With so many holiday-themed horror movies, you’d think Easter would be fairly well covered, but it’s not. Compared to the wealth of pictures set on Christmas and Halloween, Easter gives us very few offerings. Most of them have come out in recent years and are more genre parodies than anything else, like Easter Bunny, Kill, Kill. Even St. Patrick’s Day gets the entire Leprechaun franchise and Valentine’s Day gets two My Bloody Valentine installments, plus 1999’s Valentine. But I don’t mind that so much. In my mind, we’ve got one true, earnest Easter horror film. And it’s the only one we’ll ever need.
The feature in question is Critters 2: The Main Course. The film is firmly and comfortably set around the Easter holiday. We pick up with the leftover Crite eggs from the ending of the first film and use them to spawn a plot where they are sold as Easter Eggs to local children. While this isn’t a huge sticking point for the plot as a whole, it leads to some solid laughs and a great egg hunt sequence. Critters 2 gives us the violent death of the Easter Bunny, taking time to establish that it’s a sheriff who could not give less of a crap about dressing up to impress the kids, and who gets his man parts eaten off by several intrusive little monsters. It’s fun. It’s hilarious. It’s raucous. There’s no way to discuss Easter horror without talking about Critters 2.
What really counts is that on top of simply being a good Easter flick, Critters 2 is actually good. In general, it’s a wonderful and completely underrated sequel. The directorial debut of Mick Garris—who would go on to be the go-to Stephen King guy, helming Sleepwalkers, The Shining, Riding the Bullet and the Emmy nominated The Stand—it’s a sequel that expands on everything that made the first movie great while telling a new story with a new look and tone at the same time. It’s the sort of picture that every great sequel should strive to be. It’s funnier than the first with more fleshed-out characters.
We actually care when certain characters die in this film, which is really not true of any other entry in the Critters franchise. Everyone who returns from the original is given more to do, has a complete character arc that makes sense, and some of their journeys are surprisingly deep. For example, on top of just being a fun, campy sequel, Critters 2 is a surprisingly strong transgender narrative. I’m not even kidding. In the original we were introduced to two shapeshifting alien bounty hunters, given the respective names Ug and Lee. Part of the gimmick of the first movie is that Ug finds a face right away while Lee constantly changes, never being able to settle on anything.
Garris retools that in a smart way for the sequel, as Lee continues to change forms until finding the body of a Playboy model, admiring their body when they make the transformation and—in the TV edit—actually saying the words “body fit” when they make that transition. It’s a subplot with clear themes that doesn’t distract from the overall piece, it only adds to it. The message is clear, too, when Charlie asks Ug why Lee hasn’t found a body of their own and Ug replies “Hasn’t found right self. Can’t live in wrong self.”
Critters 2 also tops the first in terms of visual effects. The FX are better than the first. The unique designs from the original have been slightly retooled. Ug and Lee look a little different in their faceless forms, the critters have less pronounced mullets and look scarier as a whole. The monsters also get to do a lot more, whereas the original was sort of limited in that way.
Critters 2: The Main Course is one of the best B-Movie sequels out there. On top of that, it makes for perfect Easter viewing. All of the classic holiday tropes are there, from the eggs to the bunny, but given the macabre treatment, we expect from every holiday-themed horror. In terms of an indie horror sequel, it’s really solid, and the only thing it lacks is “Power of the Night” on its soundtrack. Instead, we get the Hungry Heifer jingle. If you’re looking for something horror related to watch this Easter, this is not only the obvious choice, but the best one.