I hope you’re feeling creepy today because this post is about Night of the Creeps. I have no clue why I’m just seeing this movie now because it was a really funny horror comedy. Were the 1980s the best era for the horror comedy? I think so. It definitely can’t be now, what with the A Haunted House movies, I’m pretty sure the UN considers those an act of genocide.
The movie felt familiar and then I realized it was directed by Fred Dekker, the man behind The Monster Squad.
The movie starts on a space ship. There are these mutated Cabbage Patch aliens.
One of them sends a canister out of an escape hatch and it lands in the black-and-white days of 1959. K-Plotpoint radio informs us that an escaped maniac from a mental hospital is on the loose. Young Ray Cameron (Dave Alan Johnson, grown Ray Cameron is played by Tom Atkins) tries to warn his crush and her date that there’s an escaped maniac but they don’t listen. He finds parts of her around their car and her date is by the canister from space.
Flash forward to the present. Well, the present of 1986. Chris Romero (Jason Lively)–yes, the movie’s characters are all named after a Who’s Who in horror movies–is pining for his lost high school girlfriend. He goes to a frat party with his best friend, J.C. (James Carpenter) Hooper (played by Steve Marshall) where he sees the woman he’s sure will be the love of his life. Cindy Cronenberg (Jill Whitlow).
Sadly, Cindy is dating the Cro-Mag president of the Betas, Brad (Allan J. Kaysar). They decide to pledge Beta to get Cindy’s attention. This requires them to play a prank, they have to steal a corpse and leave it at the house of a rival frat. That’s when things get weird.
Chris and J.C. find a corpse in a cryogenic tube in the basement of the hospital. Yup, it’s the date from 1959 and he’s full of intergalactic space slugs. Sound familiar? This movie was a major influence on Slither
Ray Cameron is called to investigate the corpse theft and the death of a lab assistant. He’s grown into a boozy detective out of a Dashiell Hammett story.
The slugs turned 50s Date Guy into a zombie and he’s going right back to where his old flame used to live–Cindy’s sorority house.
Pretty soon pets and even old corpses are infested with the brain slugs.
Even the Bradster is turned into a zombie and it’s up to Chris and Cindy to kill the space slugs.
J.C. figures out that they can’t tolerate heat. So it’s Ray, Chris and Cindy with some big guns and a flamethrower.
This movie doesn’t really subvert any of the clichés in horror and sci-fi movies but it’s still charming and funny. It’s streets ahead of the Scary Movie series. I think it’s because movies like Night of the Creeps earnestly love the genre and the Scary Movie series are a cynical money grab. It’s not really a scary movie but it’s fun and somewhat gory.
Some of the effects hold up better than others. The old crusty zombie isn’t my favorite but he’s all withered and desiccated like a Fulci zombie, which is pretty cool. The slugs are deeply creepy. You don’t see them up close but they’re very fast and very slimy looking. This is no surprise, since David B. Miller of a href=”https://scarina.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/a-nightmare-on-elm-street-1984/”>A Nightmare on Elm Street and Night of the Comet created the makeup effects and designed the Creeps. Howard Berger and Robert Kurtzman also worked on the makeup effects.
Ray Cameron answers the phone “Thrill me?” in this movie. I think this movie will—wait for it—thrill you if you like horror comedy. Eh. Eh.
Edited 5/8/2014 to fix some inaccurate information about effects. Sorry about that!
- Scarina--the authoress and editrix of this site. I like scary movies and have dedicated my free time to cataloging horror--the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sometimes there are books too.
There's film criticism, literary criticism, and humor here. I can be highbrow but there's lots of pop culture too. And feminism.
I fervently love "Twin Peaks" and wish it were a real place so I could move there. I can't list my favorite scary movies because they change depending on my mood, the season, and how much coffee I've had.
I'm an artist looking for ways to blend creepy with cute. I try to channel my childhood nightmares, my love of horror, and my experiences with sleepy paralysis.
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