Steal generously from Gremlins (1984), add a touch of late night Sci-Fi, stir in handful of humor, try to duplicate the family from Poltergeist (1982), cast an actress with clout (Dee Wallace), and hire the biggest effects department you can afford. What you do have? Critters, of course. Critters is one of those small budget horror film that actually works. Yes, the acting is not the greatest but the real star of this show is the Critters themselves.
Critters are the Gremlins even meaner cousins who broke out of a space prison and have decided that Earth is their buffet table. Kudos to Charles Chiodo [Killer Klowns From Outerspace] and his enormous crew for giving us such delightful monsters. Yes, they’re vicious but, somehow, it also comes across as funny. Furthermore, the bounty hunters who try to destroy these ruthless creatures are great as well. Their faces are blank green canvases at first, but they can assume any physical identity they want to. The film uses this to good effect.
Critters was Stephen Herek’s directorial debut. He would then go on to direct the cult classic Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989). He does a very good job for with his first film. The only negative thing I can say is that he doesn’t get the most out of his actors. Dee Wallace (The Hills Have Eyes, The Howling, E.T.] should have been fabulous, but she was just O.K. Even the kid who is supposed to be the emotional heart of this film, falls flat. Scott Grimes [Party of Five, ER] is a great actor but, for whatever reason, he cannot tap into the kind of emotional depth that others have done in similar films. This might be due to the director, the script, the actor, or a combination of all three. I’m not sure why but I know it doesn’t capture your heart like Elliott and Gertie did in E.T.
All things considered, this is a slightly campy, enjoyable film. It’s not the best the 80’s has to offer but the Critters are so much fun to watch in action that the viewer cannot help but fall in love with this film.
RATING: Very Good.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.