The cast and crew of Warner Home Video’sCritters Attack!came to San Diego Comic-Con today as part of a “Horror Times Two” block withThe Banana Splits Movie. Before their panel, cast members Dee Wallace (E.T., Cujo, The Howling)and Tashiana Washington (Shaft),director Bobby Miller,Critters voice artist Steve Blum, andCritterspuppeteer Keith Arbuthnot all came to discuss the project, the Critters legacy, and why practical special effects help keep this franchise running.
The firstCrittersfilm was released back in 1986. It spawned many sequels and well as a television series currently streaming on the Shudder streaming service.Critters Attack!marks Dee Wallace’s return to the series. “I thought it would be fun to revisit it,” she said. “I read the script and I thought it would be a nice new take on it. I got to be a real badass. I’m a bounty hunter and I get to take all of them out. It just felt right. Then when I found out we were filming in Capetown, South Africa–I was really in. This is the era of reboots.”
Miller said that “in these divided times, we need to see little puppets devour humans,” adding that he doesn’t think people want to see CGI Critters. “I think the whole charm of the franchise is that they’re puppets.” Miller said he is not a fan of CGI in general. “I hate it. There’s an attitude out there (in the world of filmmaking) that we’ll just figure everything out in post-production. The nuts and bolts of filmmaking is gone. But with puppets, it forces you to build sequences. I think there is a sense of wonder and awe with practical effects and there is so much CGI-sameness that you’re just kind of over it–you know it’s all computers,”
Miller noted that when the Critters are in “ball mode” and running, the effects are easier. “They are just basketballs with fur. It’s when they are walking around is when we have to get creative. How do we show movement without showing movement. Walking Critters. That was the challenge.”
Arbuthnot says that the look of the characters help influence how they act and how they sound. Blum agreed, “That made it easy. It gave me a nice template to work with and I just filled in the holes.”
Arbuthnot noted that puppeteering has changed over the years. “It’s gotten over-complicated, and then it’s gotten simple again. You get this overly-designed or overbuilt thing, and the puppet guys ask where do I put my hands? A lot of times, simpler is better. We keep proving it time and time again.”
“Critters Attack!” lands on earth on July 23, 2019, from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital for $24.98 / $19.98 / $19.99 SRP.