in Shocktober

Night of the Creeps (1986)

Night of the Creeps is again a title I’d heard many times without actually knowing anything about the film. Written and directed by Fred Dekker (who directed a great film that will appear later this Shocktober) Night of the Creeps is a tongue and cheek homage to 50s B-movies. In fact, the movie begins in the 1950s before making the transition to a stereotypical 80s setting. It’s a sci-fi movie, combined with a zombie movie, in-between puss, blood, and guts. What do I have to say about all that? Meh.

The film opens with a laughable scene of little people in alien costumes chasing each other on a spaceship. I’m not sure if this is supposed to be funny or if it’s just low-budget but it’s not interesting or entertaining. One of the aliens (who’s being chased by the others) then takes a canister and shoots it into space. The canister crashes on Earth in the year 1959. Here we are introduced to a lovey-dovey couple necking in the classic “makeout point” style setting. Of course the guy “Hears something” and goes wandering around. Meanwhile the girl is listening to the radio that says a deranged axe-murderer has escaped. Okay that’s kind of funny, combining classic urban legend cliches with sci-fi cliches. So the guy finds the canister, gets infected with what’s inside, and the girl gets chopped up. This bizarre sequence somehow segues into modern day (1986) where even hornier college kids now inhabit the same small town.

If I haven’t given you enough plot there’s more! We meet Chris Romero (Jason Lively) and his annoying friend J.C. (Steve Marshall) two nerds that have little luck with the ladies. How do they decide to impress college chicks? Join a fraternity. How do they join a fraternity? They attempt to steal a cadaver. So Chris and J.C. break into a medical school and yadda, yadda unleash the dead body of the guy who was originally infected by the canister. This leads to the infected guy infecting other people through alien slugs and turning them into gross alien zombies. Woo… A lot to explain for a movie that probably doesn’t even deserve it.

I’m usually up for movies that pay tribute to the campy style of 50s B-Movies. The main problem here is that Night of the Creeps plays it too straight. The film should’ve been an all out comedy or a full on drama, instead it occupies an iffy place in the middle. Tom Atkins (Creepshow, Lethal Weapon) is also thrown into the mix as a disgruntled, one-liner spewing detective but he’s neither humorous or likable. Frankly, I’ve never thought Tom Atkins was a strong or even remotely interesting actor. They do manage to tie him into the girl who was murdered by an axe-murder, but his character is mostly set up for laughs that just don’t happen.

One interesting note is the 2006 film Slither’s similarity to Night of the Creeps. James Gunn’s Slither was another parody/homage movie essentially about the same thing. Both films have slug-like creatures that infect hosts, make them gross, and attack people. The big difference being that Slither is an all out comedy, so it works much better than this film. I feel the energy behind Night of the Creeps but it’s all over the place. Nice effects but not enough affection.

“My boyfriend’s back and you’re gonna be in trouble.”