Critters

Directed By: Stephen Herek

Starring: Dee Wallace, M. Emmet Walsh, Billy Green Bush, Scott Grimes, Nadine Van der Velde, Don Keith Oppers, Billy Zane, Terrance Mann

Subgenre: Creature Feature, Science Fiction

Synopsis: An alien spaceship crash lands in rural Kansas carrying small but ravenous beings known as Crites.

Thoughts: I’ve always thought of Critters as being spawned by the success of Gremlins, but Writer and Director Stephen Herek swears that Critters was written before the release of Gremlins and that Critters actually had to go through several rewrites because it was even more similar to Gremlins than the final product we saw.  No matter what Herek says, Critters has much of the same charm as Gremlins.

For being a B-movie, Critters sports a pretty impressive cast, including Scott Grimes, M Emmet Walsh, Billy Zane, Lin Shaye and personal favorite of mine Dee Wallace.  The cast brings a quality to Critters that it probably doesn’t deserve, but that is probably what makes Critters a cult favorite.  Don Keith Opper plays his most significant movie role as Charlie, the dim-witted town drunk that would inevitably take his turn as the hero.  Opper actually co-wrote the Critters story as well, which explains why his role would recur over the three sequels as well.

Critters marked the debut of Stephen Herek who would turn away from genre films after Critters for a life of mainstream hits, both commercially and critically.  It’s pretty crazy to think that the guy who directed Critters also directed Mighty Ducks and Mr. Holland’s Opus, but he did.  Critters isn’t going to be shown in film study classes, but there are glimmers of Herek’s talent, yet another reason that makes the movie enjoyable.

While Critters is often looked at as a Gremlins knockoff, I tend to think of it in the same vein as two other franchises; Ghoulies and Tremors.  If you enjoy those movies, it’s a safe bet that you’ll like Critters.

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