Night of the Creeps Reviews
Right away Night of the Creeps lets you know what kind of movie you're in for. It begins with two aliens with ray-guns on a spaceship chasing after a third alien carrying a cylinder. When the aliens speak, their dialogue is subtitled in both English and, what I assume to be, their alien language. The aliens are so obviously short men in suits and masks that I think that is what director Fred Dekker must have intended since the special effects later in the movie are pretty good. Dekker would go on to direct another cult classic with great effects, The Monster Squad, which is either a terrible or great film depending on what age you were when you first saw it. I think it's great.
The mysterious alien cylinder is shot into space and lands on Earth in 1959. The first scene on Earth is in black and white and looks like a clichéd scene from 1950's teen horror movie. The setting is sorority row and not that far away a boy and girl are in a parked car. From the alien cylinder a wormy slug springs into the mouth of the boy who left his date alone in the car. While an alien parasite worm is jumping into his mouth, an axe wielding escaped mental patient is attacks the girl. After this scene you should definitely know that Night of the Creeps is campy, over the top, self-aware fun. The movie then jumps to 1986 during "Pledge Week." We meet Chris and J.C., two college freshmen. Chris talks J.C. into pledging a fraternity with him because he is desperate to impressive the very pretty Cynthia, who he thinks (for no reason at all) is only interested in frat guys. Cynthia's boyfriend, Brad, is the head of the fraternity and gives them the pledge task of stealing a dead body from the university medical lab. Chris and J.C. accidentally unfreeze the body of the college boy infected with the alien parasite back in the 50's. They freak out and run away. The infected zombie body walks out of the university, but not before attacking a young scientist played by a young David Paymer.
The zombie body walks to the sorority house where its head splits open and releases more parasite slugs. The slugs enter into a body then eat at the brain turning a person into essentially a zombie until their head explodes to spread more slugs. The special effects are great old-school practical effects. Some effects, like the slugs and zombie make-up hold up better than others, like the animatronic zombie dog and cat, which still look pretty cool and scary. The effects do get pretty gross, but they are meant to scare and entertain you, not just shock you and make you feel queasy. Night of the Creeps has fun with its effects too. When a bus driver sees the decaying zombie dog in the road, his eyes bulge out of his head, like a cartoon.
Night of the Creeps is a movie you watch for the fun, gross effects, but there are some good characters to go along with the effects too. Chris and J.C. are supposed to be geeks, but there's nothing much geeky about them other than that they're not jocks. Chris Romero, our main character, is unfortunately blandly average. His only motivation is to impress the pretty girl because she is pretty. The characters around him, however, are pretty interesting and entertaining. His goofy friend J.C. (James Carpenter) Hooper, is more socially adept and aware and is, overall, a more well-rounded character. The character that steals the movie is the hardened, self-destructive Detective Cameron played by Tom Atkins. He walks into a crime scene and says "thrill me" and constantly refers to Chris and J.C. as Spanky and Alfalfa. When he shoots one zombie in the head he says, "It's Miller time." It doesn't make any sense but it's great. My favorite scene with him is when he tells Chris a haunting story of revenge from his past. It's a serious and intense speech in the middle a campy movie and an awkward moment for Chris. Somehow, this character isn't laughable but is still fun and fits right in with the rest of the movie.
My favorite character is Cynthia Cronenberg, the object of everyone's affections, played by Jill Whitlow. To say that the female roles in 80's comedies, especially 80's teen comedies, are lacking in substance would be a gross understatement. Cynthia, however, is not a trophy or a doll. She's not impressed with Chris at first since he sent J.C. to talk to her for him. She puts together that the attacks happening around the college are related to the missing body from the medical lab and has to convince Chris and J.C., who are skeptical. At the climax, when a busload of slug infested zombie frat guys descend upon the sorority house, she fights them off along with Chris and Detective Cameron to protect the rest of the sorority. Shooting the zombies stops them, but then the slugs inside just explode out and scatter. The only thing that kills the slugs is fire, so Detective Cameron gets a flamethrower from the police armory (because of course they have a flamethrower). It's Cynthia who uses that flame thrower while wearing her formal gown to kill off the alien slugs, and she is as badass as she sounds.
This movie is as much a tribute to the whole horror genre as it is a send up of 50's sci-fi/horror movies. If the characters last names sound familiar it is because many characters are named after horror and science fiction directors like: David Cronenberg (Shivers), James Cameron (Piranha II, Terminator), Sean S. Cunningham (Friday the 13th), Steve Miner (Friday the 13th Part II and III), Sam Raimi (Evil Dead), John Carpenter (Halloween), Tobe Hooper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre), John Landis (An American Werewolf in London), and George Romero (Night of the Living Dead). The characters all attend Corman University, named after legendary producer Roger Corman, who made many, many campy films. When the sorority house mother is attacked she is watching Plan 9 from Outer Space on TV, perhaps the campiest film ever made by the man once voted worst director of all time, Ed Wood.
Night of the Creeps was a flop when it was released in theaters but has since gone on to build a cult following. I can understand why. This movie has everything: horror, comedy, aliens, sorority girls, awesome horror effects, zombie jocks, a zombie cat, a zombie David Paymer, scenes in black and white, a scene with Dick Miller (who appears in several 80's horror movies), a suicidal cop on edge, a montage of college kids getting ready for a dance, and, best of all, a badass sorority girl with a flamethrower. Night of the Creeps is lots of fun and even a little scary. It's a perfect movie for horror movie fans, people that like campy movies, and people that just want to have a spooky good time.
"I finally got around to re-watching the bootleg I'd purchased, and this film was as much fun as ever. A perfect way to kick off my Halloween day viewing for this year, this set a fun and light-hearted tone for the day."
A great 80's horror classic well worth tracking down, and I've even splurged on the Blu-ray at this point, which is awesome.