Film critic Roger Ebert wrote of CRITTERS in 1986 that “what makes CRITTERS more than a ripoff [of GREMLINS] are its humor and its sense of style. This is a movie made by people who must have fun making it.” CRITTERS—as well as it’s three sequels—will be invading your home on this month thanks to the gang at Scream Factory with the release of their four disc CRITTERS COLLECTION. We’ve got an exclusive clip from the special features of Stephen Herek’s original cult classic.
The clip looks back at the struggles the filmmakers—including monster movie legends, the Chiodo brothers—had with the MPAA while cutting the original film. CRITTERS was released as a PG-13 in September of ’86 and a bit of the violence and gore needed to be trimmed to avoid an R rating, including the particularly nasty death of Billy Zane’s character. The Chiodo’s also go into “the intellectual discussion the professionals have talking about a Critter jumping up and chewing out your insides.”
Gore hounds may disagree, but the CRITTERS films arguably worked better without an overabundance of blood and guts. CRITTERS was part of the wave of Gremlinsploitation films that rolled into theaters (and out of toilets) in the wake of the success of Joe Dante’s Loony Tunes inspired horror comedy. While GREMLINS featured a healthy dose of cynicism and surprising violence, there is a good natured sensibility that drives CRITTERS—as well as Mick Garris’ western influenced THE MAIN COURSE—and amplifies the series’ themes of friendship and finding ones purpose. CRITTERS 3 is a by the numbers outing (featuring Leonardo DiCaprio) and CRITTERS 4 takes the series into Aliensploitation territory and features a surprisingly heartbreaking climax. As there were no boundaries in my home growing up, CRITTERS was a Vanderbilt family movie when it was released on home video in the ‘80s, and with its wry sense of humor and funny, cool monsters, is perfect for less sensitive youngsters.
THE CRITTERS COLLECTION comes home for dinner November 27.