Cast:Jason Lively, Steve Marshall, Jill Whitlow, Tom Atkins, Wally Taylor, Bruce Solomon, Vic Polizos, Allan Kayser, Ken Heron, Alice Cadogan, June Harris, David Paymer
Flipping through channels when I was younger, there are many of horror movies that I saw bits and pieces of on TV while gorging my then fat face with Doritos. Night of the Creeps has the distinction of being the movie that I thought was three different movies. There's the opening that I would catch that featured a cute little chode looking alien running around a spaceship, which then cuts to a serial killer escaped from a mental institution (that's shot in black and white none the less). Then there was the parts featuring a bunch of slugs crawling around. And finally there's the third act that turns into a balls out zombie movie. It wasn't until I finally saw the film in its entirety that I realized that these scenes all compromised one movie. I think it goes without saying that Creeps took a similar route that Prom Night 2 did in successfully combining genres. Plus it stars 80s horror staple Tom Atkins...so clearly it effing rocked my face.
As I mentioned before, the movie opens up with the little chode being chased on what looks like the set of MST3K with a tube that he ships off to earth. The tube lands near a college in 1959 America. The opening plays out like a slasher film, but shifts gears when one of the characters discovers the chode tube and slug shoots out of it into his mouth. We cut to the glorious decade of bad fashion and embarrassing haircuts known as the glorious 80s. It's here that we meet Chris and his Tiny Tim best friend named J.C. who, while pulling a frat prank, breaks into a science lab to steal the cryogenetically frozen body of the kid who got the slug in his mouth in the opening. The corps goes out and about with the slug is still inside the body and when it's spit out into other people's mouth it turns them into the living dead. 80s awesome-ness ensues and Tom Atkins shows up to, along with the hottie that Chris wants to smash out, kick some zombie ass. And there's a flame thrower! So basically Creeps is like Slither's big brother.
Writer/Director Fred Dekker is also the man responsible for the much loved The Monster Squad (and the much despised Robocop 3 for that matter). It's evident that when he made this movie, he was a fanboy at heart. There's many different horror sub-genres that he likes to pay homage to and his characters are even named after well known horror directors, something also later used by Final Destination. One of two things can happen when you have a fanboy behind the camera. The movie will either be a rip-off of every movie they've ever seen with nothing original to say (see any independent SOV movie made for a couple thousand dollars). Or it will be its own movie that mixes its originality with traces of (sometimes blatant) nods for devoted fans to pick up on (see Cabin Fever). Luckily, Night of the Creeps falls into the latter category. Dekker made a horror movie for horror fans, elevated by a strong script that boasts the same quick witted dialogue that littered Monster Squad. Who could forget Atkins' infamous line of "The good news is your dates are here. The bad news is they're dead." And you'd be hard pressed finding someone who doesn't love the Asian janitor giggling to himself about "Banshees!"
One flaw that I did find was that the characters were the definition of clichéd. The cute girl next door, the asshole jock, the nerdy best friend, the pussy nice guy who turns into the hero, and the tough cop. Although with semi-capable actors for the most part and tongue firmly planted in cheek throughout the running time, you'll be able to cut the movie some slack. And to tell you the truth, at this point, it's almost impossible not to create a character that people would call clichéd. And in my book, Tom Atkins can do no wrong as he infuses his performance with a sadistic edge.
Made by a horror fan for horror fans, Night of the Creeps is a fun, scary, and most importantly, entertaining mid-80s horror movie that is in desperate need of a DVD release before it disappears into obscurity. If you've never seen it, I suggest tracking down an old VHS or watch it streaming online, as it's worth the effort.
|Posted on July 6, 2009 - 6:05am | Johnny D|