Monstervision Host Segments for

Critters (1986)



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 #1

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 hunters." Immediate.

"CRITTERS" Commercial Break #2

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 happens.

"CRITTERS" Commercial Break #3

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@ 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 up.

"CRITTERS" Commercial Break #4

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 #5

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 back there.

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 Springs, Colorado.

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.
"Your friend always,
"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 follow.

RUSTY: And tell Bubba Joe Bob says hi.

J.B.: Shut up.

"CRITTERS" Commercial Break #6

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 helicopter.

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 live longer?"
Pastor says, "No, but it'll make what time you do have seem like forever."

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."

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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!