Film / Critters

Critters is a film series featuring a group of deadly little furry aliens with several rows of teeth known as "Crites". The first film, directed by Stephen Herek, was released in 1986. In it, the title creatures terrorize a farm, with a pair of alien bounty hunters on their trail. It Starred a young Scott Grimes; also starring: Dee Wallace-Stone, M. Emmet Walsh, Ethan Phillips, Billy Zane, Don Keith Opper, and Terrance Mann. The latter two would appear in all of the films.

The second film was released in 1988, featuring the return of Scott Grimes as Bradley Brown (the main character from the first film). The terror starts when the creature's eggs are mistaken for Easter eggs; they quickly multiply after they hatch.

The third film, starring Leonardo DiCaprio in his film debut, begins when a family who has recently lost their mother move into an apartment, followed by the title creatures after hitching a ride in their truck.

The final film takes place many years later in space, where they try to wipe out the remaining species of Crites.

The series is often compared to the Gremlins series despite the script for the film having been before the film was released.

A short Fan Film, Critters: Bounty Hunter, was released in 2014. It's available on YouTube.

This film series provides examples of the following tropes:

  • A.I. is a Crapshoot: The computer system on board the fourth film's space base leaves much to be desired. It does the opposite of what it is ordered and generally isn't very helpful.
  • Antagonist Title: The Critters are aliens that devour everything.
  • Ascended Fanboy: The first film ends with village idiot Charlie following the alien bounty hunters as they prepare to leave. By the second film he has become a bounty hunter himself.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Any humans killed by the bounty hunters.
    • Not to mention the landlord and the Janitor in Critters 3.
  • Badass Grandma: Ms. Mendes in Critters 3, even if she only gets to show it once.
    Mrs. Mendes: How about a meat cleaver, dear?
    *holds up gigantic meat cleaver*
  • Bizarre Alien Locomotion: Crites curl up and roll like balls when they need to move quickly. In the second film, a whole pack of Crites form a single giant, rolling, biting ball that rolls over people.
  • The Blank: Ug and Lee's default forms are glowing green faces that lack features.
  • Bounty Hunter: Space bounty hunters are dispatched to kill the Crites in the original film, and feature to some extent in all the sequels.
  • The Can Kicked Him: In the original a Crite tries to escape via the toilet, which is then blown up.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Charlie throughout the four films is shown to be pretty idiotic, naive, awkward, goofy, and sometimes doesn't think things through. Yet he demonstrates good aim at times (blows up several Crites in the third movie), bravery (end of the second film), willpower (end of the fourth film), adaption of future tech minutes after unfreezing (figured out how to fire a laser gun but his aim was a little off), and improvising when it counts (1st film).
  • Darker and Edgier: The first two films had their grim moments but weren't so bad, there were no super terrifying deaths. The second was a bit darker with Lee's death. The third one was a bit lighter once we got past the jerk ass landlord's very gory death. The fourth is the darkest with the highest amount of the cast dying and Ug becoming an asshole and getting killed by Charlie.
  • Death by Sex: Steve's attempt to get it on with April in the barn only scores him first place on the Crites' menu.
  • Destructive Savior: The bounty hunters in the first film cause a lot of damage while hunting down the Crites.
  • Face–Heel Turn: At some point in the years between films three and four, formerly heroic Ug becomes a corporate asshole.
  • Fingore: In the original April's boyfriend Steve (Billy Zane) gets his fingers on his right hand bitten off by one of the crites as he reaches to change the radio station.
  • Fun with Subtitles: "Critterese" gets translated into English with subtitles.
  • Giant Mook: A larger Crite appears in each of the first two films. Though, the one in the second movie turned out to be Ug in disguise.
  • Groin Attack: The unfortunate Easter bunny in Critters 2 has Critters attack his crotch.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Ug completely loses it when his partner is killed in Critters 2.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Second film happens at Easter.
  • Human Popsicle: Charlie and a two Crite eggs get cryogenically frozen at the end of the third film, setting up the events of part 4.
  • Magic Countdown: Subverted, because the ship's AI is too stupid to realize that talking is not a free action.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: All three sequels have the phrase "No critters were harmed in the making of this movie" turn up in the credits.
  • Numbered Sequels
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Quite a few, but the father's reaction in the first film when one of the Crites' poison spines slams into the wood an inch from his eyes is probably the strongest example.
    • One of the Critters even has a moment of this; see below under Tempting Fate.
  • One-Word Title
  • Power-Up Food: In the first film the Crites get progressively bigger the more they eat. One of them is roughly the size of an adult human by the conclusion. This is largely abandoned in the later films, particularly the third and fourth.
  • Precision F-Strike: A Krite utters "fuck" (its subtitled) in the original after witnessing another of its kind get shot.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: Though the Crites are canonically aliens, the first movies take place mostly on Earth. The fourth film shifts things to a sci-fi setting, and Alien and Star Wars rip-offs abound. It's even called Critters 4: Critters in Space in some releases.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Not so much, though there is an element of Ugly Cute to them.
  • Sequel Escalation: After a handful of Crites terrorize a farmhouse and the surrounding area in the first film, their far more numerous offspring take on the entire neighbouring town in part 2.
  • Sequel Hook: The first film ends with a shot of Crite eggs, while the third film ends with a space pod showing up to get the last Crite eggs from Charlie and a "To be continued" cliffhanger.
  • Shapeshifter Default Form: The bounty hunters start as Type A blank faces. Through the sequels Ug is Type B, allowing Terrance Mann to continue playing him.
  • Shoot the Television: In the original movie, Ug fires his weapon at a TV set in a bowling alley, which causes a ruckus with several of the town locals.
  • Spike Shooter: The Crites can shoot venomous quills that render victims unconscious.
  • Stock Footage: The exterior shots in Critters 4 are cobbled together from a variety of sci-fi films. The Bounty hunters use fast forwarded stock footage to learn about 1980s era Earth aka American pop culture to assimilate. One of the bounty hunters takes on the form of Johnny Steel an 80s Rock Musician
  • Stripped to the Bone: A victim of the Krite Ball in Critters 2. This rare example shows the bones in a small amount of bloody "meat".
  • Sudden Sequel Heel Syndrome: Ug in the fourth movie becomes an uncaring asshole willing to kill anyone who tries to keep him from dealing with the Crites on his terms.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Played for Laughs and averted in the fourth film's climax, where the ship's computer starts a countdown for its self-destruct while the heroes escape and stops the countdown to thank one of them for calling it the dumbest computer ever. Once the computer resumes the countdown, the ship explodes before the countdown is finished, much to the heroes' amusement.
  • Tempting Fate: "They have weapons." "So what?" BLAM. "Fuck!"
  • Toilet Teleportation: Subverted when one of the Crites attempts to escape from the bounty hunters via the toilet bowl. It's a bit too fat to fit, and can't squeeze down the hole before one of the hunters blows it (and the toilet itself) away.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: The bounty hunters can change their appearance to blend in on alien planets. The rules of how it works seem to vary between the first and second films.
  • The Worm That Walks: More like the ever-hungry ball that rolls.

Alternative Title(s): Critters 2 The Main Course, Critters 3, Critters 4