Critters (1986)

We start in an asteroid prison, where the Krites hijack a spaceship and escape to Earth. The warden hires Ug (Terrence Mann) and another shapeshifting bounty hunter to follow them.

As they study Earth transmissions, Ug takes the form of rock star Johnny Steele and the second remains blank. You will hear the song “Power of the Night” so many times in this movie that you’ll be able to sing it yourself.

Meanwhile, in Kansas, the Brown family is enjoying rural Earth life. There’s father Jay (Billy “Green” Bush, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday), mother Helen ( Dee Wallace Stone, The HowlingCujoPopcorn) and their kids April and Brad. As the kids go to school, Jay waits for mechanic Charlie (Don Keith Opper, who is in all four Critters films) to show up. Once a major league prospect, he started getting messages from radios and possibly even UFOs through his fillings and went insane.

That night, the Krites ship crash lands. Thinking it’s a meteorite, Jay and Brad check it out only to catch one of the monsters eating its way through a cow. They cut all the power to the farm, take out a cop and shoot Jay with one of their tranquilizing quills.

While all this is going on, April is horizontally dancing with NYV transplant Steve (Billy Zane!) who gets eaten almost immediately. Her brother saves her with some firecrackers. Just then, the bounty hunters come to town, with one of them continually changing shape to become different townspeople.

Everything works out well, with the Krites being wiped out. The bounty hunters even leave behind a device to call them in case of a sequel as we see eggs that are about to hatch.

There’s a funny scene with a Critter plays with an E.T. doll, a film in which Dee Wallace Stone also starred. And I almost forgot — genre vet Lin Shaye (the Insidious films) shows up too!

The character design of the Critters is probably the best part of the film. The Chiodo Brothers also worked on Ernest Scared StupidTeam America: World Police, Large Marge in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, the “mousterpieces” in Dinner for Schmucks and, of course, Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

Depending on when you grew up, Critters is either silly fluff or a treasured part of your childhood. I tend to the former while Becca is definitely on the latter choice. Director Stephen Herek also directed plenty of her other favorites like Bill & Ted’s Excellent AdventureDon’t Tell Mom the Babysitter is Dead and The Mighty Ducks.

Watch it for yourself and decide! There’s a really inexpensive compilation DVD that has all four films and it’s available to rent or buy on almost every major streaming service.

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