Gort vs Critters: eating film stars before they get famous

Dominic Muir had a dream. That dream was of a twisted blend of a piranha, a Gremlin, a Tribble and Sonic The Hedgehog. A creature who could rid the world of Hollywood film stars by chomming down on them before they had chance to shine.

In 1986, he realised that vision with the film Critters, then three more times after that with the sequels, and over the course of the four films, a whole raft of before-they-were-famous celebs got nommed. Hit the jump to see who's on the menu:


Despite claims that Critters was written long in advance of Gremlins, and was actually changed to avoid comparison, the film is clearly just an attempt to cash in on the latter's success, they even attack an ET doll at one point. This doesn't, however, mean that it's not a hell of a lot of fun. The titular Critters are a dangerous band of miscreant aliens who escape captivity to a small town in Kansas and put a farming family under siege. The Walton-esque parents, slut daughter, pyromaniac son, future ER star Scott Grimes, and Charlie, the town drunk, are rescued by two shape-shifting alien bounty hunters armed with Red Dwarf-esque bazookoids. The film ends with the Critters blown to shreds, but their incubating eggs safely hidden away in a barn ready for the sequel.

Critters is standard B-movie fare, despite some reasonable performances, but it's saved by two things. Firstly, the creature designs are brilliant. Blink-and-you'll-miss-them aliens will stick in your memory as they've clearly had more effort put into them than was necessary. On the other hand, the "Crites" themselves, to use their proper name, are brilliant, whether they're chewing on someone's face with rows of needle-sharp teeth, rolling about the floor in little, curled-up Sonic-style balls, or firing poisonous quills into hapless humans. The creature effects can't quite live up to the designs, but there's still some good work here, given the minimal budget. Second, the above-par humour. Some of the Critters subtitled lines will have you wetting yourself, while even the family get some good puns. Overall, this is a true B-movie Classic.

Celebrity death count: Billy ZaneEthan Philips
Verdict: 4 out of 5 Critters

Critters 2: The Main Course

Following up two years after the original, the sequel is nowhere near as iconic as the first film. The plot is weaker and the cast nowhere near as good, despite many returning, including Grimes and Charlie, though the town Sheriff has turned into a much-younger man than M Emmet Walsh. However, the humour, the gore and the bedlam is cranked up to 11.

Brad heads back to his home town from college to visit his, hitherto-unmentioned, grandmother, just in time for the eggs to hatch and all hell to break loose, but never fear, Charlie is back, this time forming a trio of badassness with the shape-shifting bounty hunters, now named Ug and Lee. Despite there being only four eggs at the end of Critters, the film takes the Aliens route and besieges the town with hundreds of little blighters. The effects are nothing short of incredible considering the budget, and scenes such as one of the shape-shifters morphing into a Playboy centrefold, complete with staple through the belly, or a giant ball made up of hundreds of Critters rolling over people leaving only bloody skeletons behind, are sure to stick in your mind. Genius, which is unsurprising given that it was the first screenplay written by none other than David Twohy.

Celebrity death count: None, sad panda

Verdict: 5 out of 5 Critters

Critters 3

Ah, that tricky first step any franchise takes away from the original cast and location. Here, Charlie heads out to the big city to save an apartment block full of tenants from the last of the Crites, including a scarily-young Leo Dicaprio. There's still some great gore and some funny moments, but this is pretty-thin stuff and the shoe-horning in of Charlie is actually painful. Still, Dicaprio is good, as is almost-was Aimee Brooks. The main point of interest is the cliffhanger ending that sees Charlie and the last Crites cryogenically frozen and fired off into space to report to a council of alien leaders.

Celebrity death count: Geoffrey Blake

Verdict: 3 out of 5 Critters

Critters 4

Setting the template for transplanting horror franchises into orbit, we like to call this one "Critters in Spaaaaaaaaaace" and this film really wants to be Alien. Joss Whedon is clearly a fan as the plot is identical to Alien Resurrection. 50 years after the last movie ended, a ragtag band of space pirates come across Charlie's pod, which was never recovered for reasons never explained. They make a deal with an evil corporation to deliver the cargo to a space station, where incompetence sees the Crites released and the station nearing destruction, leaving the pirates to escape with their lives. Though that's not the end of the homage, there's a Star Wars garbage masher scene, an Alien life-signs radar scene and the ending is just the climax to Alien 3.

On the plus side, the film features a butt-naked Angela Bassett (though clearly a body double) and the legendary Brad Dourif (not naked). However, what it lacks is the humour that is the whole point of the franchise. This film makes Bladerunner look cheery for the most part, but far worse, commits that cardinal sin of being dull for the majority of the run time. David J Schow, writer of The Crow, is partly responsible for the script, so there is no excuse. This rightly killed the franchise.

Celebrity death count: Brad Dourif

Verdict: 2 out of 5 Critters

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