Directed by Fred Dekker, 1986
Why did Fred Dekker stop making movies? Night of the Creeps was his first flick and while it isn’t as perfect as The Monster Squad, it is still a highly entertaining creature feature. It’s a bummer the last thing we’ve gotten from him as a director was Robocop 3… It opens on an alien spaceship with several squat, naked uglies chasing after one of their crew, who is carrying a container of some sort, which he hastily flushes out of an airlock. The container then spirals down to earth… The first 15 minutes of the film are a fun little mixed bag of genres. Dekker gives us the sci-fi origins on the spaceship, then cuts to a black and white scenario typical of vintage horror. The perfect match of Sorority girl and Frat boy are parked in their convertible at Look Out Point. They pay no attention to the radio, which keeps getting cut off by warnings of an escaped mental patient with an axe. Joe Frat Boy sees the container crash into the forest like a meteor and speeds off to go inspect. He abandons his date to go take a closer look. While slugs burst forth from the container and into his mouth, his date gets chopped to pieces by the escaped mad man… Now that is how you open a creature feature! Cut to a college campus in the ’80s and our two geeky heroes, Chris Romero and J.C. Hooper. Fred Dekker is great at writing realisitic and funny banter between good friends – whether they’re in college or middle school. In an attempt to join a Frat and thus impress a Sorority girl, Cynthia Cronenberg (noticing a trend in the naming scheme here?), they release the cryogenically frozen body of the axe murder from earlier in the film, who is also host to the space slugs. The much aged, depressed and probably alcoholic cop from the ’50s is brought back into the picture as the chaos of the night begins. Slugs spread all over the place, zombifying those whose brains they impregnate… It isn’t a perfect movie. It kind of lags a little bit in the middle, and the acting is really pretty half-assed; especially on part of Jason Lively, the film’s main man (the same guy who played Rusty in European Vacation). It also doesn’t help that the budget wasn’t really there to pull off a lot of the set pieces and effects, so instead we have to settle for quick cuts which hide this fact. Still though, there are some pretty decent effects in the movie and a bunch of really great and funny shots. Dekker obviously knows the genre very well, peppering the film with fun little easter eggs and refrences to movies of the past. He knows when to really let us laugh at the silliness of the situation, which is a great thing. It’s full of all the hallmarks of the town-invasion film, which combined with ’80s goodness is something to really have fun with. It’s pure coincdence that I happened to watch Night of the Creeps the same weekend as Slither. I’ve been meaning to hit up Creeps as well as Night of the Comet for several weeks now, so when I happened to pass over that Creeps was a Fred Dekker film I had to pop it in first. The similarities between NotC and Slither are so shockingly apparent that I had to go do some research online to see just how intentional it was. I know James Gunn packed his slime-fest with all kinds of genre refrences – and what genre movie doesn’t play the horror director name game when it comes to its characters – but the concepts of the two are almost identical. To the credit of Gunn, he has repeatedly said that he hadn’t even seen Night of the Creeps until after shooting had finished on Slither. It’s too bad for him that all of his obvious winks at films of the past get him high praise as being a ‘student of the genre’, yet he gets torn a new one from fan boys who say he’s just ripping off Creeps. I’m off to go watch Dekker’s episode of "Tales From the Crypt" and hope that he announces a comeback film at this summer’s Fango Con in California.