Tuesday, November 16, 2010

They Bite

I was racking my brain at "The Addams Family" trying to think of where I had seen one of the actors, Terrence Mann, before.  I remembered him from other stage shows such as "Cats" and the 2000 revival of "The Rocky Horror Show" but I was sure I had seen him in a movie.  So I looked him up and low and behold, not only had I seen him in a film...but I owned two of them.  So that inspired me to write about this particular B-movie that is a rip off of Gremlins but yet manages to find its own madcap spirit, much like the original Piranha.  It also includes several strange sci-fi elements that it manages to create its own strange mystique.  Lets chew on a snack and enjoy the little morsel that is Critters.

The story begins on a prison asteroid in the middle of an unexplored galaxy.  The prison is accepting a transport containing several Krites, small monsters with large jaws and teeth that roll about like hedgehogs.  The Krites are so dangerous that they must be imprisoned to protect the galaxy from being eaten.  However, someone makes a mistake and the Krites escape in a small shuttle.  Meanwhile, on Earth, it is another normal morning at the Brown home.  Brother and sister are fighting, mom is bored and under-appreciated, and dad is oblivious of anything that isn't farming.  Soon though, the shuttle lands in their backyard and the Browns soon find themselves under siege by several toothy creatures intent on having them for dinner.  To make matters more interesting, a pair of interstellar 'chameleon' bounty hunters have just landed on Earth and are shooting up the town of Grover's Mills in order to find the fugitive critters.  With time and ammunition running out, the Browns and the bounty hunters must work together to outsmart the Krites and save themselves from becoming the main course.

Critters is a fun little romp back into the 80s when popular culture was ripe for ripoffs and said ripoffs were actually made with a level of competency not seen otherwise.  New Line Cinema assembled a rather talented group of lesser-known actors such as Dee Wallace Stone and Terrence Mann to populate the frames of the film and also commissioned The Chiodo Brothers (who would later helm the fabulously whacky Killer Klowns from Outer Space) to do the creature effects.  The result is a film with a sense of humor and some decent suspense that is well-made despite being a cash in on the success of another popular monster movie.  Its no surprise then that the film spawned three sequels and still remains a popular creature feature standby of the 80s.  This film is perfect for a Friday or Saturday night when you're curled up with a bowl of popcorn and have nowhere else to be.  Enjoy it the way you would a bag of potato chips...as something empty yet satisfying.

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