Critters

Gremlins rip-offs amount to a whole subgenre, but this one is brisk and imaginative, covering the low-budget limitations on special effects with a two-level screenplay that keeps the action moving. A spaceship full of fuzzy little monsters lands near a midwestern farm and proceeds to terrorize the shaky nuclear family (impotent dad, frustrated mom, sexually active sis, and misunderstood little brother) that lives there; meanwhile, two intergalactic bounty hunters set on the critters' trail storm through a nearby town, where their ability to change their appearance at will and uncertain grasp of earthly conventions create a chain of comic disasters. Director Stephen Herek deploys Spielberg's psychological themes a bit too heavily (the embattled family will be saved by rallying around the innocent child), but the film preserves a pleasantly casual, anarchic spirit. With Dee Wallace Stone, M. Emmet Walsh, Don Opper, and Billy Green Bush.

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