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Critters is a 1986 American science fiction comedy horror film directed by Stephen Herek in his directorial debut, and co-written with Domonic Muir and Don Keith Opper. It stars Dee Wallace, M. Emmet Walsh, Billy "Green" Bush and Scott Grimes in his film debut. The plot follows a group of small, furry aliens with carnivorous behavior escaping from two shape-shifting bounty hunters, landing in a small countryside town to feast on its inhabitants.

Theatrical release poster
Directed byStephen Herek
Produced byRupert Harvey
Screenplay by
Story byDomonic Muir
Music byDavid Newman
CinematographyTim Suhrstedt
Edited byLarry Bock
Distributed byNew Line Cinema
Release date
  • April 11, 1986 (1986-04-11)
Running time
85 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$2 million
Box office$13.2 million (US)[2]

Although widely believed to have been inspired by the success of Joe Dante's 1984 film Gremlins,[3][4] Herek has refuted this in interviews, pointing out that the script was written by Muir long before Gremlins went into production and subsequently underwent rewrites to reduce the apparent similarities between the two films.[5] The film grossed $13.6 million during its release in the United States, and spawned a Critters franchise consisted of three sequels.



On an asteroid prison, a group of dangerous aliens known as Crites are set to be transported to another station. The Crites engineer an escape and hijack a ship, prompting the warden to hire two shape-changing bounty hunters to pursue them to Earth. Studying life on Earth via various satellite television transmissions, the first bounty hunter assumes the form of rock star Johnny Steele, while the second remains undecided, thus retaining his blank, featureless head.

On a rural Kansas farm, the Brown family sits down to breakfast. Father Jay and mother Helen send teenage daughter April and younger son Brad off to school while waiting on mechanic Charlie McFadden. A former baseball pitcher, Charlie has become the town drunk and crackpot, with claims of alien abductions foretold by messages through his fillings.

Playing with selfmade, overly potent fireworks and Charlie's slingshot, Brad takes the blame when Charlie accidentally shoots April and is grounded as a result. On the roof that evening, Brad mistakes the Critters' crashing spaceship for a meteorite; Jay and Brad investigate and interrupt the creatures consuming a cow. The creatures thereafter kill and feed on a local police officer, and later besiege the farm and cut its electrical connection. While checking the circuit breaker, Jay is attacked by one of the Critters and, being severely wounded, just barely manages to escape.

In the barn, April is about to have sex with her boyfriend Steve when he is killed by the one of the Critters; the creature itself is slain when it devours one of Brad's lit firecrackers. The remaining Critters sabotage the Browns' and Steve's cars, forcing the Browns to hole up inside the main house. Meanwhile, the two bounty hunters search the town for the Critters, causing a panic at the church and bowling alley, with the second hunter assuming the form of various townspeople, including Charlie. Brad escapes the farm to get help and runs into the bounty hunters, and upon learning of their true nature and intentions, he leads them to the Critters' location.

The last surviving Critters kidnap April and return to their ship when the bounty hunters arrive, and attempt to flee. Charlie and Brad manage to rescue April, but Brad drops a large firecracker he intended to use to destroy the ship when the Critters discover their escape. Just as the Critters take off and destroy the farmhouse out of spite, Charlie throws a Molotov cocktail made from his whiskey bottle into the ship, causing a fire which detonates the cracker and kills the Critters. The bounty hunters leave in their ship after giving Brad a handheld device to contact them in case of future invasion, and also restore the house. Unbeknownst to them, Critter eggs can be seen in the barn inside a chicken's nest that seem to be ready to hatch.



The film was released theatrically in the United States by New Line Cinema in April 1986. It turned out to be a modest hit for the company, grossing $13,167,232 at the box office.[2]

The film was released on VHS and LaserDisc by RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video the same year. In September 1997, New Line Home Video re-released the film on VHS.

In 2003, New Line Home Entertainment released the film on DVD. The film was re-released in a set containing all four Critters films on DVD by Warner Bros. in 2010.

On November 27, 2018, all 4 films were released on blu-ray. The first 2 movies were remastered in 2k.[6]


According to Rotten Tomatoes, 56% of reviewers gave the film a positive review.[7]

Marylynn Uricchio, film critic for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette described the film as an enjoyable, if unoriginal, low budget monster movie. Uricchio wrote, "Critters isn't a memorable or even very slick movie, but it is good fun. What it lacks in substance it makes up for with a perverse kind of charm".[8]

Roger Ebert, film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a positive review, rating it three stars out of four.[9]

Caryn James, film critic for The New York Times complained that the movie lacked humor and suspense, writing, "Critters just doesn't make the audience laugh or jump often enough".[10]

Web seriesEdit

In 2014 Warner Bros. announced plans to produce a web series based on the Critters films.[11]


  1. ^ "Critters (12)". British Board of Film Classification. July 7, 1986. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Critters". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 29, 2011.
  3. ^ "Critters". Chicago Sun-Times.
  4. ^ "DVD Stalk: Asylum, Masters of Horror, Critters, and Region Free Horror Highlights".
  5. ^ Excerpt from interview with Stephen Herek, Critters UK VHS liner notes (Cinema Club edition)
  6. ^ "Shout Factory: Fourteen New Titles Coming Soon to Blu-ray". 20 July 2018. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
  7. ^ "Critters". Rotten Tomatoes. 11 April 1986. Retrieved June 30, 2016.
  8. ^ Uricchio, Marylynn (1986-05-31). "Likable 'Critters'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2017-01-03 – via
  9. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Critters Movie Review & Film Summary (1986) | Roger Ebert". Retrieved 2017-01-03.
  10. ^ Caryn, James (April 11, 1986). "Movie Review - - THE SCREEN: 'CRITTERS' FROM SPACE -". Retrieved 2017-01-03.
  11. ^ Gallagher, Brian. "'Static Shock' and 'Critters' Digital Series in Development". MovieWeb. Retrieved January 12, 2016.

External linksEdit