Critters

Critters

 

 

Critters

1986. Directed by Stephen Herek.  

Filled with humor that the target audience couldn't fully understand until possessing more life experience, shocking violence, cheap sex scenes, outstanding practical effects, and an endless trove of iconic one liners, Critters is one of the flagships of 80's cult cinema franchises.  

Critters are an alien race of tiny ball like creatures covered in fur.  Possessing a nasty disposition and an insatiable appetite, they are imprisoned on an asteroid.  After a daring escape, the creatures head to Earth while being pursued by two shaping changing bounty hunters.   The Critters land in Kansas and set their starving sights on the Brown family.  As the siege begins and the devouring commences, the Critters soon learn that they chose the wrong family to feast upon.

The script is a hilarious amalgam of slapstick and gore that enforce the film's gleeful menace.  It's one of the strong elements that emerged during the 80's American horror heyday, using just enough comedy to take the edge off, but still keeping everything in the gutter.  Charles Chiodo's Critters are brought to life with puppetry, a technique that has been forsaken in the era of CGI.  The chaotic movement caused by the strings is a boon to the wild antics, while John Goodwin's special make up effects are an uncomfortably gory guilty pleasure.  

The bounty hunters steal the show both with their stunted dialogue and slick transformation powers.  When they finally get into the action, Critters' pulse quickens to a point of cardiac overload from the cheesy action and perfectly timed cliches of the genre.  A poor man's teenage version of Repo Man, Critter delivers on every possible toilet humor level. 

The 80's was a magical time in American cinema.   On one of end of the spectrum, studios produced films that would become iconic nostalgia pieces, following Generation X kids throughout their lives.   On the other end were films like Critters.  Violent, absurd, and always crude, these films were usually found on the forbidden horror and science fiction shelves at the VHS store.  If you were lucky enough to have parents who didn't mind or a friend whose parents didn't mind, these were the films that you and your friends would debate endlessly, laying the framework for the film's cult status that would be built in years to come. 

Available now for digital rental, Critters is a great film is you're (like me) looking to recapture some of that old VHS glory, or if you're genuinely curious as to what made these kinds of films so treasured, despite their ilk be banished to the 5 dollar bin at Walmart.  

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