Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

05 January 2008

Critters, dir. Stephen Herek (1986)

STEVE says:
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem opened here this weekend, and I thought it'd be fun to go check that out. "The power of a thousand suns," Nikki told me, "couldn't pull me into a theatre to witness that abomination." She didn't say that exactly, 'cos she's not a character from a Robert E. Howard novel, but the point was pretty clear: No. Fucking. Way.

So I thought it might be fun to have a double-feature of Aliens and Predator 2. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), we don't own a copy of Predator 2, and watching Aliens without irony is just no fun either, so that plan was shot to hell before it even got off the ground.

And then Nikki pulled Critters off the shelf.

Ah, Critters.

As Nikki has previously pointed out, we own don't own a copy of Gremlins, but we do own Gremlins 2 (the superior of the two, in my opinion), the Ghoulies/Ghoulies 2 double-pack, and Critters. While I cannot in my wildest imagination come up with an argument to justify owning Ghoulies over Gremlins (or at all, to be honest), much less Ghoulies 2, I feel I can make a case for Critters.

But I'm not going to. Instead, I quote Oblio_11 over there at in the "Critters vs. Gremlins" thread.
"Critters would have the upper hand, because they'd just eat the Gremlins, get bigger, and eat more Gremlins. But if one or two gremlins get wet, you've got more gremlins than the critters can handle! BAM! Gremlins have the upper hand. Oh, wait, then the sun comes up, and the gremlins either go indoors or melt in the light. Hmmmmmm..... tough one."
Either he's talking about actual Critters vs. actual Gremlins, or a Critters vs. Gremlins movie (gods help us), but it doesn't matter which because he illustrates his point with a BAM! Gotta love that. And it ties back in with the whole AvP:R thing I mentioned before, so I thought it was worth including.

Anyway, Critters.

Saw this in the theatre when it first came out in 1986, and I don't believe I've seen it since. But I always remembered it as being pretty cool. Upon a 2nd viewing, nearly 22 years later, I'd have to say it holds up. Apart from the obvious and - it has to be said - lame animatronics, the cheese factor was pretty low. But you want a bit of cheese from a movie like this because it's a throwback to monster invasion flicks like The Blob and It Came from Outer Space, which were cheesy in their own right, and Critters is happy enough to oblige on that level. It's respectful to the genre while still managing to be it's own movie. Not a great movie by any means, but still light-years ahead of other Gremlins-inspired shite like the aforementioned Ghoulies, or (*shudder*) Hobgoblins - which should only be watched with Mike and the 'bots - and even then, have a friend come around later to see if you're alright.

I'm giving Critters a 3 out of 5. In all actuality, it probably only deserves a 2.5, but it gets an extra .5 for giving Dee Wallace Stone top billing.

NIKKI says:
Steve suggested after four days of films mostly new to us, we should choose an old fave, or something close to that. Admittedly, I was in the mood for just such a movie. I wasn't, however, up for one of our standard faves: Lebowski, Office Space, Shaun... I wanted something I knew, but couldn't necessarily recite. How we ended up choosing Critters, I'm not so sure. I had just come back from the pub where I was shouted three JagerBombs. (Did you know Red Bull is actually yellow-coloured? Fascinating.) Anyway, Critters it was.

I hadn't seen the movie in a long time. In fact, to hazard a guess, I'd say it's been about 17 years. Not quite as long as Steve, but long enough to forget just how mega-cheesy the Critter-effects are! They don't really look scary anymore, because they don't look entirely in proportion. Their scary, teeth-ridden mouths appear permanently wide open, so chomping actually looks like it might be hard for the creatures. But then an open Critter mouth hitting the body full-tilt would hurt -- much like the circular TB needle I had in Grade 5. Cheesy animatronics, though, are far better than stupid computer drawings like those in the recent I Am Legend.

Story... yeah, it was okay. Reminiscent of Night of the Creeps a little bit, with the ship in the beginning. I enjoyed how Scott Grimes' character (Brad) was hip to explosives right when explosives were just the thing needed to eradicate the Critter problem. Eighties movies worked like that -- back in simpler times. I was just as freaked out by Don Opper's teeth as I used to be, not to mention Terrence Mann's hair. The eighties were all over this movie, reveling in their colourful bigness. I could use last night's experience as a jumping off point to a week of campy horror films from the period -- Ghoulies, Xtro, Basket Case and the like. It takes me back.

I give Critters 3 out of 5 and strongly recommend Scott Grimes' tune for a warm Summer day. He just wants to fly away...

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