The CRITTERS saga has never been recognized as the Oscar-worthy masterpiece that it truly is (GREEN BOOK be damned). The 1986 sci-fi-horror mashup in which hairy, spike-ladened space creatures called Crites come to Earth to satisfy their insatiable hunger for flesh only to be hunted down by bounty hunters from Outer Space didn’t exactly scream “quality” but it was fun enough for fans and begat a cult following that lives on over 30-years later. The film spawned 3 sequels, all of varying degrees of creative success and execution are mostly noted for starring a young Leonardo DiCaprio (CRITTERS 3) and a young Angela Bassett (Critters 4) in roles they have most likely excluded from their acting resumes. CRITTERS also has the unfortunate distinction as being thought as a GREMLINS ripoff (although the CRITTERS script was shopped well before GREMLINS) which may have contributed to people writing off the series as a whole. While talk of new GREMLINS movie comes up, what seems like every six months since the 1990 sequel, talk of a CRITTERS follow-up has been virtually non-existent since the abysmal 1991 CRITTERS 4-save for one awesome fanmade trailer from…
Enter Shudder. One month after their outstanding HORROR NOIRE documentary, the streaming service debuts eight 10-minutes shorts that continue the story of the Crites. CRITTERS: A NEW BINGE follows the space porcupines as their latest assignment brings them back to Earth to rescue the last remaining Crite. Most of the series criticism targets the shift in tone from horror to comedy, the acting and the production values. I have a much higher tolerance for trash than most so these criticisms never swayed me one way or another from watching the series and since each episode is only 10 minutes and it beats going to the gym and exercising so I gave it a go.
Yes, there is a complete shift in tone from sci-fi- horror and comedy to pure comedy. These are the critters from the diner scene from CRITTERS 2. This may turn some fans off as the titular creatures never embrace their horror heritage in exchange of comedy. This was done much more successfully with Chucky in BRIDE OF CHUCKY. However, to be fair, the critters never scared me anyway. Once I saw the direction the show was taking I was in for the short ride. This show is bat-shit crazy and knows it. The series follows mother and son, Veronica and Christopher, as they come face to face with the Crites after one of them has an encounter with Veronica’s brother, played by a less scene-chewy Gilbert Gottfried. There are so many twists and turns that by episode 3 you realize you’re watching a show that so gonzo-crazo that it feels like something Peter Jackson would’ve directed very early in his career.
To call CRITTERS: A NEW BINGE “good” would be a bold statement. However, it is fun. There are worse things to watch for 10-minute chunks at a time and it’s refreshing to watch a show whose main objective is to have fun. Yes, the production is noticeably cheap and some of the acting… has potential, but if you have a Shudder subscription you’re a fan enough of the genre where you’ve excused that countless times.