When Gremlins was released in 1984, the horror-comedy and its tiny, cute-gross creatures launched an entire genre of films about tiny terrors. Here are eight other menacing, miniature monsters from the movies that prove size isn't everything, especially when it comes to murdering you.
This cheap, quick rip-off of Gremlins was hastily made in 1984 after the success of Gremlins, following the original's mix of humor and horror. Of course, Ghoulies didn't really achieve either, but at least it recognized what worked for Gremlins. In this movie, a group of awful '80s characters summon a variety of tiny demon puppets, ranging from a tiny troll to a rat-thing to a much creepier clown who's head is torn part from the inside by some sort of lizard creature. Unfortunately, these guys are more interested in mild harassment than outright murder, and as for the humor, it begins and ends with its infamous scene of a Ghoulie rising from the toilet — an image made solely for the film's poster, but which proved so much more interesting than the actual movie they actually shot a scene based on the poster, which was later added to the film. Ghoulies did manage to inspire three sequels, which is two more than Gremlins had.
Critters also came out two years after Gremlins, but director Stephen Herek swears the Critters script was written before Gremlins went into production, and that Critters actually had rewrites to make it less like Gremlins after that movie's success. Either way, Critters — whose alien name is actually Krites — differ from Gremlins in several ways: first of all, they're from space. Second, they have intergalactic bounty hunters chasing after them. Third, while Gremlins are happy to kill people through mischief, Critters will outright eat people alive. Leonardo di Caprio appeared in Critters 3, which is something more people should bring up in interviews with him.
When legendary producer Roger Corman jumps on a movie trend, you know quality is no issue — because he never cares about quality. Seriously, watch the trailer above for the 1987 flick and just try not to be filled with rage and disgust. Despite the title, the Munchies start out as a single Munchie found in an archeological site, but comes back to life to be a cuddly, more Mowlgi-type creature. That is, until he's kidnapped by the evil Harvey Korman and cut in four, and his pieces become four meaner Munchies, who also immediately develop smoking habits and alcohol addiction. Also, according to the movie poster, they have a fondness for human vaginas. Although ostensibly it tries to be funnier than Gremlins, its attempts to be funny are completely terrifying.
Troll 2 may be the shitty Troll movie that gets all the attention, but that doesn't mean the first Troll movie is particularly good. It is pretty insane, as a troll takes over the body of a little girl, starts turning an apartment building into a faerie forest full of creatures and monsters, and attacking people by turning them into mythical creatures and/or punching them in the balls. There's some kind of a plot about an ancient faerie war and an evil wizard who was cursed and a witch who lives in the apartment upstairs, and then there's a bat monster and Sonny Bono is there for reason… it actually seems like it could be a solid family fantasy if it hadn't ended up so damn weird. Please note that Troll 2 has nothing to do with the first Troll movie.
5) The Goblins of Troll 2
Here's how little 1990's Troll 2 has to do with Troll 1: There are no trolls in it. Seriously. The bad guys are vegetarian goblins, who live in Nilbog, who have a penchant for turning humans into vegetables so they can eat them (which seems to be missing the point of one of vegetarianism's main tenets, but whatever). The movie was actually supposed to be called Goblins, but apparently the producers renamed it Troll 2 in hopes of riding the coattails of the first film's success, even though it didn't have any. The film has become legendary for its badness, especially as chronicled in the documentary about the film's making, Best Worst Movie. I'm not sure that title is totally accurate, but good lord the film is not good.
6) The Demons of The Gate
Although a kids' horror movie, 1987's The Gate does feature a gate to hell and demons that look genuinely demonic, even if they're kind of on the smallish side. Plus, The Gate's demons are messed up. From Wikipedia: "That night, Glen sees his bedroom wall stretching, and Terry embraces a heavenly apparition of his dead mother, which turns out to be the body of Angus, Glen's recently deceased dog." Holy shit. The demons also put the dead dog in Glen's bed later, so they're really obsessed with maximizing the use of this dog carcass. Not many kids movies have the balls to make a dead dog a major plot point, let alone have kids trying to stop evil elder gods from breaking through to our reality.
Although the titular Hobgoblins are demon aliens who make people hallucinate their wildest fantasies before murdering them, the true monsters of this 1988 movie are the human characters, all of whom are loathsome and awful, whether as people or characters. There's really nothing I can say about this movie that Mystery Science Theater 3000, which includes it among the very worst movies it ever riffed, said better.
8) The Troll from Cat's Eye
While most of the creatures on this list are evil and destructive to some degree, only the troll in the third section of the 1985 horror anthology movie Cat's Eye has the wherewithal to try and murder people secretly. While Critters are eating people and the Gate demons are throwing dead dogs around, this troll is breaking into little Drew Barrymore's bedroom at night, tryng to steal her breath/life essence and kill her, and plans to blame it on the family cat. When the dumb family takes the cat, General, to be euthanized at the local shelter, General breaks out of his prison, runs home to his ungrateful family, breaks into the house and engages in an epic battle with the murderous troll to save Drew's life, and kills it by tossing it into a fan and basically shredding it. Thank god cats are more interested in killing trolls than humans… for now.