Night of the Creeps (1986) – Review

4 Stars

Here is a clever B-movie that was all but overlooked in its theatrical run, resurrected from the annals of box-office bomb infamy and given new life as a cult favorite on the burgeoning home-video format. I must admit it has taken me 18 years to catch up with this terrific genre send-up, that plays like a mix between Brian DePalma’s work and the lunacy of Jerry Zucker’s spoof flicks. From the opening shot of nasty little space creatures engaged in a laser rifle battle to the closing shot of a walking burnt corpse smoking a cigarette, Night of the Creeps expertly straddles the line between satire and stylish in a graphic low-budget way. Director/writer Fred Dekker has the proper comic touch for effective tongue-in-cheek humor that blends well with his horror fantasy.

Slimy extraterrestrial creatures incubate their eggs in human brains, turning their hosts into zombies. Heartbroken college freshman Chris Romero (Jason Lively), all the kids have famous last names, and his best friend J.C. are enamored with the most beautiful girl in school, Cynthia (Jill Whitlow). Unfortunately she is dating the head of the most obnoxious frat on campus. In the midst of this courtship comes an escaped corpse ripe with slug like creatures hungry for living bodies. After a rush-week prank goes awry, detective Cameron (a fantastic Tom Atkins) is assigned to the case, he has a feeling that the dead-man walking is an enemy from the past.

All of these elements gel in this offbeat feature, which showcases Atkins as the Raymond Chandler loving flat-foot, he resembles Dennis Farnia and projects the same no B.S. attitude on-screen. The teenage characters are less interesting, but the witty writing and self parody keep these scenes from dragging the movie down. Cult movies are a curious thing, I’m positive most filmmakers don’t set out to make a feature that is seen by few and loved passionately by even fewer, but that seems to be the case with this humorous little creature feature. If you are still on the fence after reading this review, the enclosed dialgoue exchange should clarify if this is your kind of movie.

Detective Cameron: “I got good news and bad news, girls. The good news is your dates are here.”
Sorority Sister: “What’s the bad news?”
Detective Cameron: “They’re dead.”

Director: Fred Dekker
Stars: Jason Lively, Tom Atkins, Jill Whitlow

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