By the mid-Eighties animatronic special effects were good enough to make some impressive monsters. This led to Joe Dante and Steven Spielberg’s Gremlins, a movie that imbued into an entire generation to never feed exotic creatures after midnight. Gremlins was a huge hit and knock-off films were sure to follow. There were quite a few: Ghoulies, Troll, Munchies…
But the king of the ‘small carnivorous creatures” knock-offs is easily Critters. A group of alien creatures called the Crites escape from an asteroid prison and head for Earth. They land near a small rural American town and invade a nearby farm, attacking local livestock and human beings alike. The family of the farm soon find themselves under siege, but luckily two interstellar bounty hunters are sent to take care of the Crite infestation.
Crites are small fur balls, cute in every way except for their horrible screeches and maws that reveal dozens and dozens of teeth. They are a bit like the outlaw bikers of the galaxy: anarchists who take what they want, all towards having a good time. They are also always hungry and will eat anything that crosses their paths.
A lot of these are tropes of this genre, which invite the Gremlins comparisons. But Critters is far more camp and wastes little time getting the action going. It hardly makes the ninety minute mark, but in that time the Crites, the hostage family, the face-shifting bounty hunters and a few extras will cause all kinds of chaos on screen.
The added element of a science fiction plot makes Critters even more special and the movie would go on to spawn three sequels. Two were forgettable, though the second’s assault on the nearby town is worth seeing. Critters was a minor hit, making its budget back several times but coming nowhere close to the massive blockbuster that Gremlins was. Yet the series has steadily built a large following and today the Criters are as well known in movie circles as their midnight-snacking contemporaries.
If anything this should be remade just so someone can make a fortune off Crites plushies…[/column] [column size=one_half position=last ] [/column]
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Last Updated: December 15, 2014