After starting in Washington D.C. nine years ago Horror Movie Night has expanded to include chapters in Austin, Dallas and Chicago. Horror’s Not Dead’s own Brian Kelley is the originator and programmer of this illustrious weekly Wednesday night tradition which features a “classic” horror film. Each week I will be reviewing/commenting on the past week’s selection so do your best to find the film, most of which have not made it past VHS, and follow along. Better yet, start your own chapter!
I have four words for you that should give you all you need to know about this week’s film: directed by David DeCoteau. I’ll wait while it all sinks in your brain.
That name is infamous in the world of cheap, quick and direct-to-video titles. This man got his start as a production assistant at New World Pictures with the great Roger Corman over thirty years ago. Not long after, he would hook up with Charles Band at Empire Pictures and start his directing career. This led to numerous ventures with Band and he even followed him over to Full Moon Entertainment. If you’re not familiar with DeCoteau, it’s all right. I won’t hold it against you, but he did direct the great Dreamaniac (1986), which was on the HMN schedule back in May. This time we have met up with an older and wiser (HA!) director and his 1987 film Creepozoids. The magic is, as you might suspect, stupefying.
Jake: Let’s do a little recon. Blanca, you and Butch over there. Kate, you and I over here. Forty paces, no further. Rendezvous back here in five minutes.
Kate: Maybe we shouldn’t, we don’t know what’s in there.
Jake: Yeah, well we’re gonna fucking find out! Now let’s hump it!
I normally love small films. A very limited cast and intimate setting make way to showcase great acting and fine writing. However, the other side of that coin is that it’s cheaper and easier to make a quick direct-to-video flick with some less than stellar means. Allegedly this was shot in twelve days, and I’m kind of shocked. Not because it was so fast, but for something of this quality and a 68 minute runtime (including credits) it should’ve been shot quicker. Guess the FX work took up quite a bit of shooting time, which is fine because that’s one of the strongest parts of this film. Not only is there a really cool, super tall insect creature, but also there are huge rats and other surprises that we’ll get to later. After our first deserter, Jesse, the resident nerd of the group, meets the being, he is fine until breakfast the next morning. Something he was infected with causes him to basically meltdown and die in an array of black goo, puss and a throbbing mutated hand while his buddies watch in horror.
It’s quite spectacular actually.The biggest draw to this film is most definitely the one and only Linnea Quigley in the role of Blanca. No one else had really done much of anything so far and LQ was hot off her role as the punk rock sex symbol Trash in Return of the Living Dead, a favorite of young boys worldwide. In seeing her name in the opening credits (also listed as a producer) and knowing this is a DeCoteau film I had a mental bet with myself that her shirt would be off within the first fifteen minutes. Even though there’s no reason for her to shed skin I just knew that someone would find a way to have her topless. Of course she did get naked in that shower with her companion Butch, but you’ll have to see if my timeframe was right in the bullet points below.
Convenience plays a big role in this film. Not only does the group find this easily broken into secret research facility, but they also have such great luck with what’s inside. When Jake needs a first aid kit at one point he knows right where to look. He runs straight to the middle of three lockers where it’s directly in front of his face. Then later, when he’s battling the giant insect, he snags one unmarked box off one of many shelves full of different sized boxes and it magically contains just what he needs to take down his adversary. He lucks out quite a bit, but I guess that’s good considering how stupid these guys are. Jake is, or was before their desertion, a commanding officer and a little older than the rest. Somehow he made it through his life without ever hearing of or learning about amino acids. Butch isn’t any better. He thinks they’re in a bomb shelter, even though there’s lab equipment and computers everywhere. This genius also has a gun in hand when the monstrous “bug” comes at him and all he does is scream like a girl as it grabs him and carts him away. They deserve everything they get.
There are also some great “what-the-hell” kind of moments. I’m not just saying this because somehow this post-nuclear world’s underground research facility somehow has fresh fruit in its kitchen or because there are killer rats the size of a cocker spaniel –there’s much stranger stuff going on here. After Butch has been captured the insect sprays his unconscious body with a black liquid that infects him. It’s a very dirty moment in the film and I had a Twitter argument with my buddy @noahphex, who was watching along with the Austin crew, as to whether this was mutant pee or jizz. I still think it’s jizz and he disagrees, but I’m sure we can both find common ground that waking up to a seven-foot tall insect spraying you with anything would be pretty terrifying. These mutated bodily fluids are nothing though. You might think this is the craziest moment, or the physical meltdowns and mutations suffered by the characters are the craziest, but you would be VERY wrong. Jake has a showdown with our bad bug in a storeroom of some kind that goes on for far too long, but it ends when he plunges a syringe into its face that takes it down. As he catches his breath the something crawls out from inside – a killer baby with pointed teeth! Amazing, I know! This leads to some cat-and-mouse games ultimately ending when Jake strangles the infant with its umbilical cord in a most disturbing scene. If only this whole thing would have happened sooner and with more humans still alive it could have gone in a very awesome direction.
It’s hard to say if that last seven minutes with the weird out-of-nowhere baby makes the whole film worth it, but it’s pretty freaking awesome! There are some good FX in Creepozoids and some boobs so I guess it’s not all bad in the grand scheme of direct-to-video horror from the late 80s. You will also learn how truly long 68 minutes can sometimes feel. Until next week – never travel in a post-nuclear mutant world without a jumbo can of Raid.
Coming soon to Horror Movie Night (Chronicles are posted one week after screening):