The Critters Collection proves one thing to me. To know the Critters is to love them. Right now, at least one nerd screamed that the proper term is Krite. You are seen, little basement dweller. You are seen. But, let’s talk about the horror franchise that helped get me into horror. While New Line was the House that Freddy Krueger built, these movies helped ease in the younger generation to the American horror scene. After all, it was yet another perversion of the E.T. story, but told with nasty aliens.
Critters was always on when I was a kid. But, it was the heavily edited version on WGN where you didn’t know what Billy Zane was doing when he died. Time marched on and the 80 video stores around me all had copies of Critters 2. I still remember pleading with the guy at Kroger Video asking him if I could take home the giant Critter standee. He said No, so I kicked a hole in its crotch and ran off. What does this have to do with anything?
Scott Grimes is the key here. Yeah, he’s part of the Seth MacFarlane crew now working on American Dad and The Orville. But, he’s got that kid face and charm that wouldn’t be out of place in a Spielberg movie. Most horror movies in the 1980s were teen focused, but they wanted to put those kids through hell. Scott Grimes and the other kids in these movies have a fair shot against these alien villains. He even gets the town drunk in on the act to kill these guys.
Plus, you had cool shape shifting bounty hunters and the eventual promise of suggested nudity in a PG-13 movie. None of this was meant to be titillating. It was the idea that kids have when they sneak a peak or steal their way into a guarded area. The effort is in achieving something before you were meant to do it. Critters understands that.
Leonard DiCaprio, Angela Bassett and Brad Dourif were disconnected from that in later films. They became Sci-Fi/horror/action constructs designed to work the same premise in other environments. Yet, it never came together. The first two films should have been a duology that politely tweaked the E.T. mythos on the nose and existed as a fun part of the 80s horror mythos. But, they pushed it too hard.
Oh well, such is life.