The 80’s were certainly known for their cheesy but fun horror movies, mostly done with practical effects. Among them was the trinity of small monsters, Gremlins, Critters, and Ghoulies, all of which may or may not have been created to sell toys in some capacity.
But the movies remain a good piece of fun from that decade. So to honor one such franchise, Critters, which has just turned 35 years old, we thought it would be fun to look at 35 fun facts about it!
1. Director/Screenwriter Stephen Herek initially got the idea for Critters from a nightmare he had as a kid.
2. Screenwriters Stephen Herek and Domonic Muir initially met and bonded when they were assistant editors on City Slickers. They got to talking, and thus Critters was born.
3. The physical design of the Critters was loosely inspired by the Tasmanian Devil from Looney Tunes.
4. Directorial debut of Stephen Herek. He would go on to direct Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, The Mighty Ducks, Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, and the live action 101 Dalmatians with Glenn Close.
5. Theatrical movie debut of Scott Grimes. He was only 14 during production, and while he had appeared in a few projects already, they were all made for TV.
6. The Critters’ strange language was designed by Corey Burton (who also did their voice) as a mix of French and Japanese.
7. There’s a poster of T. visible in the background of the house, which is pretty meta considering Dee Wallace played the mom in that movie as well.
8. The laser blast sound effect from the Critters’ ship is the same sound as the AT-AT walkers from Empire Strikes Back.
9. For Billy Zane, it was only his second movie role, following his appearance as “Match”, one of the Biff’s friends in Back to the Future.
10. Terrence Mann actually recorded the song “Power of the Night” as the fictional rock star Johnny Steele (not to be confused with Jonny Steele, a real life soccer player from North Ireland).
11. Lin Shaye (sister of New Line head Bob Shaye) pops up in a small role as Sally. She previously appeared as Nancy’s teacher in A Nightmare on Elm Street, and would become very famous for the Insidious
12. Many were quick to compare Critters to Gremlins, some even saying that it a shameless knock off. However, by the time Gremlins was even announced by Warner Brothers, the script for Critters had already been purchased by New Line Cinema.
13. Despite this however, the movie went through many rewrites during production to avoid making it too close to Gremlins.
14. Critters was considered a moderate box office success, grossing $13.2 million on a $3 million budget.
15. David Twohey got his first writing credit on Critters 2. He would go on to create the Riddick franchise with Vin Diesel.
16. After his success with writing on Amazing Stories, Steven Spielberg reached out to Mick Garris to directed Critters 2. It was his directorial debut as well.
17. Roger Ebert considered Critters 2 to be one of his most hated movies of that year. This was after he and Gene Siskel both gave the first movie two thumbs up.
18. Several of the movies feature “No critters were harmed in the making of this picture” in the end credits.
19. Critters 2 would be the last movie of the franchise to be released in theaters. The rest were direct to video.
20. It was also the only movie in the series to be nominated for a Saturn Award (Best Makeup).
21. Leonardo DiCaprio made his theatrical movie debut with Critters 3. Prior to that, he had appeared in various TV shows.
22. The role of Josh, which DiCaprio played was originally turned down by Cary Elwes of Princess Bride and Saw.
23. Critters 3 and Critters 4 were shot back to back and released only 10 months apart.
24. The character of Charlie McFadden (Don Keith Opper) began as a side character, but grew to top billing by Critters 4.
25. Until Critters 4, Don Keith Opper and Terrence Mann (Ug) were the only actors to appear in every movie. With the reboot and TV series, there is now no actor that does (except for the Crites themselves).
26. Several of the movies feature background props related to Freddy Krueger, since New Line produced that franchise as well.
27. Brad Dourif, famous for playing another tiny killer Chucky, appeared in Critters 4.
28. The first 4 movies finally got a bluray release in 2018 with The Critters Collection.
29. The franchise remained dormant for 27 years until 2019, when both a reboot and TV show were released.
30. The reboot, Critters Attack! saw the return of Dee Wallace, although her character’s name was changed slightly to avoid a legal dispute with New Line and Warner Brothers.
31. Critters Attack! remains the only movie in the series to get an “R” rating.
32. The movie was mostly shot in secret in South Africa, only being announced to the public when the trailer was released online.
33. Unfortunately, it was pretty poorly received by both audiences and critics.
34. Critters: A New Binge was initially shot as a feature length movie, however it was then broken up into 8 mini-episodes.
35. Its writer/director Jordan Rubin became famous for being a writer on Comedy Central’s Crank Yankers.
Which of these did you already know? Which ones surprised you? Let us know in the comments!