Critters (film)

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This article is about the 1986 film. For other films in the series, see Critters (film series). For other uses, see Critters (disambiguation).
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Stephen Herek
Produced by Robert Shaye
Written by Stephen Herek
Domonic Muir
Don Keith Opper
Music by David Newman
Cinematography Tim Suhrstedt
Edited by Larry Bock
Distributed by New Line Cinema1
Release dates
  • April 11, 1986 (1986-04-11)
Running time
82 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2 million
Box office $13,167,232 (US)[1]

Critters is a 1986 science fiction film comedy horror film starring Dee Wallace-Stone, M. Emmet Walsh, Billy Green Bush and Scott Grimes. It was the directorial debut of Stephen Herek who co-wrote it alongside Domonic Muir (story) and Don Keith Opper (additional scenes). It is the first film in the Critters series. Although widely believed to have been inspired by the success of Joe Dante's 1984 film Gremlins,[2][3] Herek has refuted this in interviews, pointing out that the script was written by Muir long before Gremlins went into production and subsequently underwent rewrites to reduce the apparent similarities between the two films.[4]


The film begins on a prison set on an asteroid, from which a group of 'Crites' are set to be transported to another station. When the Crites kill two guards and injure three, hijack a ship from the station, and escape, the commander of the station hires two shape-changing bounty hunters to pursue them.

On Earth, the Brown family are living in a rural Kansas town: the father, Jay; the mother, Helen; the teenage daughter, April; and the son, Brad, who keeps company with mechanic Charlie McFadden. When he and Brad are outside,shooting off homemade fireworks and playing with Brad's slingshot. Charlie accidentally hits Brad's sister with a slingshot pellet, and Brad assumes the blame on himself to protect his friend ( one of his apparent only friends thought the movie) Charlie. When later on the roof, Brad mistakes the Crites' spaceship for a meteorite. The ship thereafter lands, causing the ground to shake. Investigating, Jay discovers Brad in a tree, and takes him into the investigation.

Devouring the majority of a steer, the Crites are interrupted by Jay and Brad's discovery of the carcass. The Crites thereafter consume a police officer, and later approach the farm and cut its electrical connection. To explore this, Jay, Helen, and Brad go to the circuit breaker where Jay is attacked by one of the Critters. The Critters reveal they can shoot small metal darts laced with a fast acting poison that tranquilizes their targets, rendering the limb or the body temporarily numb or useless, and hit Jay in the right leg with one as his family struggles to pull him out of the basement. In the barn, April is attempting sexual intercourse with her boyfriend Steve when he is killed by the Crites, which Brad then kills one of them by tricking it into eating a cherry bomb firecracker he had in his pocket. Meanwhile the two bounty hunters search the town, causing a ruckus at the town church, and then the local bowling alley and are later recruited by Brad. The Critters return to their ship when the bounty hunters arrive, with their leader having kidnapped April, and start the ship up to fly away and escape the bounty hunters as well as firing the ships weapons to destroy the family's house out of pure malice; only then do they realize that Charlie and Brad were able to get April out of the ship before it took off and Brad has thrown a homemade bomb into the ship, to which Charlie made his bottle of whiskey into a firebomb and threw that into the ship, causing a fire which lights off both the homemade bomb and the additional fuel the ship was carrying, the explosion supposedly killing all the Critters. The bounty hunters leave in their ship after giving Brad a hand held device that they say to "call them" by, and also by which the family's house is restored. At the very end, Critter eggs can be seen in the barn inside a chickens nest that seem to be ready to hatch.


See also[edit]


The film was released theatrically in the United States by New Line Cinema in April 1986. It turned out to be a modest hit for the company, grossing $13,167,232 at the box office.[1]

The film was released on VHS and laserdisc by RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video the same year. In September 1997, New Line Home Video re-released the film on VHS.

In 2003, New Line Home Entertainment released the film on DVD. The film was re-released in a set containing all 4 Critters films on DVD by Warner Bros. in 2010.


According to Rotten Tomatoes, 57% of reviewers gave the film a positive review.[5]

Web series[edit]

Warner Bros. have announced their plans to produce a web series based on the Critters franchise. [6]


  1. ^ The film's distribution rights were transferred to Warner Bros. in 2008.


  1. ^ a b "Critters". Retrieved 2011-03-29. 
  2. ^ "Critters". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  3. ^ "DVD Stalk: Asylum, Masters of Horror, Critters, and Region Free Horror Highlights". 
  4. ^ Excerpt from interview with Stephen Herek, Critters UK VHS liner notes (Cinema Club edition)
  5. ^ "Critters". 11 April 1986. 
  6. ^ Gallagher, Brian. "'Static Shock' and 'Critters' Digital Series in Development". MovieWeb. Retrieved January 12, 2016. 

External links[edit]