By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Low-budget '80s horror-comedy has violence, cursing.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
"Earth is a culture of many contrasts."
Positive Role Models
At 13, Brad is unusually brave, responsible, and loyal. His father, Jay, does his best to protect the family from marauders but is wounded and trusts the son to help save them all. The bounty hunters from another galaxy seem clueless.
Violence & Scariness
Krites, man-eating, furry creatures with sharp, multi-row teeth, escape outer space prison, steal a spaceship, and land on a farm on earth, ready to feed. They kill and eat chickens, a steer, and humans. Bloody wounds are seen. Victims are heard screaming in pain and fear. A man is thrown through a window. Krites catapult poisoned quills at their victims. The wound leaves a nasty hump. A girl is dragged by a large Krite through the woods and into a spaceship, presumably to be eaten. Alien bounty hunters shoot up a bowling alley and a church and destroy a farmhouse while looking for the Krites. The hunters morph their faces into the faces of people in their presence, which looks grotesque. Krites are killed by a falling ceiling fan, by shot gun blast, by ingesting a lighted firecracker, and from an explosion.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
A man asks his wife if she's talked to their teenaged daughter about "the way things are," meaning sex. The mother replies, "Years ago." A teenage boy and girl make out, fully clothed in a barn.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
"F--k" (written in a subtitle), "s--t," "goddamn," "hell," "dork."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
A boy hides behind a large old box of Coca-Cola.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink and smoke cigarettes. An alcoholic drinks from a bottle in his pocket and also at a bar.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the 1986 Critters is a low-budget knock-off of producer Steven Spielberg's 1984 hit horror comedy, Gremlins. Be aware that the violence and profanity of Gremlins made it one of the movies that prompted the creation of the PG-13 MPAA rating, and the same factors make Critters iffy for sensitive younger viewers. Voracious, man-eating space creatures take large bites out of people, exposing lots of flesh and blood. Alien bounty hunters blow things up, and there is some clothed making out and profanity, including "f--k," "s--t," and "goddamn." An alcoholic who claimed to be receiving signals from outer space is vindicated by the arrival of two large spaceships.
To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Where to Watch
Videos and Photos
Based on 3 parent reviews
very much like Gremlins
Report this review
Low budget, low movie
Report this review
What's the Story?
In CRITTERS, criminal creatures from outer space called Krites escape a prison and hijack a powerful spaceship that takes them to earth, where they proceed to feed on anything and everything from feather bedding to live humans. They terrorize an isolated farm family, cutting off the power and telephone lines, leaving the farmer (Billy Green Bush), his wife (Dee Wallace), and two children to fight back as best they can until help arrives. Alien bounty hunters find their way to the earth, too, but, deadpan and clueless, cause as much damage as they prevent, using powerful weaponry to destroy a bowling alley and a home where the Krites might be hiding. Luck and some human courage and ingenuity save the day, at least temporarily. The ending suggests the opportunity for sequels, and three were made. (Critters 3 featured young Leonardo DiCaprio's film debut.)
Is It Any Good?
This '80s movie serves up violence, high tension, scariness, comedy, and family values, a mix that is pretty hokey and full of predictable "surprises." Critters achieves its hokey-ness in the quest to imitate the likes of such hits as Gremlins and E.T. We've all seen those suspenseful movie moments when a character who thinks the danger has passed breathes a sigh of relief in spite of the fact that menace is poised around the corner. That sort of plotting is the main course here. Since horror movie lovers are not usually averse to a certain amount of cliche, "hokey" and "predictable" could be viewed as high recommendation. Nevertheless, this is still an unashamed Gremlins clone, complete with the nice-family-under-siege narrative and comedy-horror mix, budgeted at around $9 million less.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how Critters is meant to be viewed. Does the mixture of comedy and bloody horror make the frightening aspects of the movie easier to take? Why or why not?
What do you think the movie's message is? Do most horror movies have messages? What are some others you can think of?
Do you think this movie is intended to appeal to kids? Why or why not?
How does this differ from other horror movies you've seen?
- In theaters: April 11, 1986
- On DVD or streaming: January 9, 2007
- Cast: Dee Wallace, Billy Green Bush, M. Emmett Walsh, Scott Grimes
- Director: Stephen Herk
- Studio: New Line Hone Video
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 86 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- Last updated: April 3, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Where to Watch
Our Editors Recommend
Scary (But Not TOO Scary!) Halloween Movies
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate