They Do Not Come in Peace – Critters (1986)

When most people think back upon the movie Critters, all they remember are those tiny, little killer monsters that were sort of cute in a non-conventional way. Yet Critters was surprisingly far more than that, featuring a good dose of humour and a number of aliens to boot. It is the aliens especially that most people gloss over, but they did have a fairly big part in the film and at least for the first of four movies featuring these murderous creatures, they were essential to the storyline. That is not to say that the movie is all science-fiction either as it does feature a good dose of horror, but the roots are there and they blend together quite well. The monsters in this film might be small as it were, but they are indeed ferocious and despite the lightheartedness of a good portion of the movie, director Stephen Herek does create some good tension and a few scares as well.

The story begins with the creatures which are called Krites or Crites or Critters and they have escaped their space prison and landed on Earth, prompting a couple of bounty hunters who also happen to be shape-changers, to go after them. For one poor family, they find themselves under siege by the Critters and it takes all they have as well as some ingenuity from son Brad to fend them off.

Starring a plethora of familiar faces like M. Emmet Walsh, Dee Wallace, Billy Zane, Ethan Phillips, a young Scott Grimes and more, Critters ends up being a truly fun time, more so than one might have thought. Much like Ghoulies or Gremlins which are not all that far removed from this film, it does not take itself seriously and it is easy to tell that both the filmmaker and the cast are having a good time with the material. The Critters look great, the special effects being better than expected and though they might be monsters, they provide a lot of the humour, as ridiculous and as silly as it soon becomes. What is most interesting is the fact that these diminutive murder machines do not always remain so and it is then understandable as to why the bounty hunters are so keen on getting to them as the sooner they do so, the better.

While there is a bit of blood present, Critters is a film that the whole family can enjoy. The lead of the picture is a kid much like Elliot from E.T. and though the alien monsters are not as cuddly, they do make for a very entertaining time and factoring in some humour was a great way for the movie to not only stay grounded due to its science-fiction leanings, but to keep it much lighter than it would have been otherwise. With a strong cast, a fun and exciting tale and a few laughs, Critters is a truly good time to be had.

4 out of 5

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