Thursday, October 8, 2015

MR Night of the Creeps

Movie: Night of the Creeps
Directed by Fred Dekker
Release date 1986 
Genre Science-fiction/Horror comedy film
Country USA

When I heard the announcement Shane Black and his writting partner Fred Dekker would held the upcoming Predator film, I was really happy to hear that. Not because Black also starred in the original, but because we would have the duo behind the fantastic Monster Squad in full control of the fourth Predator film! But right before Monster Squad, Fred Dekker became a well-renowed film director with the success of Night of the Creeps.

If there's an "alternate" film genre that really flourished in the 1980s, outside the golden gates of Hollywood, it's the horror comedy genre. Not entirely horror films. Not exactly your traditional comedies. But an actual genre on its own.

When you think about the genre, the first big names that come to mind are probably the Evil Dead series, Peter Jackson's Braindead/Dead Alive, Re-Animator, Return of the Living Dead or even Gremlins. Often overlooked for these others, Night of the Creeps is just as good and memorable as those and has nothing to shy away from these other cult hit films.

Our story begins board some kind of spaceship. Yep, you read that right.

Two aliens (giant-headed creepy baby things) seem to be in pursuit of a third one. It's trying to run off with some sort of experiment. They round him up, but not before he has the time to shoot this capsule into space... where it heads into Earth!

In a parking spot, two college kids are trying to enjoy some good time when they witness a "falling star". The canister from the intro actually crashes on this escaped ace-wielding criminally insane killer! The canister opens to reveal some kind of slugs in it! They enter the mouth of our killer..

We pick up 27 years later.

Our main protagonists are Chris Romero and J.C., who happens to be disabled. They are students at Corman University. Chris has a crush on this girl Cynthia Cronenberg (you might start to notice a pattern in the names, more on that below!). Chris decides to join the local fraternity to get a chance to get closer to Cynthia, who's dating this frat guy. They have them steal a cadaver from the nearby morgue as a test. They find the science labs wing of the University campus and find some weird frozen corpse in a tube.

The next day Detective Ray Cameron is called to investigate a break in at the school. There's a missing body from one of these alien experiment from the 1950s.

The corpse is actually walking on its own. Its head splits open only to shoot more slugs. Soon there's an entire infestation on the campus! Cynthia believes its zombies like in the movies. JC is trapped and attacked. Det. Cameron tells Chris and Cynthia the whole story. It was his girlfriend at the beginning of the film, and since that day he had been looking for her killer (the very first corpse that produced all these new slugs).

On the night of the prom dance, our students are forced to make one last stand against these weird sentient slugs-possessed zombies! They grab a flamethrower from the cops. The slug-zombies attack the fraternity and Cynthia's frat ex-boyfriend gets to be killed a second time. All the slugs seem to head to the basement. where there's a lot of brain specimens stored for a biology class... 

Night of the Creeps is one of the best "geek films" out there in my eyes.

Written in only a week with as many B-movie cliché he could think of, Fred Dekker wanted to be the one to direct the film himself. It's work of passion, and it shows.

The film is a fun mix of zombie film, slashers and classic alien invasion flicks from the 1950s. It hits all the notes from all these 80s horror films we all love.

He originally intended the film to be in black and white, but no producer (even to this day) wanted to make that sacrifice. 

The film has a pretty small but fun cast, Jason Lively as Chris Romero, Jill Whitlow as Cynthia Cronenberg, the great Tom Atkins as Ray Cameron, Steve Marshall as "J.C.", which, yes, stands for James Carpenter Hooper. There's also Wally Taylor as Detective Landis, Bruce Solomon as sergeant Raimi. As you might have guessed all these names are allusions to great horror movie directors.

The film just has a great cast of characters. One of our leads is disabled, JC's disability might be part of who he is but they never make an issue out of it. Surprisingly enough, Night of the Creeps is one of those rare horror films which didn't exclude female characters for a change. And unlike, say, JC, Cynthia does get to kick some zombie ass near the end!

Thrill Me!!

Night of the Creeps is a great homage to classic B-movies. A loving tributes to all kinds of classic films from old school 1950s alien invasion films to great gory horror films produced at the time in the 1980s. Most notably to Invasion of the Body Snatchers, there's even a few subtle direct references to the infamous Plan 9 From Outer Space!

The film is fun, gory and the special effects, even if a bit cheesy, are on point. It's a really nice homage to the genre.

The tone is set in the first seconds, with goofy lasers. From there on we get plenty of blood, violence and even some standard 80s nudity. The 50s vibe is also greatly captured on screen thanks to the opening sequence set to black & white (as intended for the whole film originally). I love the slightly low budget-aspect of the introduction.

It's a film that seems to love the genre (hence the horror directors shootouts).

The film is famous for having a whole alternate ending cut from the final product. There was supposed to be a final scene showing Det. Cameron surviving the explosion, now a burned zombie. His brain would explode... spreading even more of these slugs to the nearest cemetery, when suddenly... the spaceship from the beginning of the film would finally return! Tying the whole thing nicely back together into a definitively more science-fiction direction, an element from the beginning of the film that gets sort of forgotten through the film.

The music was greatly composed by Barry De Vorzon, with Stan Ridgway.It ages the film just a little, but it was pretty fun. There's a great march for the zombies and a fun creepy vibe through the whole film in well and due form.

Overall, Night of the Creeps is a really fun horror comedy film! It can both be pretty scary at times, and kind of goofy at the same time. There's a ton of great quotable lines. The creepy slug parasites that turn people into blood-thirsty zombies were so memorable and unique (back then).

While it's kind of sad to see this gem kind of forgotten nowadays, I find it to be a really underrated classic. Highly Recommended for any horror movie buffs! It has a fun derivative take on zombies, taking it back to early alien invasion films, making it its own creature. A memorable entry in the genre.

Speaking of its lasting impact, the film was mostly served as inspiration and basis for the "unofficial remake"directed by ex-Troma alumni, James Gunn's SLITHER! Taking some cues from the alternate ending of Night of the Creeps, Slither has much more scifi direction in its story and it puts a lot more emphasis on these sort of parasites being alien creatures that apparently took over many worlds before.

And while we're on the subject, Night of the Creeps never really received a true sequel or anything really, but there's another unofficial entry, the German horror film Night of the Creeps 2 - Zombie Town.. which is really campy and barely has anything to do with the first film.

Really, the closest we ever got to a true sequel in tone and spirit was probably Fred Dekker’s own Monster Squad which sort of takes a similar premise. Instead of being about adults obsessed with monsters (like Cynthia's knowledge of zombies) and transpose it to kids obsessed with classic monsters instead.

I give it:
3 / 3 Necronomicons!

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