Critters (1986)

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Critters (1986)

Post  BoG on Thu Jun 04, 2015 12:56 am

The proper name for these Critters is "Crites" - they're alien criminals, essentially, a plot device that goes way back to The Zanti Misfits episode of the old Outer Limits show (1964). The preamble takes place at some prison asteroid, dominated mostly by vocals as exposition; 8 Crites escape in a spaceship and end up near a farm on Earth. These things are like the Tribbles from Star Trek but with very sharp teeth and the ability to move quickly, including the method of rolling along like tumbleweeds; though they're a lot smaller in size than humans, if they grab a hold of someone, they may be able to chew them to death. On the farm is a typical nuclear family - the father (Billy Green Bush), the mom (Dee Wallace) and two kids - a late teens girl and early teens boy (Scott Grimes). Also on site is the girl's new boyfriend (Billy Zane), whom the girl had invited to dinner and later a make-out session in the barn. This was the wrong time to visit, however.

To complicate matters further, hot on the trail of the Crites are a couple of alien bounty hunters who are humanoid and can change their formless faces to copy humans they see, including a rock 'n' roll star (Terrence Mann) and a local preacher. Unfortunately for the local community, the bounty hunters see no problem in wreaking havoc in their search and they seem to search in all the wrong areas. Meanwhile, under siege in their home, the family finds out that the Critters have multiple abilities, such as shooting poisonous numbing quills, as if they are alien porcupines. In the final act, one of the Critters grows to the size of a bear for unexplained reasons. This was a fairly effective combo of sci-fi horror and comedy, and it spawned several sequels, though it's a bit slow in the early going. There is one hilarious bit around the middle when the Crites' alien language is translated and it turns out they use the same foul language as Earth criminals when under stress. It also stars M. Emmet Walsh as the sheriff. Scott Grimes as the son returned in the sequel.  BoG's Score: 6.5 out of 10

Critter Trivia: Don Keith Opper, in a dual role of a local dweeb mechanic and one of the bounty hunters, also had a hand in the writing;
Star Trek actor alert: Ethan Phillips has a small role as a deputy and, very briefly, as one of the alien bounty hunters when the hunter changes to resemble him; Phillips got the regular role of Neelix on Star Trek Voyager nearly a decade later.
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