A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
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?