Plot: A band of alien criminals has escaped from a space prison, with their stolen craft headed on a course toward Earth. These are no friendly aliens and in truth, they are small, but vicious hairballs who can eat and eat, devouring all in their path. And as it happens, these little furballs happen to love human flesh and as a result, trouble is certain. If the critters land on Earth, the entire population would be at risk and if something wasn’t done to contain the beasts, the planet could be demolished in only a short amount of time. Even non human elements would be in danger, such as livestock, pets, and whatever else happens to be within biting distance. But a space council has taken measures to protect Earth’s existence, as two special bounty hunters have dispatched to Earth with orders to wipe out the mean little bastards. The furballs manage to land in a rural town outside of a farm run by the Browns, which is where the beasts find their first meal, at the expense of assorted farm animals on the residence. The bounty hunters also touch down soon, but before they can reach the scene, the Browns find themselves surrounded by the space vermin. As the family tries to fend off these hideous invaders, the bounty hunters have endless trouble tracking the critters. Can the beasts be stopped, or will nothing stop them from devouring the entire planet?
Entertainment Value: After the massive success of Gremlins, several similar series soon popped up and Critters was in that mix. And while none of those could equal the original Gremlins, Critters proved to be a fun franchise for fans of schlock. Critters would spawn three sequels and chances are that if you like this one, you’ll have fun with the others as well. As the debut of the franchise, this first movie lays down the basics and crafts a framework for the numerous sequels that followed. But Critters follows a pattern itself, the kind of framework seen in previous movie about hordes of aliens, killer insects, or other such pests that swarm down on some sleepy old town. In other words, this movie rides on a pretty basic formula and as such, you shouldn’t expect to see much new ground broken. As it should be, some nice new twists and turns are tacked on at times, but at its heart, Critters owes a lot to the drive-in creature features of a bygone era. This is a dark picture in some instances, but there is also a sense of humor and in truth, graphic violence is held to a minimum. The cast is also impressive, with Dee Wallace, Billy Zane, Lin Shaye, and M. Emmet Walsh in prominent roles. So for fans of 80s horror, monster movies, or b movies, Critters is well recommended.
No nakedness. If you wanted to see how well the little fuzzballs could pile up on a human female, no such luck here. This one has some bloodshed, much more than you find in more recent PG-13 efforts, to be sure. I love the scene where the bounty hunter’s face is formed, with all the blood, slime, and other goop, forming the skull and eventually the face itself. The critters launch numerous attacks as well, some with splashy bursts of crimson involved. This includes some nasty bites and my personal favorite, the poison quill assaults. So while not over the top with the gore, Critters shows that you can inject some bloodshed, even in a PG-13 experience. The dialogue is solid fun here, between the alien critter banter and the more colorful lines from the humans. The movie has a good sense of humor and that leads to some jokes, mostly bad ones, but still fun and in line with the b movie vibes. That sense of humor is what drives the movie’s craziness and while it never goes fully off the deep end, Critters has some wackiness that b movie fans will appreciate.
Overall Insanity: 2/10
The Disc: Critters arrives on Blu-ray as part of Scream Factory’s Critters Collection box set, with a new 2k scan from the original film elements. The movie looks terrific here and shows impressive clarity and detail, making this an obvious, considerable upgrade over previous home video releases. The print is clean and allows for sharp detail, while colors are natural and contrast is spot on. I was glad to see Critters given this new scan and it yields a great visual presentation. As for extras, we have They Bite!, a new feature length retrospective look back at Critters’ creation, chock full of interviews with cast & crew members. The piece spends a lot of time on the special effects in particular, which should delight fans. A twenty-ish minute tribute to life and career of writer Domonic Muir is also present, as is an audio commentary track, an alternate end sequence, tv spots, still photos, and the film’s trailer.