"Dude, we're gonna spend the afternoon watching Critters and House."
"Critters sucks, but I think House is cool."
"What do you mean Critters sucks? It's a classic 80's horror comedy."
"Critters is nothing but a poor man's Gremlins."
...and so went the brief conversation I had with my roommate/best friend Nate as he was leaving the apartment on Sunday. I was in shock. How could one who loves schlock as much as I do have hatred for the Critters? It baffled me to no end. Whatever. I let the haterade spill and continued on with the only plans I had for Sunday...to watch two of my favorite horror-comedies from the year 1986 with my best girl. A plan which was executed perfectly. Gremlins rip-off??? Please....
Critter(1986) is one of those 80's movies I assume everybody has seen, but then I realized not everybody is a fan of goofy sci-fi, or even from the same generation as myself, so let me break it down for you. The Critters, aka The Crites, are an extraterrestrial species that can be best described as carnivorous tribbles with huge appetites. Sounds cute, right? Not so much with these toothy, little furballs. Not only do the crites eat everything in sight, edible or not, but the more they eat, the bigger they get. You could say everything they eat goes straight to their hips, and I don't believe they actually have hips. Like tribbles, the cute doesn't last long once you realize they are more of plague than possible plaything. Chances are that this is probably why several of the little, furry fuckers are being held captive on a prison by the galactic powers-that-be. Unfortunately, crites aren't as base as you would think and they actually have the ability to solve complex problems, like stealing a space vessel for escape and headed towards earth. Thankfully, the Crites are being tailed by Ug and his parner, two faceless bounty-hunting bipeds who can take on the facial features of any human they contact to better blend in on alien worlds. Unfortunately, Ug can't get to Earth fast enough to stop the Crites from tormenting a small rural community and we get to see just how destructive 8 little furballs can be.
Obviously, the movie Critters would never have existed if it wasn't for the commercial success of Gremlins, but I wouldn't go as far as to call it a rip-off. Nate's "Poor Man's Gremlins" is a more accurate description. Either way, I don't care. I first saw the movie in theaters way back when, and have probably seen it a dozen times since then, I'll probably see it a dozen or more times in the next decade. I do admit that the older I get the cheesier the movie becomes, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. I live for cheese!
I realize the most of the special effects in the movie revolve around mediocre puppeteering, but that is just one of the things that makes Critters more of a comedy than the actual sci-fi horror that it was intended to be. Other things include the Johnny Steele music video and Dee Wallace's over-the-top acting ability. The screaming-in-horror that women can do kept me in tears for the latter half of the movie. Completely ridiculous! I'm actually wondering why Dee wasn't cast in every slasher movie of the 70's and 80's based on her scream alone.
We all know that New Line Cinema were never a company for the high brow, so those of you who were disappointed after the first time you watched this classic should have known better. New Line Cinema and movies like Critters, Killer Klowns, and Night of the Creeps set the bar for comedy-tinged horror and sci-fi during the 80's, and you can still see the influence such films have on movies of the same vein today. So before you, or somebody you know, rants and raves about how much movies like Critters are shit, think about the source of these films and those they might have influenced in the future.