Hello critters and crittettes, it's me, your FIENDly (friendly) GHOST-HOST (I am not actually a ghost). In a strange reversal of how I remember doing this blog last year, I have a bit of a backlog of guest pieces my friends have sent in, which is cool. Especially since it happens to coincide with a bit of a lag in updates. So here's the esteemed stand-up comedian / cinephile Jimmy LeChase (whose website you can check out here) on the film Critters. Don't forget to tip your waiters, yuk yuk yuk.
was released in 1986 as New Line Cinema’s answer to Gremlins. Critters
is not Gremlins. If Gremlins is Gremlins, Critters is a weird guy
jacking dick in the back of a movie theater to a magazine with Gremlins
on the cover. Why did he bring a magazine into the theater? I don’t
know, but that’s the kind of bullshit you have to deal with when you’re
Herek directed and co-wrote Critters with Dominic Muir and Don Keith
Opper, and despite the fact that New Line Cinema advertised Critters as
their answer to Gremlins, Herek maintains that’s not the case and that
the script for Critters was in existence before Gremlins came out. I
believe him, because aside from the titular characters being small
creatures with big mouths full of teeth, there’s nothing else about
Critters that is even remotely close to Gremlins.
opens up on a prison asteroid; which you can tell because the opening
scene is of a big rock in outer space and a title card pops up in front
of it that says “Prison Asteroid - sector 17: Maximum Security,” so
right away you know we’re dealing with aliens and definitely not Asian
demons like in Gremlins.
the approach of telling and not showing, the audience is made aware
that 8 “Crites” are ready to be transported to another asteroid or some
shit and then BAM an explosion and the “Crites” have sprung themselves
from the klink. The leader of the prison asteroid, an alien that looks
like he was cobbled together by an angry intern at a community college
film school program who was high on airplane glue, hires two animorph
like bounty hunters to chase down the “Crites.” “Fuel is not their
problem,” he explains to the bounty hunters, but, because the “Crites”
are hungry little assholes, they need to stop at Earth to pick up some
take out before hopping off to the next planet. This explanation feels
like it was put in in post to give the script something that resembles
logic as to why the “Crites” would need to go to Earth if they could,
y’know, just escape forever with endless fuel.
the “Crites” and bounty hunters are speeding to Earth, we’re introduced
to the Brown family and their loveable, All-American farm life. There’s
Jay, the stern, hardworking farmer with a heart of gold when it comes
to his children. There’s Helen, the wife that seems as if she’ll fall
apart if she ever takes her apron off or stops looking out of windows.
There’s April, the oversexed teenaged daughter that’s dating -wait for
it- Billy Fucking Zane with a rat tail. And last, but certainly least
there’s the trouble making, ginger haired son, Brad. Oh, Brad you’re
such a rapscallion with your fireworks and slingshots!
being the trickster dufus that he is, hangs out with a loveable town
drunk named Charlie that is played by none other than one of the film’s
co-writers, Don Keith Opper. I didn’t bother looking up any of the other
actor’s names, because once I saw Billy Fucking Zane was in the movie I
stopped caring about anybody else.
because the plot needed to move forward, Charlie and Brad are up to no
good (as usual!) and Charlie accidentally hits April with a pellet from
Brad’s slingshot and Brad ends up being grounded. Typical Brad. While
Brad is serving out his sentence, he attempts to sneak out of the house
and sees what he thinks is a comet, but it’s not a comet! It’s a
spaceship full of Critters! Wow!
spaceship crash lands and causes an earthquake; which startles Jay and
Helen out of the kitchen, but what does Jay see when he goes out to
inspect the damage? Oh, just Brad sneaking out of the house! “The
earthquake through me clear out of my window!” Brad explains, but Jay,
knowing his red haired son is less than human, doesn’t buy it for one
second and demands his some come along with him to see what happened as
further punishment for being such a terrible child.
At the landing site the Critters shrug and say “fuck it” and roll off to eat a cow.
and Brad stumble upon the cow and talk about what could have done such a
thing. Brad, being an asshole, says things that his father dismisses
and they head back to the farm. The “Crites” watched all of this happen,
shrugged, said “fuck it” again and rolled off to kill a police officer;
which they totally do.
about the bounty hunters, you say? Well, on their way to Earth they
were quickly schooled on what’s up with our funky planet by being shown a
shoddily edited video, and one of them decides to turn itself into the
epitome of feathered 80’s hair that is Johnny Steele, singer of the song
“Power of the Night” and owner of the laziest fucking name ever
scripted outside of “Joe Smith.” The other bounty hunter turns himself
into somebody else, but that doesn’t last very long, so after giving up
on life he assumes Charlie the town drunk’s form and goes about being a
bounty hunter as best as he can.
meanwhile, is bugging out about the spaceship at Comedy Relief County
Jail and the sheriff and sassy receptionist just aren’t having it, but
this time... Charlie is right! I bet he wishes Brad wasn’t grounded so
he could hang out with a child that listens to his drunken ramblings,
but Brad is Brad and can’t be contained. Charlie, resigned to give into
his addiction, drinks from a bottle of whiskey he keeps in his pocket.
at All-American Farms, April and Billy Fucking Zane are making out in a
loft in the barn and Billy Fucking Zane is into it, or so the sway of
his rat tail would have you believe, but when April pushes him into the
bone zone, he backs off claiming her father would kill him if he caught
them. What Billy Fucking Zane doesn’t know is that a Critter is planning
on killing him either way; which it tries to do before Brad shows up
and turns the tables on the Critter and feeds it a stick of dynamite.
Nobody cares that Brad is troubled enough to have a stick of dynamite,
and nobody seems to wonder why he has so many explosives or a detailed
map of his school with Xs all over it, but hey, who wants to grapple
with Brad? Not me.
Billy Fucking Zane is almost eaten by a Critter, some stuff happens and
the bounty hunters end up at All-American Farms and there’s a bit of a
scuffle with the “Crites” and by “scuffle” I mean, not a fucking thing
really happens except one of the “Crites” makes itself huge and kidnaps
April which really puts a damper on Billy Fucking Zane’s fingering plans
for the evening, so now everybody has to rescue April and ugh nobody in
the cast is a good enough actor to make caring about April believable,
but they go through with it anyway because it’s in the script.
thing leads to another and Charlie and Brad end up saving the day with a
molotov cocktail and more dynamite. The “Crites” blow up The Brown
Family home on their way to being blown up themselves and everybody is
sad. Even Brad, the soulless golem that he is, seems to be upset that
all his stuff got blown up. Ironic, isn’t it, Brad, that such a fan of
explosives would have his entire existence destroyed by an explosion?
Maybe use this moment as a learning experience, Brad.
bounty hunter with the hair of the gods gives Brad a remote control
looking like thing and Brad pushes a button on it and in less than a few
minutes their entire house is rebuilt like nothing ever happened; which
taught Brad absolutely nothing. Great.
when you thought the movie was over the camera starts to move toward
the barn -oh no! is Brad in there?- and slowly it’s revealed that the
Critters laid eggs! Laying the groundwork for 3 sequels, one of which
includes Leonardo DiCaprio, and none of which include Billy Fucking