When two nerdy college guys try to pledge for a fraternity on the campus of Corman University, they are sent on a task that unfortunately has them awakening a frozen corpse. The corpse just so happens to have alien parasites that infect peoples brains! Turning them into mindless zombies! The entire college town is in trouble and on the brink of mayhem!
Night of the Creeps is a 1986 horror film directed by Fred Dekker and stars Jason Lively, Tom Atkins, Steve Marshall and Jill Whitlow. The movie was made as a tribute to 50’s black and white sci-fi horror films. The film received mixed reviews but has in recent years gained a cult following.
It always surprises me how many people have never seen this movie. But if you’re looking for one of those rare gems of the 80’s that delivers a crazy slew of horror themes in one giant mashup, then 1986’s Night of The Creeps is the movie for you. This movie is like a twelve year old horror fanatic from the 80’s describes his ideal horror movie to his dad. Here is the scene, a father and son sitting there. The television screen is tuned into Comedy Central and MST3K is on.
“So you have an alien carrying a vile of something and he’s being chased by other aliens with guns.” little boy says to his dad.
“Oh so this is an outer space movie?” – asks his dad.
“No, not at all! They shoot a hole in the ship and the vile of something…”
“Wait, whats in the vile?” says dad.
“What?” the kid asks.
“The vile, whats in it?” the father patiently asks again.
“Oh you’ll find out! Anyways, the vile flies out and crash lands on earth. Then this couple is on a date but the before that the screen goes to black and white! Just like those old movies on Mystery Science Theater 3000 we watch!” the boy says while pointing to the tv screen. On the screen is a giant eyeball crawling up a mountain and a silhouette of a man is wiping the eye.
“So, the entire movie is in black and white?” the dad asks.
“No dad, just this one scene. Kind of like… kind of like making the movie feel like an old movie.” the boy says.
“Ok, go on.” the dad says.
“So this guy goes and checks the vile that lands and he gets infected. But then the girl gets killed by an insane guy with an axe… because he escaped from the hospital.” the boys says.
“Wait, this is a slasher movie? What about the infected boyfriend?” the dad says while scratching his head.
“Because we like slasher movies like Halloween dad! That’s why! Anyways, we jump to the 80’s and two nerds are trying to get into a college club.” the boys says.
“You mean a fraternity.” the dad says.
“Sure! But the club leader gives them a job to do and they wake up the infected guy from before up! And these slugs come out of him and they infect people and turn them into zombies!” the boy says.
“Hold on, you have alien slugs that kill people? So why do they become zombies? Where did the guy with the axe go?” the dad asks.
“The guy with the axe is gone! But he’s in the dreams of the cop that was there the night the girl was killed” the kid says.
“Now we have a cop?” the dad says.
“Yea, he’s kind of like Columbo but cooler and he says things like “Thrill me” when he reports to a case.” the kid says.
“Ok, so a wise cracking cop. So what next.” the dad asks.
“Well, the zombie guy unloads the slugs and they kill all living things like a cat and it’s real scary. People start getting infected and the slugs make their brains explode!” the kid says while jumping up and down.
“Why would the slugs make the heads explode son” asks dad.
“Because it would be cool!” says the kid
“Ok, so how does it all end?” the kid says.
“Well one of the nerds ends up teaming up with this hot girl and they fight the zombies. Oh and the hot girl has a blow torch…” the kid says.
“Wait, how does she get a blow torch?” dad asks.
“She just does! Cops have one in every department.” the boy says.
“Fine, thats a little reaching but… keep going.” says dad.
“So they all fight these slugs and the nerdy ginger guy gets the girl and everything ends!” the boy says.
“Ok, sounds good son!” dad says.
“It sure does! Some old lady and her dog dies. That douche bag frat guy gets it and so do a bunch of college kids! Oh we’re also gonna pay tribute to that metal band you like called Stryper” the kid says.
And there we have Night of The Creeps!
Dekker Is A Genius!
I can’t help but laugh at certain similarities that this movie has with 1987’s The Monster Squad. Both were made by Fred Dekker. Both films would bomb at the box office and seemingly end his directing career. But in recent years both films have had a resurgence amongst the horror community and have cult followings. Both films feature two unruly cops struggling and then working together with a more youthful protagonist. Of course Ray Cameron’s character is much more involved and dies while The Monster Squads Del seems to work his way into the mayhem but also rekindle his suffering marriage. But still the movies are two homage films that bring classic eras of horror into the (at that time) modern age.
Silver Age Homage
Night of the Creeps is a homage to Silver Age horror flicks like 1958’s The Blob and The Trollenberg Terror but with a modern Bronze Age twist to it. In the beginning of the film after the alien capsule crash lands to earth, the picture turns to black and white just like classic films. When the movie first premiered they passed out anti-scream masks that were meant to keep the slugs from entering viewers mouths. This was done as a nod to horror gimmick director William Castle.
Golden Age Homage
The Monster Squad is a film that pays homage to the Golden Age 1930’s monster movies like Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man and the Mummy… but with a Bronze Age style twist to it!
Fred Dekker was a director way before his time! Homage horror may be a thing going on right now with movies like Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, Cabin In The Woods, Tucker & Dale vs Evil, and Malignant. But Fred Dekker thought of it way before the idea of paying homage was even a thing. You could classify 1988’s Killer Klowns From Outer Space as a homage film, that thing is basically The Blob retold with alien clowns. But Dekker did it first!
The two films even share a line of dialogue and editing that mimic each other. In the two films, Ray Cameron and Del share almost exactly the same exact line! Ray says it about the walking alien infested guy and Del says the same thing about the Mummy! Then right after their line is delivered there is a shot of the dead guy they’re referring to walking, menacingly in the night. I’m not kidding, look at this picture. The shots are practically the same set up and outcome.
This has got to be one of the best things about these movies because it sets us up for this hilarious reveal. Yea copper, you think dead guys can’t walk? Well think again, jokes on you bitch! For some reason I always love this transition into dramatic irony. You see this all the time like in 1993’s Jurassic Park where Dr. Sattler is talking to Dr. Grant about the raptors and if they’re contained. Dr. Sattler looks at Grant and says “Yes, unless they figure out how to open doors.” Then BOOM! we get the shot of a raptor figuring out a door handle! It’s an epic scene where we in the theater go WOMP WOM WOOOOOOOM. That is called dramatic irony given on a silver platter my friend. But Fred Dekker uses these two very same lines and shots perfectly and the fact that they’re both in the movies he directed is awesome!
You have to love this movie. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. It uses the Silver Age sci-fi horror has a vehicle for the 80’s zombie/slasher touch. The blend of slasher and zombie vibes make you forget you’re seeing an alien creature feature. But it’s not overblown to the point where it outweighs it. The slugs are equally as terrifying as the zombies. All in all it’s a complete package of horror goodness any fanatic will love. You have some seriously awesome heads being blown up and practical effects to die for. Det. Ray Cameron is perfect with his one liners and portrayal of the disgruntled cop with a past that connects him to the current events. His lines and mannerisms make you laugh, especially when he’s telling a story of seeking revenge on an axe murderer to a scared Jason Lively.
I think it’s a shame that Fred Dekker didn’t get a chance to make more horror films. Night of The Creeps (and The Monster Squad) are movies that show he has a good grasp on what makes horror movies truly fun and intriguing. We always wonder what the future of horror will be in this modern age. Often we complain about not having anything new and risky. But maybe Night of the Creeps serves as a good glimmer into how old ideas can be used in a new era of film. I don’t know, that’s just how I see this film. So go ahead and check out Night of the Creeps!
Thanks for Reading!
Wow, day twenty nine of HMM 2021! That’s a shit load of movies, but guess what! You don’t have to stop right here. How about adding these other day twenty nine movies to your horror season from my past Horror Movie Marathons!
If you’re new to this marathon then go ahead and check out the rest of the HMM 2021 posts.