Night of the Creeps successfully blends science fiction, horror, and comedy into one hell of a movie. Granted, it’s not as entertaining, gory, or funny as The Return of the Living Dead, but it will do just fine. After all, this is more of an enjoyable homage to some of the cult classics than a stand-alone movie. Something you’ll surely notice when you start hearing numerous references to not only popular horror movies but also directors. All of this makes it a bit disjointed but there’s a common thread that helps you keep the focus on the important stuff.
We open with one hell of a scene featuring weird-looking aliens running around a spaceship. Then we switch to a stylish black and white intro set in the fifties before finally settling in the eighties. This part of the plot reminded me of Critters, another great horror-comedy. However, the main story is much more similar to The Hidden that’s a straight-up horror movie and not a comedy. Night of the Creeps works like your standard college comedy with two best friends navigating girls, fraternities, and eventually zombies. It’s giving off strong Superbad vibes if that reference isn’t too old for ya.
Counting heavily on the snappy dialogue to keep you engaged it’s not as gory or graphic as you would think. Especially for an eighties movie with this type of plot. However, the few scenes of blood and guts we do get look quite effective and gruesome. Fred Dekker’s next movie is probably his best as The Monster Squad is an entertaining PG-13 fantasy with a feel-good atmosphere. And you can also feel here that the cast along with the rest of the crew had a good time while making this movie.
Corman University is a place where the best parties and the prettiest girls are. And Chris and his best friend J.C. know this. During one of those parties, Chris falls in love with Cynthia Cronenberg and decides to win her heart. To get her attention, he decides to join a fraternity along with J.C. Their first mission is to steal a corpse and place it outside of one of the rival fraternities. And what will happen next will trigger a horrific chain of events.
Not so subtle and at times quite cheesy and heavy-handed, Night of the Creeps is not a perfect movie. It just tries to do too much in ninety minutes. However, it’s charming enough to get away with it. Tom Atkins was a force of nature as the tough chain-smoking whiskey-drinking detective with the past haunting him. I also like that one of the main characters, J.C. is using crutches, something that was quite rare back then. Although I do have to notice that there aren’t many people of color in the cast. And that’s something that was quite common back then.
All that aside, since this is one of the more overlooked eighties horror-comedies, I recommend you check it out. And if you want more guts and glory, take a look at Night of the Demons or Demons from 1985. I also have to mention Slither, a more recent horror comedy featuring similarly nasty slug-like creatures.
Director: Fred Dekker
Writer: Fred Dekker
Cast: Jason Lively, Tom Atkins, Steve Marshall, Jill Whitlow, Bruce Solomon, David Paymer, Allan Kayser
Fun Facts: The movie the house mother is watching on TV is Plan 9 from Outer Space (1957).