Critters Review

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A bunch of Krites – furry tumbleweeds with a lot of teeth – escape from an intergalactic prison farm and head for the universal backwater planet, Earth. Down on a Kansas farn, the Brown family find themselves under attack from the hungry, dangerous nuisa


This is a typical 1980s attempt to recapture the feel of 1950s s-f monster movies like It Came From Outer Space or Invaders From Mars, with slightly higher-tech effects than the originals, and a slightly tongue-in-cheek script which deploys deliberately stereotypical characters (M. Emmett Walsh as the sceptical Sheriff, Don Opper as the village idiot who thinks aliens are communicating with him through the fillings in his teeth) and ominous mumblings about the threat from ‘out there’.

The lead monsters are sort of endearingly nasty (their gremlin-like burblings are given pithy sub-titles) and the movie has fun with its small town setting, but the film is perhaps a little too derivative to pass muster with the best of retro-chic s-f (Strange Invaders, Alligator) because it concentrates on serving up the recipe as before with more obvious humour, rather than straining for the mix of paranoia, black and white anxiety and pulp poetry that distinguishes the best of the originals.

Grimes and Opper pop up again in Critters 2: The Main Course, with Mick Garris replacing Stephen Herek as director; that had a bigger effects budget – unlike a pair of cheaper, back-to-back, direct-to-video follow-ups, Critters 3 and Critters 4. Opper, who had a hand in writing the series, co-stars in the latter pair with whatever-happened-to-them? losers Leonardo di Caprio and Angela Bassett, tangling with Krites in a run-down apartment building and a cramped spaceship.

Derivative but tongue-in-cheek enough to have a following.