Critters is a 1986 American science fiction comedy horror film starring Dee Wallace, M. Emmet Walsh, Billy "Green" Bush and Scott Grimes. It was the directorial debut of Stephen Herek who co-wrote it alongside Domonic Muir (story) and Don Keith Opper (additional scenes), with creature effects by The Chiodo Brothers.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Stephen Herek|
|Produced by||Rupert Harvey|
|Story by||Domonic Muir|
|Music by||David Newman|
|Edited by||Larry Bock|
|Distributed by||New Line Cinema|
|Box office||$13.2 million (US)|
It is the first film of four in the Critters series, followed by Critters 2: The Main Course. Although widely believed to have been inspired by the success of Joe Dante's 1984 film Gremlins, 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.
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 (and 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 slain by the one of the Critters; the creature itself is killed 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. At the end, Critter eggs can be seen in the barn inside a chicken's nest that seem to be ready to hatch.
- Dee Wallace as Helen Brown
- M. Emmet Walsh as Harv
- Billy "Green" Bush as Jay Brown
- Scott Grimes as Brad Brown
- Nadine van der Velde as April Brown
- Don Keith Opper as Charlie McFadden
- Billy Zane as Steve Elliot
- Ethan Phillips as Jeff Barnes
- Terrence Mann as Ug/Johnny Steele
- Jeremy Lawrence as Reverend Miller/Preacher
- Lin Shaye as Sally
- Corey Burton and Kate Winslet as the voices of the Crites/Critters
- Adele Malis-Morey as Woman #1
- Patrick McAreavy as Dr. Critter
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".
- "Critters (12)". British Board of Film Classification. July 7, 1986. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
- "Critters". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 29, 2011.
- "Critters". Chicago Sun-Times.
- "DVD Stalk: Asylum, Masters of Horror, Critters, and Region Free Horror Highlights". dvdtalk.com.
- Excerpt from interview with Stephen Herek, Critters UK VHS liner notes (Cinema Club edition)
- Critters Re:View. Red Letter Media. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
- "Critters". Rotten Tomatoes. 11 April 1986. Retrieved June 30, 2016.
- Uricchio, Marylynn (1986-05-31). "Likable 'Critters'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2017-01-03 – via Newspapers.com.
- Ebert, Roger. "Critters Movie Review & Film Summary (1986) | Roger Ebert". www.rogerebert.com. Retrieved 2017-01-03.
- Caryn, James (April 11, 1986). "Movie Review - - THE SCREEN: 'CRITTERS' FROM SPACE - NYTimes.com". www.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2017-01-03.
- Gallagher, Brian. "'Static Shock' and 'Critters' Digital Series in Development". MovieWeb. Retrieved January 12, 2016.