Night of the Creeps (1986)
NIGHT OF THE CREEPS
WRITER: Fred Dekker
DIRECTOR: Fred Dekker
STARRING: Jason Lively as Chris
Steve Marshall as J.C.
Jill Whitlow as Cythia
Tom Atkins as Detective Ray Cameron
QUICK CUT: A detective is haunted by his past, when that past comes back to haunt him, and he takes a college kid under his wing.
Chris - A typical kinda geeky college guy. He's nice, he's sweet, but he's awkward and shy around girls. He does better around flamethrowers.
JC - Chris's best friend. He's a major goofball, a prankstar, and the extrovert to Chris's introvert.
Cynthia - The love interest of the movie, and dating the head of the frat Chris and JC are pledging. She's your average nice girl, sweet, girl next door...
Detective Ray Cameron - A hard boiled two fisted almost noir style cop. He's haunted by his past, and struggling to keep going, and always looking for his next thrill.
THE GUTS: Welcome back, Triskelions! Fall has fallen, Halloween is creeping closer, and the Spooktober times have begun. So I'll be kicking things off with Night of the Creeps. I have somehow managed to NEVER see this movie,and always heard it listed as a comedy, so was always a bit dubious of if it would be any good. So come on movie...thrill me.
The movie opens up on a spaceship with...a naked, big headed alien creature running from some friends of his, carrying a canister and launching it off into the depths of space.
Huh. That...was not how I expected this movie to begin.
But we then find ourselves on Earth, in 1959 at Corman University. College lovers Johnny and Pam head out to lover's lane, and briefly run into Pam's ex, a cop. There's also an escaped mental patient on the loose, but I'm sure that won't be a problem.
The two lovers go back to looking for the brightest star in the sky...when it decides to rocket past them overhead. Johnny is all for going to find out what that was, and they drive in pursuit.
Johnny finds the crash site and goes to investigate what it was, and leaves Pam in the car. How romantic!
As he sneaks through the woods to find the falling star, Pam listens to the radio and finds out she's right in the path of where the escaped killer was seen, but completely misses him sneaking up behind her.
Johnny finds the can that was ejected into space, and something leaps out of the goo and into his mouth, while the killer comes up behind Pam and axes her in the back of the head. And we'll never know what Johnny found, cause he's dead!
And so we follow up on that by jumping ahead to 1986! And colour photography. We quickly meet our three leads; Chris the hero, who's shy and quiet, his loud goofy best friend sidekick JC, and the girl Chris likes, Cynthia. Oh, and her last name is Cronenberg.
JC does his best to get the two to meet, since Chris is the sort to just stand around and pine from afar so she never even knows he exists.
Chris decides the only way to impress Cynthia is to join a frat, because logic. The frat decides for their initiation, Chris and JC must steal a corpse and dump it on the porch of a rival frat.
They sneak into the lab on campus and find a door locked by a keypad. JC loves pushing buttons and just so happens to hit the right one to open the door, so they decide to check it out.
Inside, they find Johnny's cryogenically frozen corpse. And hey, he's a dead body, and that's what they're looking for, JC starts pushing more buttons, to try and get him out.
Alarms start going off, the body wakes up, and the boys run away screaming, right past the doctor on site who goes into the lab to see what damage they caused.
Johnsicle grabs the scientist and horfs the squiggly thing out of his own mouth and into the scientist's, so he's dead I guess.
As the kids run and hide in their dorm room, we cut to Tom "Halloween 3" Atkins himself, sitting in the snazziest of white suits on the sandiest of beaches being given the tropicalest of drinks by the hottest of girls.
Because that's just how Tom Motherfuckin' Atkins rolls.
Out of the ocean rises Pam in a shimmering dress, and as Tom tries to get a better look, he's suddenly in a cop uniform, watching the escaped mental patient hacking her up in the back of Johnny's car. Yup, this is the cop boyfriend, all grown up, and still haunted by that night.
Ray gets woken up from his nightmare by a phone call, and he gets called down to the cryo lab to investigate the break in and death of the scientist. There was supposed to be two bodies, but Sgt. Raimi had a mix up and it got lost in the shuffle.
We muck around Cynthia's sorority house for a bit, as Johnny's corpse walks around the place, probably looking for Pam.
Johnny appears at Cynthia's window, and explodes into a pile of creepyslugs, and we immediately cut to the cops arriving to collect the now probably fully dead body.
We also find out that Chris is named Romero, and JC is actually James Carpenter Hooper...and they get called in for questioning by Detective Hooper. AHHH TOO MUCH REFERENCES.
They admit what they did and didn't do, and get sent home. Meanwhile, the scientist wakes up from his death nap and shambles back to the labs.
Slugs are now wandering all over the place, and we hear something scratching at the sorority back door, so one of the girls goes to let her cat in. We are set up to expect another cat jump scare but...
Cynthia comes over to talk out her trauma of finding a head exploding corpse outside her window, and JC gives the two some space. He ends up in the rest room and hears some stuff outside.
JC peeks out of his stall, and sees the headsploded janitor laying on the floor, and slugs crawling all around.
He sets one on fire, and sees that's at least an effective weapon against them. He tries to get away, but ends up with one crawling into his face part of his face.
The pacing of this movie does tend to slow down a bit, and there's moments of just people talking, but it always feels like SOMEthing is going on, or is about to, or all at least ties into the plot. It's slow, but never really feels that way.
Chris isn't too believing of Cynthia's story, but Ray overhears it, and with the stuff he's seen...well, he drags the kid off to do an exposition infodump on him.
And this might be one of the best scenes in the movie. Atkins is acting his ass off, and his story is filled with darkness, depth, and heart, even as he's admitting to killing someone, and burying their corpse in an empty field...which is now the sorority mother's home.
In that house, we find the woman watching Plan 9, and at least they avoided the danger of showing a better movie in your crappy movie. But her watching is interrupted as the axe wielding maniac decides to wake up and bash his way through her floorboards, thanks to a wakeup call from a slug finding his corpse.
Detective Cameron gets the call and rushes down to the scene of the crime, which is also the scene of his crime, hah! Anyways, this is deja vu all over again, as the man he put down decades ago, is back.
But the big formal is on, despite all the murders and slugs, so the movie gets to get in its quota of beefcake and boobs while everyone gets ready.
Chris gets his tux on, and notices JC's tape recorder sitting on his desk, and listens to his friend's final words. He hurries off to the boiler room, and finds his friend is extra crispy, taking his own life to stop the worms. This is another moment of really great heart, and more darkness, as the best friend is lost.
Meanwhile, frat guys are piling into a bus for the dance, and Cynthia's ex is going to yell at her, when he finds the sorority mother's dog, who spits a slug in his mouth.
Chris heads to Ray's to tell him JC is dead, and what's going on, and maybe he's not crazy. His timing is impeccable, because he stops the cop from committing suicide at too much crazy shit going on.
Meanwhile, the bus sees zombeagle in the road, and the driver swerves to avoid it, giving the slug puppy an ample amount of new hosts to play with. Get on board the Zombus!
Ray and Chris head to the police station because they need Bigger Fuckin' Guns, and a flamethrower, from the armory. They don't have any forms for those things though, and the cop on duty is reluctant to just hand such a weapon over. But Cameron points his shotgun through the cage at Officer Walter Paisley and...huh, that name sounds familiar...
Also, when Walt asks, "What is this, Halloween?" there's this look on Atkins face like...no, that was the other movie I was in.
Zombrad shows up at the sorority house to talk to Cynthia, and two things. One, no one notices his sunken, dead face. Two, the girl who answers the door just leaves it open, and Zombrad just stands there waiting. He's more of a gentleman now that he's dead.
Cynthia has the breakup chat with Zombrad while he spits out slugs behind her. Chris and Cameron show up, shoot him in the head, and set him on fire before the slugs can escape. They are an effective team, at least.
Ray heads inside to check on the girls, while Chris tries to get Cynthia out of her state of shock. Which he better hurry up and do, because the Zombus riders have arrived for their dates. And it was a firefight!
So much blood, gore, head explosions, and fire. It may be one of the most glorious cinematic fights ever in a horror movie.
The lovebirds hole up in a tool shed love shack while the zombie apocalypse surrounds them. More death, more fire, and eventually we even get a zombie getting his face sliced up by a lawnmower, man. So there's something for everyone here.
Cynthia remembers one of the sisters was storing some science projects in the basement, a bunch of brains, and that's bad, because the slugs feed on them. So they rush down there to take care of that problem, and find a slug pile infestation, and Tom Atkins ready to torch the place with a can of gasoline, and his mouth taped up for protection.
Ray rips off the tape so he can communicate, and one of the slugs immediately takes an opportunity to take him over.
But nope. Tom Motherfuckin' Atkins is so badass he's the only one who can grab a spaceslug and stop it from entering his mouth by yelling at it.
Ray gives them a countdown of 20 to get out of there before he torches the whole place down, himself with them.
And so the movie ends with Chris and Cynthia snogging, as the fire department rides in from the sunrise. But not before Crispy Cameron walks off, falls over, and releases a new infestation of slugs into the nearby cemetery to set up the sequel that never came.
Video: This looks absolutely great for the 80s.
Audio: Sounds really good too, with some great squiggly sounds for the critters...no wait, wrong movie.
Sound Bite: "Zombies, exploding heads, creepy crawlies, AND a date for the formal? This is classic Spanky."
Body Count: It's decent to begin with, and then things go overboard and I lose track.
1 - Johnny dies when he gets taken over by the Stuff?
2 - Pam dies from the axe murderer
3 - Scientist gets killed when the parasite jumps from Johnny.
4 - We see the escaped madman get killed by Ray.
4 - Janitor dies with a headsplosion
5 - JC gets slugged
6 - Old woman gets axed in the face by a zombie.
7 - The escaped killer gets killed again by Ray!
8 - Brad gets slugged.
A bus crashes and leaves many bodies, living, dead, and somewhere in between.
Zombrad gets shot and fried.
And then there's the zombie sorority house massacre
Last - Tom Motherfuckin' Atkins dies in a home explosion...but his corpse goes on a bit longer.
Best Corpse: I'm actually gonna go with the lawnmower to the face? It's creative, it's not seen very often, and while you don't actually SEE it, it still stands out.
Blood Type - B: I feel like there could be more blood from stuff going on, but we still get some great head explosions, both on camera, and after the fact. Plus the simple practical effects of the worms are great.
Sex Appeal: We get a whole scene of men and women getting ready in various stages of undress.
Drink Up! Thrill me.
Video Nasties: I *wanted* to use the clip of the backstory, with the amazing acting, but that's just too long. Instead, have a fun clip with going to get the flamethrower from Officer Paisley.
Movie Review: This is a great movie. It takes a lot of familiar tropes, throws them in a blender, and gives you an absolutely packed movie smoothie for you to drink it all up. It has moments of camp, sure. And while it does have funny moments, labeling it as a comedy just feels wrong. It really is a horror movie with genuine thrills and chills, and it is packed with ideas. The acting from the main cast is great, and Atkins is GREAT. His portrayal of Cameron is a performance for the horror ages. I came into this movie, having never seen it before, and absolutely LOVED it. Five out of five space slugs.
Entertainment Value: It is entertaining as hell. It's silly when it should be, it's campy, it pays homage to the past, and has some great performances mixed in with some camp. Atkins is a joy to watch, and this film just capture crazy sluggish lightning in a bottle. But there's very little here that is 'so bad it's good' territory, four out of five thrills.