It’s finally time to debut the first ever Necropolis Retrospective, where I take a look back at different horror series’ over the years and see how they hold up after all this time. As you can see, I’ve decided to start with the Critters series. The first Critters was released back in 1986, and was directed by Stephen Herek. Herek later directed such classics as Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, The Mighty Ducks, and Mr. Holland’s Opus. So obviously he’s a very well-rounded director. To me, this movie as well as Critters 2 are a couple of very good examples of 80’s cheesy horror goodness. But let’s get into the movie itself and we’ll take it from there.
The Critters (or Crites as they are known in their own section of space) are a malicious race of aliens who only concern themselves with two things: eating and reproducing. At the start of this movie a group of them are held prisoner on a maximum prison asteroid deep in space. Not long after the movie starts, the Crites manage to somehow escape, taking one of the prison’s fastest ships in the process. The prison’s warden recruits a pair of bounty hunters to make chase and eradicate the Crites before they make it to some planet where they could feed and eventually multiply. During the trip, when it’s discovered the Crites are on Earth, the bounty hunters alter their appearance to look like a normal human, where we see some nice 80’s practical effects as their alien faces melt and reform as a human lookalike. Well, at least one of them does. The other has trouble choosing a face and doesn’t actually make the change until they land on Earth.
So on Earth the movie is centered around the Brown family, who through the majority of the movie are the main focus of the Critters’ attention. As well we also have the town drunk and simple guy Charlie, who works around the Brown household for Jay Brown, the man of the house. It doesn’t take long for the Critters to strike, as the first attack on the Brown’s happens just over the half-hour mark of the movie. The father Jay takes the brunt of the suffering the Critters inflict, being bitten multiple times and hit by one of their debilitating spines they can fire from their bodies. Jay’s wife Helen, played by Dee Wallace (Wallace-Stone at the time), also takes a spine to the neck, making her lose consciousness for a short time. The son Bradley manages to escape and runs into town to try to find help.
During all this, the bounty hunters finally show up and search the town looking for their prey. They cause a lot of damage and confusion before Bradley finds them and directs them to his house, where things eventually come to a head (with even more destruction naturally).
This movie is entertaining as hell. The Critters themselves are great looking puppets, and were designed by the Chiodo Brothers, who namely made Killer Klowns From Outer Space. At one point there’s a Critter that somehow grows to about 6-7 feet tall. But it’s the only one in the movie. In fact, nowhere else in the series do you see a Critter grow to such a size.
The acting was done very well, especially the actors who were cast in the roles of the Brown family. They did a great job of acting like a real family you might know growing up back then. There was also a small role played by a young Billy Zane, as April Brown’s boyfriend Steve. Terence Mann was great as the bounty hunter Ug, and had just as impressive a mullet at the time. And Don Opper did a great job as simpleton town drunk Charlie. I have a strange feeling we haven’t seen the last of him though…..
This is a great movie to watch with some 80’s loving friends, and some snacks on hand. Try and ignore the odd fact that the Critters weren’t able to kill a small town family, despite successfully escaping a maximum security prison asteroid. This is a movie you can blissfully shut your brain off and enjoy. Gremlins may be the more popular of the two, but in my personal opinion, I place as much entertainment value on Critters. Watch it when you get the chance, you won’t regret it. That’s all I have for this one. Stay tuned for Part 2, coming soon. Rest in peace. 🙂
Macabre Rating: 4 out of 5 tombstones