Night of the Creeps (1986)

notc_poster

  • Writer:  Fred Dekker
  • Director: Fred Dekker
  • Starring: Jason Lively, Tom Atkins, Steve Marshall, Jill Whitlow
  • Medium: SHUDDER (Streaming)

Synopsis

Alien slugs land on Earth, turning the people they inhabit into zombified “Creeps.” Their human host kills a couple, and cop, Ray Cameron, stops the killing. The killer is frozen (can’t remember why OR if they ever said why he was frozen). Many years later, a couple “nerds” try joining a fraternity (Chris wants to join to impress a girl) and, in the midst of a fraternity prank, unfreeze the killer, unleashing the alien slugs. It’s up to an aged Ray Cameron, Chris, JC (Chris’ friend), and Cynthia (object of Chris’ desire) to save the day.

notc_lively
Best Friends: JC (Steve Marshall) and Chris (Jason Lively)

Review

Well, I believe this was a rental back in the day, and my friend and I loved it. Can the goofy likings of a teenager hold over when an old fart re-watches it so many years later? Quite simply, the answer is yes. This wasn’t the first time I had seen the movie since my original watching as a teen. Whenever I can find this one, I will give it a watch.

This film, to me, embodies why 80s horror was so great. It’s a horror-comedy. The comedy isn’t making fun of horror films. It’s just a funny movie that also happens to be a horror film (like Shaun of the Dead). It builds characters that you actually like. It throws in a scene that touches the heart. It has everything you could ask for from this genre.

The story is simple. Aliens inhabit humans, and inhabited humans try to kill uninhabited humans. This movie isn’t like a “body snatches” type of movie where you don’t know who has been affected. Those that are affected look and act like zombies. The host is dead and gets killed. The only problem is that the slugs escape and look for their next body. There’s a touching conclusion to the events. Aside from the horror piece, you have the side-stories of the old cop, the “nerd” pining for the beautiful girl, and the strong friendship.

The actors do a wonderful job. Right. No Oscars given, but everyone performs like you’d expect and even elevates the characters. Tom Atkins is wonderful as the old cop. He is a bad ass and ends up teaming up with the kids after he is brought onto the case when the corpse from (I think it was the 50s or 60s) is unfrozen. He is pretty much an asshole, answers the phone with a pessimistic “Thrill me” greeting, but has a heart of gold. Jason Lively does an excellent job as the main “nerd,” who embraces the hero role that he is thrust into. Jill Whitlow is likable as the beautiful, popular girl who teams up with Chris. Steve Marshall gives possibly the best performance (or maybe just had the best character), as Chris’ best friend. He is on crutches because his legs cannot support him. He offers the most heart-warming scene by way of an audio cassette. He is the one that pushes his friend along and assists him to meet his goals, even if, deep down, he would rather not have his friend succeed.

The effects are dated. The make-up itself is done well, but the appliances when the human hosts are shot or split open are obvious effects pieces. When creating a horror-comedy, the effects not being on par with what WETA can do works well with the proceedings and does not take away from the film.

notc_thrillme
Thrill Me: Tom Atkins as Ray Cameron

Despite its goofy premise and comedy and lots of horror references (different character names are revealed to be Raimi, Landis, etc.), they are not afraid to put in a serious scene or build a little character. I don’t know. Seems like that balance is sorely missing when I watch films trying to fall into this vein nowadays. Maybe it’s always been a tough balance to achieve.

Film Rating: 8 Banshees out of 10 | If it’s on your streaming service, give it a watch. It’s well worth it.

Advertisements