcia’s foot as she tries to escape into the crawl space.
Critters 3 is nothing special as a horror, science fiction, or adventure film, but it is Leonardo di Caprio’s film debut, so you get a first glimpse of the many “kid with attitude” type of roles that are about to come. The only other actor with a notable performance is Katherine Cortez, who shows some spunk and heroics in her role as Marcia. There are a few attempts at humor, like the scene where the critters are attacking the landlord interspersed with a cooking show on the television set showing how to cut up a turkey, or when Charlie is mowing down some critters with his special gun intercut with a bowling match. There are a few weak attempts to give the critters some sort of personality, including on-screen titles when they communicate in critter talk with lines like “Dessert!” as they go to attack someone new, pass gas, or get into various food and packaged items in the Menges’ kitchen. The critters themselves are never really seen in a lot of closeup detail, and their main activities seem to be throwing little darts at people, making weird noises, and rolling or flying at people. There isn’t a lot of carnage or terrifying suspense so the film’s PG-13 rating is accurate. The ending credits include the set up for part 4, so obviously this film was part of a plan to continue the story for another episode.
Marcia climbs up the ladder to access the attic crawl space.
Marcia tries to seek help by climbing across the telephone and cable lines outside the apartment building.
Katherine Cortez in her role as the resourceful Marcia wears red high top chucks throughout the film along with a denim jacket and jeans. There are quite a few good closeup shots of her chucks during the course of the film. A lot of the film lighting is rather dark, and with no other character wearing anything distinctive, the shots of her tend to stand out. The best sequence is when Marcia tries to escape from the critter-infested apartment building by climbing across telephone cables that are suspended near the roof of the building. When one of the cables breaks, it ensnares one of her chucks and she is left suspended in the air, near a telephone booth.
When one of the cables breaks, it ensnares one of Marcia’s chucks, and she is left hanging near a telephone booth.
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