Critters (1986)

PG-13 | 86 mins | Horror | 11 April 1986

Producer:

Rupert Harvey

Cinematographer:

Tim Suhrstedt

Editor:

Larry Bock

Production Designer:

Gregg Fonseca

Production Company:

SHO Films
Full page view
HISTORY

       According to a Feb 1986 Monsterland article, director Stephen Herek struck up a friendship with screenwriter Dominic Muir when they were working as assistant editors on the film City Limits (1985, see entry). Herek was looking for his next project, and Muir offered his Critters script, which he had written almost three years earlier. Herek worked on Muir’s script, then took it to Sho Films because of an existing working relationship to get advice on how to get the picture made. Shortly thereafter, Sho Film executives agreed to develop the project.
       A 15 May 1985 Var news item announced that the $3 million film would begin principal photography in Jul 1985. The Feb 1986 Monsterland stated that the picture had a six-week shooting schedule.
       According to a 26 Oct 1985 Daily News article, the film was shot on location in
Valencia, CA. In one sequence in which a two-story, white farmhouse was blown up,
special effects coordinator Chuck Stewart employed the talents of Joseph Lombardi, the
special effects coordinator on Apocalypse Now (1979, see entry). Together the men
rigged the farmhouse’s second-floor ceiling with rubber-insulated wire known as
Primacord, that carried an explosive charge inside it. Lombardi was brought in as a
consultant to make sure the explosion was carried out in three stages: as a flash, the
destruction of the roof, and finally, the first floor of the house. A contingent from the Los
Angeles County Fire Department was on standby, while the crew waited hours until
5:00 a.m., after winds died down to detonate the explosion. No brush fires, which ... More Less

       According to a Feb 1986 Monsterland article, director Stephen Herek struck up a friendship with screenwriter Dominic Muir when they were working as assistant editors on the film City Limits (1985, see entry). Herek was looking for his next project, and Muir offered his Critters script, which he had written almost three years earlier. Herek worked on Muir’s script, then took it to Sho Films because of an existing working relationship to get advice on how to get the picture made. Shortly thereafter, Sho Film executives agreed to develop the project.
       A 15 May 1985 Var news item announced that the $3 million film would begin principal photography in Jul 1985. The Feb 1986 Monsterland stated that the picture had a six-week shooting schedule.
       According to a 26 Oct 1985 Daily News article, the film was shot on location in
Valencia, CA. In one sequence in which a two-story, white farmhouse was blown up,
special effects coordinator Chuck Stewart employed the talents of Joseph Lombardi, the
special effects coordinator on Apocalypse Now (1979, see entry). Together the men
rigged the farmhouse’s second-floor ceiling with rubber-insulated wire known as
Primacord, that carried an explosive charge inside it. Lombardi was brought in as a
consultant to make sure the explosion was carried out in three stages: as a flash, the
destruction of the roof, and finally, the first floor of the house. A contingent from the Los
Angeles County Fire Department was on standby, while the crew waited hours until
5:00 a.m., after winds died down to detonate the explosion. No brush fires, which had
been a concern, were started by the special effect the despite surrounding dry brush.
       As stated in a Feb 1986 Fangoria article, for the sequence in which a critter swallows a cherry bomb, puppeteers controlled the stomach and eye movements, positioned below the marionette critter in a hayloft. Critter crew member Dwight Roberts commented that coordinating the critter’s bulging stomach and eyes as it keeled over in the hay took some effort because of the number of people needed to articulate the small creature.
       The 15 May 1985 Var stated that the film marked the theatrical directorial debut of Stephen Herek.

      End credits state: “Television interview – ‘Two Guys Who Watch Movies,’ courtesy of Sudden Snafu Productions,” and “Bowling Alley TV episode – ‘Flaming Frontiers: Trapped by Fire.’” The following acknowledgment appears in end credits: “Special thanks to Pat Rand.”
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily News
26 Oct 1985.
---
Daily Variety
3 May 1985.
---
Fangoria
Feb 1986
p. 50-52
Hollywood Reporter
15 Apr 1986
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
25 Apr 1986
Section VI, p. 8.
Monsterland
Feb 1986
p. 25-26.
New York Times
11 Apr 1986
p. 20.
Variety
15 May 1985.
---
Variety
9 Apr 1986
p. 12.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
New Line Cinema Presents
in association with Smart Egg Pictures
a Sho Films production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
3d asst dir
3d asst dir
1st unit addl asst dir
1st unit addl asst dir
Dir, 2d unit
Asst dir, 2d unit
Asst dir, 2d unit
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Story
Addl scenes written by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Gaffer
Elec best boy
Elec
Key grip
Best boy/Dolly grip
Still photog
Dir of photog, Addl photog
Asst cam, Addl photog
Gaffer, Addl photog
Elec, Addl photog
Elec, Addl photog
Grip, Addl photog
Grip, Addl photog
Dir of photog, 2d unit
Asst cam, 2d unit
Addl asst cam, 2d unit
Addl asst cam, 2d unit
Addl asst cam, 2d unit
Gaffer, 2d unit
Grip, 2d unit
Video services by
Hollywood, California
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dept coord
Storyboard artist
Art dir, 2d unit
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Const coord
Prop master
Props asst
Set dec
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Leadman
Scenic painter
Stand-by carpenter
Stand-by carpenter
Stand-by carpenter
Spec props supv
Crew
Crew
Prop master, Addl photog
Set const, Addl photog
Set const, Addl photog
Spec props, Addl photog
Props, 2d unit
Set dresser, 2d unit
COSTUMES
Cos des supv
Key costumer
Addl costumer
Asst costumer
Asst costumer
MUSIC
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Sd mixer, Addl photog
Sd mixer, 2d unit
Post prod services by
Sd editing by
Supv sd ed
Post prod sd by
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd services by
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff team
Spec eff team
Spec eff team
Spec eff team
Crew, Available Light Limited
Crew, Available Light Limited
Crew, Available Light Limited
Crew, Available Light Limited
Crew, Available Light Limited
Crew, Available Light Limited
Crew, Available Light Limited
Crew, Available Light Limited
Crew, Available Light Limited
Crew, Available Light Limited
Crew, Available Light Limited
Eff supv
Prod supv
Model maker & crew
Model maker & crew
Model maker & crew
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Main title des
Title opticals by
MAKEUP
Key make-up and hair
Make-up and hair
Make-up and hair
Spec eff makeup
Spec eff makeup
Spec eff makeup
Spec eff makeup
/J. Goodwin Co.
Spec eff makeup
Spec eff makeup
Spec eff makeup
Spec eff makeup
Spec eff makeup
Spec eff makeup
Spec eff makeup
Spec eff makeup
Transformations and "Zanti" make-up
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod coord
Loc scout
Transportation coord
Casting asst
Extra casting
Scr supv, Addl photog
Scr supv, 2d unit
Prod asst, 2d unit
Legal services
Prod accountant
Prod secy
Unit pub
Catering
Animal trainer
Animal trainer
Studio teacher
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Craft service
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stand-in
Stand-in
ANIMATION
Critter des and supv
Critter des and supv
Critter crew
Critter crew
Critter crew
Critter crew
Critter crew
Critter crew
Critter crew
Critter crew
Critter crew
Critter crew
Critter crew
Critter crew
Critter crew
Critter crew
Critter crew
Critter crew
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
“Power Of The Night,” written by Terrence Mann, Richie Vetter & Dodie Pettit, performed by Mann, produced by Richie Vetter for East Coast Productions, Inc., published by Sho Music
“Leather,” written by Richie Vetter & Dodie Pettit, performed by White Chicks, produced by Richie Vetter, published by Sho Music
“Still You Turn Me On,” written by Brian Drucks & Lee Howard, performed by The Mix, produced by Richie Vetter & Joe Ariotta, published by Sho Music
+
SONGS
“Power Of The Night,” written by Terrence Mann, Richie Vetter & Dodie Pettit, performed by Mann, produced by Richie Vetter for East Coast Productions, Inc., published by Sho Music
“Leather,” written by Richie Vetter & Dodie Pettit, performed by White Chicks, produced by Richie Vetter, published by Sho Music
“Still You Turn Me On,” written by Brian Drucks & Lee Howard, performed by The Mix, produced by Richie Vetter & Joe Ariotta, published by Sho Music
“No Turning Back,” written by Ché Zuro ©1985, produced by Paul Ray & Ché Zuro, published by Sho Music.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
11 April 1986
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 11 April 1986
Los Angeles opening: 25 April 1986
Production Date:
began July 1985 in Valencia, CA
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
86
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

As eight Krites, or “critters,” are transported to maximum security Prison Asteroid-Sector 17, they escape after hijacking a prison ship. The prison warden appoints two bounty hunters to find the critters and execute them. In Kansas, Brad Brown locks himself in the bathroom, and plunges a thermometer under hot water. April Brown, his teenage sister, complains to her mother, Helen, that she is locked out, and then, receives a telephone call from her new boyfriend, Steve Elliot, a transplant from New York City. Brad sits at the kitchen table with the thermometer in his mouth, pretending to be sick. According to Helen, the thermometer reads 106 degrees, but April says that if Brad stays home from school, he will miss his geometry test. She wonders if Brad will have the same poor results as his last test. Brad’s father, Jay Brown, orders him to go to school. At a Kansas police station, Sally, the secretary, informs Sheriff Harv that the drunken Brown farmhand, Charlie McFadden, is sleeping in one of the cells. Once he awakens, Charlie McFadden tells Sheriff Harv that he is getting messages from his dental fillings that Martians are invading Earth. Sheriff Harv tells Charlie to forget about Martians, and go to work. The warden contacts the bounty hunters during their mission to say that the Krites are bound for Earth. To better assimilate, one bounty hunter transforms himself into Johnny Steele, a popular rock musician on Earth. The second bounty hunter waits to disguise his lack of facial features. At the Brown farm, Brad and Charlie McFadden cheer as they successfully explode a toy space ship. Then, Jay Brown demands that Charlie ... +


As eight Krites, or “critters,” are transported to maximum security Prison Asteroid-Sector 17, they escape after hijacking a prison ship. The prison warden appoints two bounty hunters to find the critters and execute them. In Kansas, Brad Brown locks himself in the bathroom, and plunges a thermometer under hot water. April Brown, his teenage sister, complains to her mother, Helen, that she is locked out, and then, receives a telephone call from her new boyfriend, Steve Elliot, a transplant from New York City. Brad sits at the kitchen table with the thermometer in his mouth, pretending to be sick. According to Helen, the thermometer reads 106 degrees, but April says that if Brad stays home from school, he will miss his geometry test. She wonders if Brad will have the same poor results as his last test. Brad’s father, Jay Brown, orders him to go to school. At a Kansas police station, Sally, the secretary, informs Sheriff Harv that the drunken Brown farmhand, Charlie McFadden, is sleeping in one of the cells. Once he awakens, Charlie McFadden tells Sheriff Harv that he is getting messages from his dental fillings that Martians are invading Earth. Sheriff Harv tells Charlie to forget about Martians, and go to work. The warden contacts the bounty hunters during their mission to say that the Krites are bound for Earth. To better assimilate, one bounty hunter transforms himself into Johnny Steele, a popular rock musician on Earth. The second bounty hunter waits to disguise his lack of facial features. At the Brown farm, Brad and Charlie McFadden cheer as they successfully explode a toy space ship. Then, Jay Brown demands that Charlie repair the carburetor of his truck, and he forbids Brad to play with fireworks. Steve Elliot gives April a ride home in his fancy sports car, and she invites him to dinner. Charlie aims Brad’s repaired slingshot at a soda can, but hits April instead. Brad grabs his slingshot and his sister chases after him. Jay sends Brad to his room without dinner after he confesses to shooting his sister. After dinner, April drives Steve’s car, then will not return his keys unless he joins her in the barn. As Brad rigs more firework explosives in his room, he sees April and Steve enter the barn. Meanwhile, Jay brings Brad a plate of food prepared by his wife, but confiscates Brad’s slingshot. In the barn, April seduces Steve, who is nervous that her parents will discover them, but April reassures him that they never go to the barn at night. On a dark country road, Charlie sees the Krites’s spaceship in the sky and runs for help. At the Brown farmhouse, Brad perches on the roof, and Jay looks out the window. They both see an unidentified flying object in the sky. When the house shakes, Jay grabs a flashlight and investigates outside. He discovers Brad in a tree, and they search the nearby fields, where the Krites’s spaceship has landed. Jay and Brad stumble upon the charred remains of a cow, and return to the house to get Jay’s gun. During his night patrol, Deputy Jeff Barnes swerves his car off the road to avoid some debris, and drives into a ditch. Soon, he is dragged underneath his patrol car, and killed. The critters approach the Browns’ garbage cans, and scare away Chewy, the family cat. Jay tries to call Sheriff Harv, but discovers the telephone is dead, and power cut. Jay searches the basement, sees the electrical wires are cut, and is attacked by critters. He is wounded but manages to escape. Meanwhile, the bounty hunters discover Deputy Jeff’s stranded patrol car. The second bounty hunter assumes Jeff’s identity, and they drive away in the police cruiser. Back in the hayloft, April and Steve kiss, but soon, a critter attacks and kills Steve. When April defends herself with a pitchfork, the critter bites it in half. April screams, and Brad runs to her aid. He ignites a homemade cherry bomb, which the critter swallows, and dies. Meanwhile, the bounty hunters crash the patrol car into a church, have no luck finding Krites, and begin randomly shooting. As they leave, Jeff the bounty hunter assumes the preacher’s identity. Soon, the Brown family discovers the critters have destroyed their truck, and staked claim to Steve’s car. The Browns retreat to their farmhouse, but when the front door is stuck, Brad climbs a tree, and gains entry through a window. Charlie tries to warn Jake, the bartender at the bowling alley, but is ignored. Soon, the bounty hunters arrive at the bowling alley and announce they are looking for Krites. Soon, Jeff the bounty hunter morphs into Charlie. The two bounty hunters shoot their guns randomly, and clear the bowling alley. Then, a local resident telephones Sheriff Harv at home to warn him about the mayhem. At the Brown farm, as Helen nurses her husband, critters break the windows. Brad pulls a poisonous critter quill from Helen’s neck. Then, Jay, Helen and April retreat upstairs while Brad kills a critter with a ceiling fan. When he runs up the stairs, critters follow. Brad and April create a fire barrier to prevent the critters from advancing. One burning critter jumps into the toilet bowl to extinguish the flame. After Sheriff Harv investigates the church, Sally informs him that witnesses say the preacher, Charlie and a stranger are responsible for the shootings at the bowling alley and a commotion was reported at the Brown farm. Also, Deputy Jeff is still missing. As the Brown family hides in a bedroom, Brad sneaks out a window to ride his bicycle into town for help, but finds a critter standing guard over the bicycle. In the farmhouse, the critters tear furniture apart, eat the fish in the fish tank, and search for more food. Soon, Brad stands in the middle of the road, and forces a patrol car with bounty hunters inside to screech to a halt. They tell Brad they want the Krites. He says he will help them if they help him. Back at the Brown farm, a giant critter breaks the bedroom window, grabs April’s arm, and Jay fends off the creature with a flame-spitting aerosol can. Soon, Brad arrives with the bounty hunters, blasting their way through the home. When Sheriff Harv appears, the Brown family runs toward his car. However, Brad goes inside to rescue Chewy. The bounty hunters let Sheriff Harv know that they can dispose of the critters without his help, and throw him on the lawn. Bounty hunter Johnny Steele rescues Brad from the clutches of a giant critter, while another oversized creature kidnaps April. Brad takes off on his bicycle to rescue his sister, while the patrol car with Sheriff Harv, the bounty hunters, and the Browns follow. During his pursuit, Brad sees the real Charlie, who claims to be receiving all kinds of extraterrestrial messages from his teeth. Next, Brad climbs in the critters’ flying saucer, removes a poison quill from April’s neck, and helps her escape the craft. As critters chase Brad, he leaves behind a large firecracker he is unable to ignite. Outside, Charlie sets fire to a Molotov cocktail, and throws it through the window of the flying saucer. The patrol car arrives, and Brad and April reunite with their parents. As the flying saucer escapes, it shoots a laser beam that destroys the Browns’ farmhouse. However, Brad’s firecracker ignites, and the flying saucer explodes. Brad thanks the bounty hunters for their help and Johnny Steele gives him a communication device to keep in touch. The next day, Sheriff Harv and the Brown family survey their house in ruins. Brad hears a beeping noise coming from the alien electronic device. He pushes a button that causes their house to be rebuilt from all the debris. Then, the bounty hunters’ flying saucer disappears. In the barn, a couple of critter eggs wait to hatch.
+

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.