Just in time for Halloween, I’m reviewing “Night of the Creeps”. It’s an 80’s American horror comedy directed and written by Fred Dekker. It stars Tom Atkins, Jason Lively, Steve Marshall and Jill Whitlow. It’s an homage to B-Movies that looks at what would happen if George Romero, John Huges and Roger Corman had a cinematic baby together.
The film explores much of the horror/sci-fi genre by being part slasher film, part zombie film, and partly an alien infestation piece. Like in the movie “Slither”, the zombies are created by space slugs that invade a host’s brain, giving bodies the ability to animate even after death. Spoilers from this point on!!!
The film started with an infected alien launching a canister of the slugs to Earth. The canister was eventually found by a college man whose date happens to be in the process of being murdered. We fast-forward 27 years to find buddies Chris and J.C. during pledge week at Corman University. We saw Chris admiring hotty Cynthia from afar, but he was afraid to talk with her. So Chris concocted a plan to join a fraternity to impress her, not realizing that she is already dating fratboy Brad.
As part of their supposed initiation, Brad had Chris and J.C. dump a cadaver on the steps of one of the other fraternities or sororities. They mistakenly broke into a top secret laboratory, and released the cryogenically preserved body of the college man the slugs infected 27 years ago. Controlled by the slugs, he goes to the last place it remembers (the sorority house of the woman that was murdered), which happened to be the same house that Cynthia is at.
As the boys are interrogated by Detective Cameron, who also was an ex-boyfriend of the woman murdered, Cynthia saw the recently freeze-dried zombie at her window before it exploded it head and releases its payload of slugs. Later, she confided in Chris and J.C about what she saw. On the way back to her house, J.C. gave Chris and Cynthia a moment to be alone. Chris ran into the detective again, who confessed to taking revenge on the ax murder that killed his ex-girlfriend and about burying the body under where the House Mother was currently living. Of course we know that the body will get reanimated by the slugs.
The detective killed the ax murderer once more, while J.C. was attacked in the bathroom by slugs from the janitor zombie. He discovered their weakness to heat and fire however and managed to record a message for Chris before killing himself in the boiler room.
With this new knowledge, Chris stopped Cameron from committing suicide. Together, they armed themselves with a flamethrower and headed for Cynthia’s sorority house. Meanwhile Cynthia broke up with Brad, not really knowing he had already turned. Chris and the detective arrived just in time to save her. Unfortunately, the other fraternity guys arrived as well. Cynthia and Chris stayed outside to deal with the zombies while the Det. Cameron went inside to help. Eventually, Chris and Cynthia made their way to the basement, which conveniently had a bunch of brains from bio class. The detective was downstairs as well and started counting down.
Chris and Cynthia ran outside as the detective threw his lighter on a pile of gasoline covered slugs. The house exploded and we are treated to one of two possible endings. The version I reviewed (the extended Thrill Me version) showed the charred detective possessed and releasing slugs into the cemetery where an alien ship is scanning for them. The original version though hinted that Cynthia was attacked by a slug from a zombie dog.
This movie is a complete joy for lovers of B-Movies. It contains many hidden homages throughout, like references to other films of the genre, as well as in the names of characters and placed. It’s easy to see why it has become a cult classic. It probably doesn’t have what it take to withstand the onslaught of a normal movie review. Serious critics can be…well critical about such movies.
There are parts of the movie that get muddle as too many references and genre troupes get shoehorned in. For example, I was confused at first by the ax murder scene. It was only enjoyable once I realized the setup that it was a part of and once I acknowledged that the scene was also a call back to the old style horror slasher film. As a love letter to lovers of the genre, it’s definitely a great film to watch. It gets a 3.5 out of 5 (meaning I more than just liked it).