critters the new binge

Warner Brothers Digital’s Blue Ribbon Content announced a web series based on the horror-comedy Critters film franchise. Jordan Rubin will write and direct Critters: The New Binge for the digital platform that also has Daphne & Velma, Good Girls Get High, Golden Revenge and animated shows Vixen, The Ray and Constantine. 1986’s Critters was New Line Cinema’s answer to Gremlins, following a group of alien fur balls as they terrorized a family with their poison porcupine darts. Critters 2: The Main Course opened in 1988, but Critters 3 and 4 went straight to video.

Rubin spoke with /Film after Blue Ribbon Content’s presentation to the Television Critics Association. A writer on The Man Show and The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, Rubin co-wrote and directed the horror comedy Zombeavers in 2014. He’s just turned in the script for Critters: The New Binge, so hopefully, we’ll interview him again when the series drops online.

Is Critters: The New Binge a new origin story?

I wouldn’t say it’s an origin story because the Critters already exist in the world. They’re returning to Earth because they left one of their offspring behind that they’re trying to find. They’re being chased by the bounty hunters. So it’s a new binge, but it’s not an origin story per se like Batman Begins where you’re seeing from the ground up. This is a world that already exists that we’re joining.

So fans might see things they know?

Things and references they’ll be able to chomp onto. Is that a horrible joke?

I like it! Did they leave one of the eggs during one of the previous movies, or something we haven’t seen yet?

It’s sort of a surprise and a reveal. Let’s just say there was an impregnation that happened. There was a seed that was left behind and now that maybe has come to fruition, so they need to find it because they think it will help them maybe take over the galaxy.

Are there two new bounty hunters? 

Yeah, the bounty hunters are always shape shifters, this nebulous face which can become different things. But yeah, two new bounty hunters coming to Earth in their same Terminator type walk and taking on different forms as they encounter them.

So is it still Ug and Lee with new faces of the new actors playing them?

I’d say it’s two new guys. I think they’re maybe retired at this point.

Does one of them still have trouble finding a face that fits?

I love that angle in the first film. There’s elements of that. We’re definitely having some fun with what faces they find, but try to reinvent a different angle on the joke maybe. It’s not like it’s the same dynamic of, “Oh, I can’t a face.” “Pick someone, just choose someone.” It’s a new take.

Are the straight-to-video Critters 3 and 4 still canon?

It’s sort of its own story. Well, [Leonardo] DiCaprio would be nice to show up in it but I’d say it’s more off of the first one. I felt like the later films started to have more fun and get a little more silly campy in a good way, but I like the darkness of the first one to me. It felt more like it went for it. I know people that still watch it and get scared by it. I don’t get scared by that kind of thing. I’m laughing.

How long is each episode?

Probably about 10 minutes roughly. It’ll be about eight episodes, averaging about 10 minutes in length.

Does it form a full feature movie?

Yeah, and I’m very much approaching it having come from the feature world, shooting it like a feature in the set amount of days and shooting as if I’m shooting a feature. I think it’ll easily translate if they decide to go that way.

Do you have the freedom of an R-rated movie to have language and violence?

It seems at this point like we do. TBD. We’re getting final script approval, but I think the original Critters was PG-13. It seems like we have the freedom to do that. I remember a conversation early on where they’re not looking to reign in too hard, maybe because it’s the digital space. I’m not sure.

Who are the human protagonists?

There’s a kid that’s in high school and it revolves around a high school world and a family. It’s a little bit more modern and a little bit more dysfunctional than the first Critters, but it’s that kind of typical American family you would see in an early ‘80s horror film, but with more of a modern bent and a little more dysfunction.

Where is this high school and town the Critters land in?

The Critters land in Burbank, California. The bounty hunters have a little issue with their ship and end up landing in another continent.

Is there any room for Don Opper, who I think remained a bounty hunter in space?

Not in the current version. It’s just two new guys, but there may be a sleeper cell bounty hunter. Who knows?

Is it still the Chiodo Brothers doing the puppets?

We spoke to them and I’m trying to make that work. I think that would be amazing. It’s all a matter of budget and if it can work out with their schedule and where we shoot. If we shoot in Canada… I’m trying to make that work because I met with them and they were great, but we’re speaking to a couple different puppet houses.

Was Zombeavers good practice for Critters?

Yeah, I think 100%. I think a big part of it was getting a handle on being prepared because you often have one or two fully animatronic creatures. Then you have puppets as the backups and secondary. Just in terms of budget you have one or two fully articulating. So you have to plan your schedule very tightly if you want scares and if you want reality. On Zombeavers, often I would be running out of time and I’d want to make the day and get all my shots. So if it was going to be 30 minutes to prepare an animatronic beaver, I would go with a puppet but that would affect the look in the edit. So I ended up picking up some reshoots, so I want to use animatronics as much as possible.

Do you have a release date you’re aiming for for Critters: The New Binge?

We don’t. We’re aiming to shoot in the next couple months and then go quickly into post, so hopefully soon.

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