In 1986 a creature feature was crafted to cash in on the success of the Joe Dante film Gremlins (1984). The result was this uniquely crafty horror film Critters. Similar in tone to that of its predecessor, Critters was the “Roger Corman” version of Gremlins in a similar way that Dante’s other film Piranha (1978) was a rip-off of Jaws (1975).
Critters concern a race of aliens that crash land on Earth in search of nothing more than food and to procreate. On their trail are two shape-shifting bounty hunters who will hunt the critters down at any cost. What stands in the critters way is the farm house of Brad Brown (Scott Grimes) and his family. Brad is the quintessential trouble maker who wars with his older sister and constantly makes a nuisance of himself for his mother and father. His only friend is the local drunk Charlie (Don Opper) who is the only person that believes him when he says that there are aliens that have landed. Now Brad must enlist the help of the bounty hunters in order to save his family from the hungry balls of critter fur.
The film works in a different way than Gremlins in that these creatures are intelligent and speak their own language (which makes for some very funny moments in the film) and they actually are the source of a lot of nice suspense in the film. The film is also dark in atmosphere while maintaining a nice balance with the comic tone and humor of the film. Despite the similarities that the film has with its predecessor it stands on its own due to the sci-fi aspects of the film (which Gremlins does not have).
Critters become such as success as to warrant three sequels and making it one of the more interesting franchises of the ’80s.