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NIGHT OF THE CREEPS

Eighties cheese about slug-like things burrowing into people’s bodies and turning ‘em into zombies that in the intervening years has developed a sizeable cult following.  Why?  I’ve no idea! 

The Package 
     NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, released in 1986, is one mid-eighties B-movie that somehow slipped under my radar, which in those years was NOT easy to do (NIGHT OF THE COMET...ONCE BITTEN...THE HEAVENLY KID...INVADERS FROM MARS...BETTER OFF DEAD...WEIRD SCIENCE...DEADLY FRIEND...I know ‘em all intimately!).  Therefore I’m free of the nostalgic memories apparently besetting those who’ve made this film such a cult favorite (although I’m afraid I can’t say the same for those other movies mentioned above), which is the only reason I can think of why so many otherwise sane movie-lovers have made so much of this frankly mediocre film written and directed by Fred Dekker (who’d go on to make THE MONSTER CLUB) and starring Jason Lively.  (Mr. Lively also appeared in EUROPEAN VACATION--speaking of eighties cheese...)

The Story 
     Up in space, a bunch of goofy looking aliens are engaged in trying to stop an “experimental subject” from jettisoning itself into space--too late!  The subject escapes the aliens’ confines and ends up crashing to earth in a fiery ball near a popular teen make-out spot...and an insane asylum.  It seems that a homicidal escapee from the asylum is on the loose as the comet hits the Earth, so just as a guy bolts from his car to check the crash out and leaves his GF behind, the ax-wielding nutcase reaches her and does his bloody business.
    Cut to several years later: at a college campus near the sight of the meteor crash the nerdy Chris is looking to hook up with the luscious Cindy, but is too shy to make a move.  He and his buddy J.C. decide to join a sorority, whose pledge assignments include leaving a dead body outside a prominent campus building.  No problem: Chris and J.C. ransack a nearby laboratory and discover a frozen man--a “mansickle”--and decide to use the ‘sickle for the prank.  A bad idea, as the frozen guy’s head bursts open upon hitting the ground, disgorging a gaggle of slimy slug-like critters that waste no time slithering their way throughout the campus and into the bodies of its inhabitants, whose ranks come to include Chris’ buddy J.C.  The creatures, it seems, kill their hosts and then bring them back as blood-thirsty zombies.
     Things come to a head at a sorority party with Chris and Cindy in attendance.  Naturally they’re among the few nonzombified members of the student body and, together with Rick Cameron, a grizzled cop who years earlier witnessed the meteorite crash and its initial effects on the surrounding populace, take on the zombies in an orgy of blood, fire and exploding heads (which, trust me, sounds much better than it actually plays). 

The Direction 
     Like most eighties low-budgeters, the filmmaking here is flat, poorly paced and slapdash in a way that no filmmaker today would be allowed to get away with.  The acting is uniformly lackluster and the special effects ain’t much, consisting mostly of a series of patently fake heads that in the climax all explode one after the other, each in exactly the same manner.  As in Dekker’s THE MONSTER SQUAD, there are innumerable movie in-jokes and “homages”--an opening sequence that goes out of its way to imitate that of THE BLOB, a character named Cronenberg and a cameo by the ubiquitous Dick Miller--none of which did much to enhance my viewing experience.  I understand a laserdisc version of the film exists (the film, FYI, has yet to be released in DVD format and the VHS version is long out of print) with an alternate ending, but I simply don’t care.
 

Vital Statistics

NIGHT OF THE CREEPS
Tri Star Pictures 

Director: Fred Dekker
Producer: Charles Gordon
Screenplay: Fred Dekker
Cinematography: Robert C. New
Editing: Michel N. Knue
Cast: Jason Lively, Steve Marshall, Jill Whitlow, Tom Atkins, Dick Miller, Wally Taylor, Bruce Solomon, Vic Polizos, Allan Kayser, Ken Heron, Alice Cadogan, June Harris, David Paymer, David Oliver, Evelyne Smith, Ivan E. Roth
 


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