HMM Day 20 – Critters

When strange and dangerous aliens called Crites escape their outer space prison, it is up to two shape shifting bounty hunters to collect and destroy these monstrous fiends. As the hunters stalk their bounty they are led to a small planet far away called Earth. The planet it perfect and teaming with life, enough to satisfy the Crites insatiable hunger.

Critters is a 1989 sci-fi horror film directed by Stephen Herek and starring Scott Grims, Dee Wallace, Billy Green Bush, Terrence Mann and Nadine Van der Velde. Although considered a low budget rip-off of 1984’s Gremlins it was moderately successful. But unlike Gremlins, Critters has spawned four sequels and currently a television show.

My Childhood

When I was a young child I was afraid of going upstairs to my room all by myself. I vividly remember a time when I was in trouble and was told to go to my room ahead of my brother and sister. Being afraid of the upstairs, I began arguing with my father to not go. But this was the 80’s and parents weren’t as big pussies as modern parents today. So I got my ass spanked and was pushed upstairs! As I walked up the steps, my father was at the bottom making sure I made myself all the way up. The tears and snot mixed together in one cohesive gel on my upper lip and I mumbled to him, “You’re gonna feel bad when I don’t come back!” Dad didn’t know what I was talking about. He didn’t know what I knew and what I knew is that Critters lived in the upstairs and they were waiting for me. So when I get eaten to the bone, dad is gonna cry his little eyes out and feel real bad that he was the one that made me go upstairs to my doom!

But as I made it to the top of the steps. My little brother was told to go up as well. You see when one kid was a miserable little shit, it usually puts the parents in a mood of zero tolerance. So my brother Jon was given the dose of an “early to bed” punishment like myself. Little did my brother know that he saved my life. You see, you may not know this but it is a rule in all child and monster relationships that the Critters would never appear with two people. All monsters live by this code so I was allowed to lived that one night. But there is always tomorrow night!

First Horror Film That Made Me Afraid

You see, I tell you this story of my childhood because Critters was one of my first experiences with the subject of horror. I usually give this title to The Monster Squad but when I really think about it that movie was the film that made me love horror as a genre. Critters was the movie that truly ingrained the thing that matters and that is fear. I was told that monsters weren’t real and that nothing was upstairs did very little. I saw the movie and that was more powerful than anything an adult could tell me to my face! Although I watched the entire movie all the way through and had laughed at certain points; there was this fear deep down within me. Critters and their beady little eyes. They ate everything including people! That one scene where Dee Wallace is washing dishes and the Critter is outside the window. Oh man, I hated that and it stuck with my for years.

Today

But now I’m full grown and have kids of my own. Even today I still love Critters and just like other low-budget monster movies like The Deadly Spawn or Gremlin, it holds a place in my heart. It may be a ridiculous story but it is a fun movie. The Crites are all done with puppetry and the effects department certainly did a good job on their movements. I think it was real clever to just make them roll into balls when they moved because obviously all they had to do in certain scenes, was throw the Critters as if they were kick balls. It may have been cheap but it elevates the fear factor for our monsters.

The Family

I love the idea of a family coming together against all odds and at the last moment their strength and determination pulls through. You think the Crites are going to eat them all but then the big bad ass bounty hunters show up and deliver the pain. Where many films during the 80’s used the destabilizing family to create its elements of horror, Critters does the opposite and shows that a loving family is all a person really needs. Their bond and kinship is given justice in the end and for an 80’s horror movie, kind of leaves you feeling warm and toasty inside. Kind of corny but there you have it.

I think all kids should at least have one moment where a horror movie effects them to no end. Causing them to be afraid of the woods near their house or the smelly basement with the creaking steps alarming the flesh eating humanoids below that you’re coming down. It gives life a certain slice of adventure and gives us a feeling of being alive. You know how awesome it feels to be completely terrified and to survive. You’ve overcome your fears and have matured a little. I think that’s what Critters may have helped in me and possibly something all children need today. I’m not saying go scare the shit out of little kids, but maybe take note that a little too much sheltering can have them miss out on some things.

Critters is a fun movie and deserves much more praise. I do love the sequel and believe it’s just as fun and good as the first. But the other sequels are kind of lame and I haven’t had a chance to check out the show quite yet. But this first film will always remain a favorite of mine. I love the acting and laugh at all the jokes. It’s more an entry level horror film, one I think even a younger kid could appreciate. There’s a good blend of sci-fi in there as well. The bounty hunters are total bad asses with their huge cannons and ability to change their faces. In the 80’s Terrance Mann was too cool for school. When he throws that bowling ball like it was a tennis ball! Completely blew my mind.

So go ahead and watch 1996’s Critters. It’s a fun that will make you think twice about going upstairs alone! Thanks for reading day twenty of Horror Movie Marathon 2019!

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