Critters – “The Ballad of Billy Zane”

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 There were a few things I went into this movie unaware of. One, that it would genuinely scare me. Two, the possibility of gaining a new workout song for the rare gym trip. And best of all, I had no idea Critters would treat me to prime, 80’s Billy Zane. Say one thing about this movie, say it has Billy Zane sporting the “wrap your sweatshirt around the waist” look.

If you want to know my feelings on horror films be sure to read the first few paragraphs from my The Sacrament review (not so subtle plug!). Casper is my favorite “horror” film of all time. I’ve sent the people at TBS letters advocating Casper should be played twenty four hours straight on Halloween. One day, perhaps.

So the idea of tiny furry aliens invading a quiet farm town seemed harmless, and it probably is to anyone over the age of six, but I had to turn the light on half way through the movie. The “crites” steal a spaceship, forcing what I can only describe as a half human/half Jabba the Hutt creature, to hire bounty hunters. These two were the real deal. They had bodacious space guns, the ability to transform into a rock star, and would kill in my weekly bowling league.

As I understand it, this movie was a response to the popularity of Gremlins. The latter is definitely a better movie, but Critters I found to be much creepier. Just looking at the theatrical poster gives me the willies. The crites are balls of fur with a smile full of razors. It’s what I imagine the design would be if they were to ever make a Cheshire Cat horror flick. They attack like the spiders in Arachnophobia. Seemingly shot out of cannons, these little guys can end your existence in the blink of an eye. Zane took a flesh eating Furby to the stomach! It’s horrifying. At least Gremlins had the decency to give us Gizmo. There was a good mix of both comic relief and cuteness relief.

The acting was surprisingly good for what the movie was. When I watch actors in scary films all I’m really looking for is if they look frightened. That’s it. Especially with all the CGI we use today I understand it might be difficult to get worked up over a green screen. Just put in the effort. Don’t pull a Tara Reid like in Sharknado 2: The Second One. I mean come on Tara, it’s a sharknado for goodness sake.

You could do worse when staying in on a Saturday night. This coming fall I suggest giving Critters a try. You’ll scream, you’ll sigh. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry (E.T. fans will). The plot moves fast. They know we want the fur and they give them to us quick. Okay, not really. But the twenty minutes it takes for them arrive goes fast. There’s that 80’s vibe that stays with every movie from the decade. It’s like driving down to the shore, smelling that sea salt air. Not only is the ending satisfying, but it sets up for a sequel. Oh, just one sequel you ask? One sequel may be enough for that hack movie Gremlins. Critters consists of three sequels, four movies in all. Double its supposed better half! That counts for something, right?

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The Strain – “Loved Ones” and “The Third Rail”

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The Strain is not a good show. The actors are putting in some of the worst work of their career (I want to support my fellow “Bald Brother”, Corey Stoll, but him and his wig are making it difficult), the dialogue has more cheese in it than any calzone I’ve ever ordered, and much as I trust Guillermo when it comes to special effects, I can’t help but laugh every time I see The Master.

Yet I keep coming back, Sunday after bloody Sunday. If I don’t find out what happens at the end I’ll go crazy. As terribly written as they are, I’m invested in all the main characters. Eph, Fet, Setrakian, and Gus at least. I look forward to the showdown between Eph and his, now Strigoi, wife. I want Fett to live up to his true potential in this new, infested world. There are bigger plans for Gus whether he knows it or not, and I’m eager to see where his path leads. And most of all, I want to witness the end of Setrakian’s story. I want to continue seeing into his past and living in his present. Revenge is a dish best served cold, and Abraham has two dishes reserved especially for Eichorst and The Master.

You can’t change what you love. When it comes to post apocalyptic disaster stories, I’ll always support it. Even the amateur hour that is The Walking Dead maintains appeal. There’s nothing like seeing humanity have their world turned upside down.

Kelly is the new pupil of The Master, Gus has gone nomad, and the “Old Jew” wants to take on a nest full of Strigoi. Bring on the last two episodes.