In 1984, Gremlins brought horror and comedy but also introduced a new genre of films centered around terrifying little creatures. These diminutive terrors left a lasting impact, inspiring a wave of movies that followed suit. Meet these pint-sized terrors from the silver screen, proving that size isn’t everything, especially in the realm of being both funny and terrifying!
Kicking things off is perhaps the grandaddy of B-movie Gremlins rip-off featuring little creatures. The Puppet Master series by Charles Band remains absurd but impressive with its cast of demented puppets. Summoned by magic, Jester, Blade, Pinhead, and Leech-Woman lead an ever-expanding cast of tiny terrors.
The original 1989 film spawned countless sequels, crossovers, and spin-offs. Despite their small size, these mischievous creatures wreak havoc with fierce ability. This movie series scores bonus points for using mostly practical puppet effects like the ones favored in Gremlins.
Next up is the Little Creature franchise most often compared to Gremlins. Of course, we’re talking about the infamous Ghoulies flicks. This hastily produced, low-budget film from 1984 tried to capitalize on the popularity of Gremlins by emulating its distinctive blend of humor and horror. The first installment falls short, essentially being a barebones slasher film that just happens to occasionally feature puppets (who are demons summoned to exact revenge).
The first Ghoulies was only really made famous due to its video art, featuring the fish ghoulie popping up out of a toilet. Sadly, this led to millions of monster kids being disappointed when the scene in question never actually happens in the film.
The Ghoulies managed to spawn two more sequels, including the third installment, where they (of course) go to college. The B-movie series is beloved to this day, with new merchandise and toys popping up every year.
‘Critters’, Another Little Creature Franchise Compared to ‘Gremlins’
Critters, released in 1986, is another little creature flick often compared to Gremlins. The franchise likely owes some of its success to Gremlins whetting audiences’ appetite for comedic creature features. However, the filmmakers claim changes were made to the script to make it distinct from Joe Dante’s 1984 film. The critters are space aliens, for one thing. They also don’t care so much for candy and cookies and gremlins. They prefer flesh… including that of humans.
The Critters originate from an asteroid that crash-lands on Earth, chased by a duo of space bounty hunters. With their razor-sharp fangs, insatiable appetites, and a movie series spanning five films, the Critters voraciously devour anything and everything in their path. Though they may seem kind of cute at first glance, as the Brown family soon discovers, these creatures have some serious bite.
Critters spawned several sequels, including 2019’s Critters Attack. Meanwhile, Critters 3 boasts the screen debut of none other than Leonardo DiCaprio.
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