Joe Bob Briggs here, and tonight,
the movie that answers the question "What's eating the American farmer?"
Man-eating porcupine tumbleweeds with enormous teeth are about to escape
from their outer-space prison and head to Grovers Bend, Kansas, to munch
on the population. I'm talking about, of course, Critters, with the best
inter-galactic monsters since Zsa Zsa Gabor starred in "Queen of Outer
Space" -- and they wear a lot less make-up.
I've been watching a lot of Court
TV lately, and I have a question. Why do people on the witness stand lie
about stuff that doesn't even matter? "Isn't it true, Mr. Mossfelt, that
before you identified this man as the thief, you were complaining that
your contact lenses were dirty?" And all Mr. Mossfelt has to do is say,
"Yeah, they WERE dirty." And then later he can say, "But they weren't THAT
dirty. I could still SEE THE GUY." But instead he says, "I don't recall."
And so the lawyer says, "You don't recall whether your contacts were
dirty, or you don't recall SAYING they were dirty?" And Mr. Mossfelt says,
"I don't think they were dirty." So the lawyer says, "Your testimony today
is that your contacts were not dirty and you did not tell Anthony
Verranzano that they were dirty, is that correct?" And by this time the
jury is going, "What is this guy trying to hide?"
Or you see the same thing when
somebody just plain REMEMBERS IT WRONG. And so he remembers it one way on
May 30 and another way on June 30 and another way on July 30, and the
lawyer says, "Would you say your memory was better today, or three months
ago, right after the event occurred?" And they WON'T ANSWER THIS QUESTION.
They'll say ANYTHING to make the jury think that whatever they remember
TODAY is EXACTLY THE TRUTH. When all they have to say is, "Well, the
details were probly better back three months ago, but the gist of it is
the same." Or they could even say: "You know what? You're right! I did say
something different the first time you asked me. I'll be horsewhipped if I
didn't." Why don't people do this? Somebody gimme an explanation, cause
I'm fresh out.
Anyhoo, the outlaws in "Critters"
have already been tried and convicted, so when they escape, the
outer-space king sends a couple of bounty hunters to blow em away. Let's
do the drive-in totals and get it rolling. We have: Outstanding
slime-spewing. One breast -- scissored out, of course. Two dead bodies.
Four mutilated bodies. Eight dead critters. One motor-vehicle chase, with
two crashes. Three tumbleweed chases. Three gallons blood. Stomach-eating.
Pitchfork-chewing. Gross-out mush-face alien transformation into a Mick
Jagger lookalike. Explicit cow guts, also known as bovine fu.
Garbage-disposal symbolism. Finger rolls. Extra points for gratuitous toy
E.T. eaten by a critter. Gratuitous eighties song called "Power of the
Night." Gratuitous Methodist church destruction. Shotgun fu. Toilet fu.
Aerosol can and a lighted match fu. Four stars. Check it out.
[fading] Dee Wallace Stone gets
visited by rabid aliens. It's the best cross between "E.T." and "Cujo" of
1986. Okay, go.
"CRITTERS" Commercial Break
Great song, "Power of the Night."
And don't worry -- we WILL hear it again. All right, the bounty hunters
are after the critters -- officially known as the Krites -- and all the
way to Earth they watch Empty-V on their monitors, so right before they
get there, one of the bounty hunters turns hisself into a Mick Jagger
lookalike and threatens to do entire scenes from "Let's Spend the Night
Together." Is that about right? Actually, the big-haired bounty hunter is
Terrence Mann -- pretty successful Broadway actor. Played Rum Tum Tugger
in . . . ? "Cats." We all know that. Also did the original cast recordings
for "Beauty and the Beast" and "Les Miserables." And he played assistant
choreographer to Michael Douglas in the movie version of "The Chorus
Line." Making him a natural for the outer-space heavy-metal vigilante of
"Critters." He sings, he dances, he hunts down homicidal aliens with heavy
artillery. Okay, back in a few.
[fading] You think "Power of the
Night" was an attempt to compete with "Power of Love"? Same year, right?
"Power of Love" is part of what made Back to the Future a hit. And
"Power of the Night" is part of what made "Critters" a
sort-of-interesting-cult-movie-phenomenon. I know that, every time EYE
hear "Power of the Night" on the radio, I think "outer-space porcupine
"CRITTERS" Commercial Break
You know what makes these
outer-space aliens truly annoying? They land on BOWLING LEAGUE NIGHT. And,
of course, that's Billy Zane as the dork from New York, makin out with the
horny little family porkchop, Nadine Van Der Velde. Nice ponytail there on
Billy. This was his second flick, after a small part in "Back the Future,"
several years before he plucked his eyebrows and played the mean fiance in
"Titanic." "Critters" is one of those movies that set off a couple of
careers. It was the first thing Stephen Herek wrote and directed, and he's
gone on to be pretty major -- he did "Bill & Ted's Excellent
Adventure," "Mr. Holland's Opus," "Holy Man," and one of our favorites
around here, Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead. Texas boy. Went to UT
to play baseball, didn't make the traveling squad, and so he decided to be
a filmmaker. But to get into the senior filmmaking class, you had to write
a script and do a budget on it, and he didn't make the cut there, either.
So basically he was a big loser, till he graduated and went to Hollywood
and proved em all wrong -- with "Critters!" All right, let's do the ads
and get back to it.
[fading] Actually, Stephen hired a
lot of the same guys who worked on "Android," so I guess that's the flick
that deserves the credit. Both movies are based on the Roger Corman
principle of making low-budget revisions of hit movies. Now Stephen Herek
makes BIG-budget revisions of hit movies, like "101 Dalmatians." He forgot
his drive-in roots. He went hard-top on us. Always a shame when that
"CRITTERS" Commercial Break
Well, Dad escaped, but the deputy
sheriff just got made into pasta carbonara under his squad car. I'm gonna
mention that he's a regular on Star Trek: Voyager, otherwise I'll get
all kinds of letters from the trekkies saying, "Joe Bob, I can't believe
you didn't mention Ethan Phillips, who plays Neelix on 'Voyager'! How
could you miss that?!" The universe has different priorities for trekkies,
have you noticed that? And here's my address, for those who want to tell
me again that it's "trekkers," and not "trekkies": 1010 Techwood Drive,
Atlanta, Georgia, 30318, or e-mail me at joebob@ turner.com. Okay,
commercials, and then back to "Critters."
[fading] By the way, that's Billy
Green Bush as the dad, and it looks like someone forgot to tell him about
the Basement Principle of horror flicks. It's one of the easy ones, too.
Let's see if I can remember the exact words . . . Oh, yeah, "Don't go into
the basement." All right, look for the homage to The Birds coming
"CRITTERS" Commercial Break
So after making the sign of the
twin-pronged alfalfa plow with the slutty farm girl, Billy Zane got
munched into a furry Frito. And then the critter ate one of Brad's
home-made firecracker bombs -- and DIDN'T BLOW UP. But there's a reason
the critter didn't blow up. And that reason is that the special effects
guys -- the Chiodo brothers -- had a limited number of animatronic
critters, and they couldn't afford to trash one of em, in case the other
ones went on the blink. So instead they just had the thing roll over and
belch, or whatever it did. Which is funnier anyway. By the way, who
recognizes Brad, the young hero? Why, it's Scott Grimes from "Party of
Five"! Plays Bailey's best friend, Will McCorkle. Remember, he had a
little thing with Jennifer Love Hewitt before she and Bailey got married?
And remember that time when Bailey and Will went on that roadtrip to
Mexico? How scary is it that I know this stuff? All right, roll the ads
and let's get back to the flick.
[fading] You guys did notice the
"Birds" homage, right? When the family's all in the living room, and the
daughter is crying by the fireplace, and you think the critters are gonna
come down the chimney like the birds did? But then they don't. They played
AGAINST the classic. Either that, or the mechanical critters were all in
the shop that day. One of the two.
"CRITTERS" Commercial Break
Why is M. Emmet Walsh sleeping?
Didn't we just have a scene where Sally the sheriff's office dispatcher
told Charley that Sheriff Harve was at the bowling alley? And then Charley
goes to the bowling alley but he's not there. What's with that? Did Emmet
miss a couple day's shooting or something? Anyway, if there's anything
that makes a Kansas town madder than aliens demolishing the Methodist
church with a stolen cop car, it's shooting up the bowling alley on league
night [Rusty enters] Rusty, you didn't wait for my intro.
RUSTY: I was getting OLD waiting
J.B.: Oh, well, don't let my SHOW
get in your way.
RUSTY: I figured we'd do a Joe
Bob's Jailbreak tonight, since the critters are escaped convicts. Here's a
letter from Larry Rye at Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney
J.B.: Rusty the Mail Girl, taking
initiative. "Dear 'Joe Bob,'
"My name is Larry Rye. My friends call me
Worm. If the truth was to be known, it's Rusty the Mail-Lady I'm really
writing to, she's a knock-out. I sure would like to share that
MonsterVision t-shirt with her. I'd crawl up inside it and -- "
Well, I don't think we're allowed
to say THAT on TNT."By the way 'Joe Bob' there's a couple of
gays!!! I mean guys that really love you, I mean your show. Anyway they
said to tell you HI . . . they wouldn't give me any names but I think one
of them goes by the name of Bubba??? Well, Rusty, I think you and I should
get together someday, that has been my fantasy!!! Now don't get me wrong,
I haven't been down that long. I'm a good looking guy, 36-years-old and I
make a dollar-seventy a day ($1.70). I know you're probably saying (WOW) a
dollar-seventy a day. I know things would be tight at first, but hey if
you were comparing love for money then I guess you could say that I'm a
millionaire then. But if we can't be together Rusty for some reason and
you break my heart, could you at least send me a picture of yourself,
because life without seeing you wouldn't be the same.
"Larry 'the Worm' Rye #283915
"Crowley County Correctional
Facility, Olney Springs, Colorado.
"p.s. Hey 'Joe Bob' Bubba said
good night and to tell you his D.O.C. number is R-U-1-2 in case you'd like
to write him sometime."
J.B.: Preciate the support, Worm.
And that's exactly the kind of approach that normally works with Rusty,
isn't it, Rus?
RUSTY: Oh, yeah.
J.B.: Hang in there, Worm, and
don't cause any more uprisings. Free your mind and your butt will
RUSTY: And tell Bubba Joe Bob says
J.B.: Shut up.
"CRITTERS" Commercial Break
Some EXCELLENT hysterical
screaming by Dee Wallace Stone as the mom. Dee's job in this movie is to
scream hysterically. Okay, we got the "critters have fun" scene out of the
way. If you're gonna do a Gremlins rip-off, you gotta recreate the
"gremlins have fun" scene. And you know that part where one of the
critters suddenly gets really big for no apparent reason? Well, that
surprised the Chiodo brothers, too. They're the special effects guys I
mentioned earlier. They'd already spent their whole budget making all
those little saber-toothed puppets, and were about half-way done shooting
the film, when the producers came to em and said, "Let's make a big one
that jumps out of the closet." And the only thing they could afford to do
was throw something together and edit it "Alien"-style, so you didn't
notice that it was a midget with a shag carpet strapped to his back. Okay,
back in a few.
[fading] I haven't mentioned Lin
Shaye as Sally, the police gal. Sister of Robert Shaye, founder and CEO of
New Line Cinema, who produced this flick. Lin actually looks normal in
this movie. Remember Magda, the leathery old lady in "There's Something
About Mary"? That was Lin Shaye. Lin says she plays so many ugly
characters, she's one of the few actresses who looks better WITHOUT the
make-up. Although she looked pretty dang good in Freddy's New
Nightmare--she was one of the nurses who got sliced-and-diced. Of course,
most women believe that EVERYONE looks better without makeup. "Oh, honey,
you're so pretty, you don't need makeup." What is that, one-half per cent
of the population? Don't start that, ladies. Whose idea was that? Most of
em NEED MAKEUP.
So the critters leave their eggs,
and the Brown family gets their house back through the magic of the cell
phone. An uplifting story, later followed, of course, by "Critters" two
through four. I never did figure out what M. Emmet Walsh was doin in this
flick. Did you notice where it says "Additional scenes written by Don
Opper." Don Opper is the guy who played goofball Charley! Don wasn't
satisfied with the script AS WRITTEN. He was improvising all over the lot,
wasn't he?, for his ART.
All right, I wanna let you know
that next week here on the show: Breeders. Last week it was Embrace Of The Vampire. What can I say -- you guys
didn't want me hosting Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory again, and TNT listened.
That's it for me, Joe Bob Briggs,
reminding you that the fastest animal on earth, with a top speed of 120
feet per second, is a bull moose that's been dropped out of a
A guy goes to a doctor, who tells
him that he has a bad illness and only a year or two to live. So the guy
decides to talk to his pastor. He explains the situation, and asks the
pastor if there's anything he can do.
Pastor says, "What you should do is
go out and buy a late 70s or early 80s model Dodge pickup. Then go get
married to the ugliest woman you can find, and buy yourselves an old
trailer house in the panhandle of Oklahoma."
Guy asks, "Will this help me
Pastor says, "No, but it'll make what time you do have seem
Joe Bob Briggs, reminding you that
the drive-in will never die.
[fading] Little old lady is
walking up and down the halls of her nursing home, flipping the hem of her
nightgown, and saying, "Supersex! Supersex!" She walks up to an old man in
a wheelchair. Flips her gown at him and says, "Supersex!"
Old man looks at her for a minute, then says, "I'll take the soup."
Back to Monstervision
Next week's host segments for Breeders
Critters are available on video and DVD
Host segment transcript of 2/13/00 broadcast ©2000 Turner Network Television. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved
Ellie May, get those critters out of the Empire State Building, they're breeders!