Night of the Creeps
Reviewed by Scott Marshall
Rating: .5 Beans
just watched NIGHT OF THE CREEPS for the first time in about a dozen years- back then I must have seen it 6 times when it was on a movie channel after its undoubtedly short theatrical run.
This movie kicks ass. As my esteemed colleague Russell Tharp has already pointed out, this movie is a tribute to everything from cheap 50’s horror films to the more modern horror of the time. And the tribute is not a subtle one: the university is named after Roger Corman, and writer/director Fred Dekker (ROBOCOP 3) names various characters after James Cameron, George Romero, John Landis, David Cronenberg, Tobe Hooper, John Carpenter, and Sam Raimi. Add to that various plot elements lifted from their movies (and a brief cameo from PLAN 9) and you have one flavourful mixture of a movie- and a quintessential ‘80s movie to boot.
For those who haven’t read Russell’s review, here are the broad strokes. The film opens with a goofy colour sequence of an alien aboard a spaceship running to a garbage chute with a tube in his arms. Other aliens are in pursuit because "the experiment must not leave the ship"- but they’re too late. The tube rolls through space, like a femur in a Kubrick film, tumbling toward Earth.
Cut to 1959, and a black-and-white sequence at Corman U. A young lady has broken up with her beau and is heading to inspiration point despite radio warnings of an escaped axe murderer. They’re contemplating the stars when a rookie cop- her ex-boyfriend- awkwardly discovers them and warns them to go home what with the killer on the loose and all. They linger long enough to see a meteor fall to earth and land in the forest nearby. The girl’s rather dim date drives to the crash site and heads into the woods. Check out those trademark ‘50s shadows in a "night" scene. Anyway, the axe murderer shambles up to the car eventually and swings the axe.
Cut to the colour portion of the movie, now set in 1986, where nerdy Chris and J.C. (Jason Lively and Steve Marshall, respectively) are wandering around while everyone else pledges to a fraternity and gets wasted or laid. Lively has eyes for Cynthia Cronenberg (!), played by Jill Whitlow, who is the girlfriend of BMOC Brad. To get her attention they decide to try and pledge to Brad’s frat. The jocks and preps mess with our boys by stipulating that to get in, they must steal a corpse from the campus morgue and leave it on another frat’s doorstep.
They wander some more and luck their way into not a morgue, but a full-fledged cryogenic chamber, where the guy in the woods from 1959 is in storage. They set him loose and quickly drop him after he wakes up and grabs at them. A hapless grad student investigates and is the victim of the newly awakened alien slug that leaps from the corpse’s mouth into his own. You see, these alien parasites get into your brain, lay eggs, and pop your skull in half, releasing dozens more to continue the cycle. Sweet, huh?
A cop dreams: he comes upon a killer in 1959 chopping up his ex-girlfriend. He shoots the guy and buries him and no one is the wiser- no one but his conscience. Detective Roy Cameron (great character actor Tom Atkins) wakes from the nightmare in time for the phone to ring. He grabs the receiver and barks "thrill me!"- and the action begins. From there it’s a wild ride of alien parasites, zombies, suicidal urges, young love, pets, and flamethrowers. There are some particularly great moments, like Cameron freaking out in the sorority ("It’s Miller Time!" is his battle cry) or a girl encountering a zombie cat. I urge you to seek out this one and experience them yourself.
As for me, I’m thrilled. If you liked DEAD-ALIVE, ZOMBIE NIGHTMARE, or Cronenberg’s SHIVERS (and who wouldn’t?), you will be too.
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