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Critters is a film series featuring a group of deadly little furry aliens with several rows of teeth known as "Crites". The first film, directed by Stephen Herek, was released in 1986. In it, the title creatures terrorize a farm, with a pair of alien bounty hunters on their trail. It Starred a young Scott Grimes; also starring: Dee Wallace-Stone, M. Emmet Walsh, Ethan Phillips, Billy Zane, Don Keith Opper, and Terrance Mann. The latter two would appear in all of the films.
The second film was released in 1988, featuring the return of Scott Grimes as Bradley Brown (the main character from the first film). The terror starts when the creature's eggs are mistaken for Easter eggs; they quickly multiply after they hatch.
The third film, starring Leonardo DiCaprio in his film debut, begins when a family who has recently lost their mother move into an apartment, followed by the title creatures after hitching a ride in their truck.
The final film takes place many years later in space, where they try to wipe out the remaining species of Crites.
The series is often compared to the Gremlins series despite the script for the film having been before the film was released.
This film series provides examples of the following tropes:
- AI Is a Crapshoot: The computer system on board the fourth film's space base is shit.
- Ascended Fanboy: The first film ends with village idiot Charlie following the alien bounty hunters as they prepare to leave. By the second film he has become a bounty hunter himself.
- Asshole Victim: Any humans killed by the bounty hunters.
- Not to mention the landlord and the Janitor in Critters 3.
- Badass Grandma: Ms. Mendes in Critters 3, even if she only gets to show it once.
Mrs. Mendes: How about a meat cleaver, dear?
- holds up gigantic meat cleaver*
- Billing Displacement: As with ET the Extraterrestrial, Dee Wallace-Stone (the mom) gets top-billing in the first film.
- The Blank: Ugg and Lee's default forms are white faces that lack features.
- Bounty Hunter: Space bounty hunters are despatched to kill the Crites in the original film, and feature to some extent in all the sequels.
- The Can Kicked Him: In the original a Krite gets stuck in the toilet, which is then blown up.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Charlie throughout the four films is shown to be pretty idiotic, naive, awkward, goofy, and sometimes doesn't think things through. Yet he demonstrates good aim at times (blows up several Crits in the third movie), bravery (end of the second film), willpower (end of the fourth film), adaption of future tech minutes after unfreezing (figured out how to fire a laser gun but his aim was a little off), and improvising when it counts (1st film).
- Darker and Edgier: The first two had their grim moments but weren't so bad, there were no super terrifying deaths, the second was a bit darker with Lee's death. The third one was a bit lighter once we got past the jerk ass landlord's very gory death. The fourth is the darkest with the highest amount of the cast dying and Ug becoming an asshole and getting killed by Charlie.
- Destructive Savior: The bounty hunters in the first film
- Earth Is a Battlefield: The bounty hunters and Critters in the first film don't really care about the destruction they cause on an Insignificant Little Blue Planet.
- Face Heel Turn: At some point in the years between films three and four, formerly heroic Badass Ug becomes a corporate asshole.
- Fingore: In the original April's boyfriend Steve (Billy Zane) gets his fingers on his right hand bitten off by one of the crites as he reaches to change the radio station.
- Fun with Subtitles: "Critterese" gets translated into English this way.
- Giant Mook/King Mook: A larger Crite appears in each of the first two films. Though, the one in the second movie turned out to be Ug in disguise.
- Groin Attack: The unfortunate Easter bunny in Critters 2.
- Heroic BSOD: Ug completely loses it when his partner is killed in Critters 2.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Corey Burton is the voices of the crites, some of which sound quite similar to Zipper the fly from Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers.
- Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Second film happens at Easter.
- Human Popsicle: Charlie and a few Crite eggs get cryogenically frozen at the end of the third film, setting up the events of part 4.
- Magic Countdown: Subverted, because the ship's AI is too stupid to realize that talking is not a free action.
- Nightmare Fuel: See Stripped to the Bone below for Critters 2. Though some "meat" is still left ... just enough for the red skeleton to twitch. Sheesh ...
- Oh Crap: Quite a few, but the father's reaction in the first film when one of the Crites' poison spines slams into the wood an inch from his eyes is probably the strongest example.
- Old Shame: Leonardo Di Caprio debuts in Critters 3. Bet he leaves that one off his résumé.
- Power-Up Food: In the first film the Crites get progressively bigger the more they eat. One of them is roughly the size of an adult human by the conclusion. This is largely abandoned in the later films, particularly the third and fourth.
- Precision F-Strike: Uttered by a Krite (its subtitled) in the original.
- Recycled in Space: Though the Crites are canonically aliens, the first movies take place mostly on Earth. The fourth film shifts things to a sci-fi setting, and Alien and Star Wars rip-offs abound. It's even called Critters 4: Critters in Space.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Not so much.
- Sequel Escalation: After a handful of Crites terrorize a farmhouse and the surrounding area in the first film, their far more numerous offspring take on the entire neighbouring town in part 2.
- Shapeshifter Default Form: The bounty hunters start as Type A blank faces. Through the sequels Ug is Type B, allowing Terrance Mann to continue playing him.
- Stock Footage: The exterior shots in Critters 4 are cobbled together from a variety of sci-fi films.
- Stripped to the Bone: A victim of the Krite Ball in Critters 2. This rare example shows the bones in a small amount of bloody "meat"]].
- Sudden Sequel Heel Syndrome: Ug in the fourth movie.
- Talking Is a Free Action: Played for Laughs and Averted in the fourth film's climax.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: The bounty hunters can change their appearance to blend in on alien planets. The rules of how it works seem to vary between the first and second films.