A group of scientists have developed the Resonator, a machine which allows whoever is within range to see beyond normal perceptible reality. But when the experiment succeeds, they are immediately attacked by terrible life forms.
On the night of Halloween, 10 teens decide to go to a party at an abandoned funeral parlor. "Hull House", rumored to be built on an evil patch of land & underground stream, is the place. ... See full summary »
In 1959, an alien experiment crashes to earth and infects a fraternity member. They freeze the body, but in the modern day, two geeks pledging a fraternity accidentally thaw the corpse, which proceeds to infect the campus with parasites that transform their hosts into killer zombies. Written by
After an "experiment" is accidentally released from a spaceship in a tube, it crashes on Earth where it infects a youth in the 1950s. Flash forward to the mid 1980s, and the youth is now cryogenically frozen in a university lab for study. At least until Chris Romero (Jason Lively) and J.C. Hooper (Steve Marshall) release him, and he begins infecting countless members of a small college town.
Director and writer Fred Dekker, who has had a lamentably short career as a helmer, wrote Night of the Creeps in seven days. He told himself that if he did not get to the end of the script by that self-imposed deadline, the whole thing would go into the garbage. If this is what one can come up with in such a flurry, maybe more scripts should have time limits. We should also be glad that he sold the script with a caveat: if he wasn't allowed to helm the film, he wasn't going to sell it. He's said that he didn't care if it sold or not at the time.
Why Dekker has received so little recognition and respect in the industry is difficult to say. Night of the Creeps didn't have the wide release and promotion that it deserved, especially given its $5 million budget (it's curious that TriStar didn't push more to make its money back). Both this film and Dekker's 1987 effort, The Monster Squad, are currently only available on bootleg DVDs in the U.S.
Night of the Creeps is one of the better horror/comedies of the 1980s. The script is clever, paying homage to everything from 1950s sci-fi horror to the zombie craze started by George Romero to 1980s slasher films and even John Hughes. Just in case one couldn't catch the homage angle, Dekker has a lot of character and place names that are tributes to various genre directors. Dekker's dialogue is witty and memorable--there are a few classic diatribes in the film that would be worthwhile and a lot of fun to memorize. Dekker's writing is self-conscious and self-mocking, predating Scream (1996) by 10 years (there is actually a whole class of 1980s and early 1990s flicks that were doing everything Scream was credited with revolutionizing). Dekker is not afraid to be joyously silly, as with genre character actor favorite Tom Atkins' response when asked if he's Detective Cameron--"No, Bozo the Clown". Dekker even gives us the 1980s high school classic of the hand-cranked middle finger.
But Night of the Creeps isn't just a comedy. The serious horror aspects of Night of the Creeps are extremely well done. The film is suspenseful, the effects are good, and there is plenty of gore for fans. Dekker could have easily made an effective retro horror film--most of the first five minutes are set in the 1950s, shot in black and white, and have an authentic feel, with just a dash of tongue in its cheek. He smoothly transitions from The Blob (1958) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)-styled sci-fi (with heavy Alien (1979) touches) to early 1980s slasher material, then to a more complex and fantastic collage of zombies, slugs and detectives seeking revenge.
While the film isn't likely to be appreciated by those who dislike mixing their horror with comedy, and especially won't be appreciated by viewers who don't even realize that it's supposed to also be a comedy, neither type is very likely to watch it in the first place--at least not for long. For those with the appropriate mindset and love of horror (it's a lot more fun if one is familiar with everything being referenced), Night of the Creeps is a gem that deserves better recognition. We should at least be able to buy it on an official DVD (and please put both endings on the disc).
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