Reed Alexander's Horror Review of 'Critters' (1989)
'Gremlins' on Angel Dust...
Here's the truth about Critters. This movie is abjectly terrible. It's basically got the production quality of Night of the Creeps and the critters themselves are the "R" rated versions of Gremlins. Absolutely everything about this movie is laughable right down to the soundtrack. And that is exactly why I love this movie and you should too.
My god, it's so much fun. This movie is so ridiculous, over the top, to the point of approaching lunacy. I'll have to wait 'til the spoilers to get to the best stuff, but let's talk about the basics.
The acting was like something from Leave it to Beaver or Dennis the Menace. So was the setting, for that matter. It's got that wholesome country sitcom feel right up until critters start eating people. For fuck sake, the child actor plays a fucking upstart ginger, he might as well be Dennis the Menace. The contrast from the start of the movie to end of the movie is actually sorta brilliant. It's also a throwback to the old black and whites. The plot is basically nonsense. Critters escape from an asteroid prison and start eating everything in sight. I guess they have to have some sort of origin.
But the best part is the critters themselves. The practical FX are just awful. They start as hand puppets and little automatons attached to strings. If you look closely, you can even catch it.
But I honestly believe Critters isn't just for hardcore horror fans and riffers. It really is a silly fun movie and I think a general audience will enjoy it at least once.
Where the fuck did they come up with some of the general concepts for this movie? Furry critters with teeth? Sure. Space aliens? Why not? Those two simple concepts were more than enough to make a good horror movie. Hell, as I said before, this basically starts off as Night of the Creeps, when the critters escape from alien containment. But then they add on shape-shifting bounty hunters. It's almost like the plot of Lilo and Stitch at that point. And why stop there! Why not have one of the bounty hunters emulate an 80's rock star? And what about having the other bounty hunter be a twitchy trigger-happy nut job that blows up everything in sight?
They don't even stop with that ridiculous mess. The critters (or Crites) are even quirky. You find out in the first sequence that they have problem solving intelligence. I mean, the little buggers escape from an alien prison on an asteroid. You find out pretty quick into the movie that the Crites even talk in their own language. But they don't just talk, they swear. They swear as much in the movie as I do in my reviews.
And what about our little Denis the Menace? What's more ridiculous than a scrappy pipsqueak ginger saving the day? A scrappy pipsqueak ginger and his gruff drunk childlike adult friend saving the day. When they introduce us to the protagonists living in "Pleasantville," they make a point to showcase the capacity for the ginger and his gruff friend to make homemade explosives. So you know, at some point, something is going to get blown up in epic fashion. Wouldn't you know it, at the end of the movie, the little brat crawls onto the Crites' stolen spaceship to save his sister and plants a half stick of homemade TNT. Then his gruff buddy lights it up with a Molotov cocktail.
If you decided to read the spoilers in this review, I want you to read them again. I want you to think about how really silly this movie is. I refer to it as Gremlins on angel dust for a reason. They have a very similar tone, Critters is just R rated. So yes, I absolutely recommend this movie to a general audience. It's no less valid than watching cartoons as an adult. I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy.