In the summer of ’85 I served as unit publicist on Stephen Herek‘s Critters (4.11.86), a New Line sci-fi horror-comedy. It was a reasonably decent effort as far as tongue-in-check horror spoofs went, but nothing to actually write home about. My credit is at the very, very bottom of the cast and crew list — the very last guy.
I managed to persuade two or three journalists to come out and write stories. And I wrote the press kit, of course.
Critters was primarily filmed in a hilly, grassy area of Valencia, two or three miles southwest of Magic Mountain. A movie-set farmhouse and a barn had been built there.
Every couple of days I would drive out to the set and shoot the shit with the crew and buddy up with the cast. I was especially friendly with costars M. Emmet Walsh and Billy Greenbush. Greenbush reminded me of my paternal grandfather — the vibe between us was settled and relaxed. Weeks later Walsh hired me to engineer his campaign for Best Supporting Actor for Blood Simple. He wound up winning a Best Supporting Actor trophy from the Spirit Awards.
I remember the night that the main farmhouse was blown to smithereens. It was supposed to happen around 10 or 11 pm, but technical issues intruded. Then it was supposed to be midnight. And then 1 am. It finally happened just before dawn. Everyone who wanted to see it stayed up the whole damn night. I drove home with the morning rush-hour traffic.
Critters cost $3 million to make and earned $13,167,232 — a hit. There were four Critters films in all. 16 year-old Leonardo DiCaprio made his film debut in Critters 3 (’91), directed by Kristine Peterson.