The Horror Honeys: ZOMBIES, EXPLODING HEADS, CREEPY-CRAWLIES, AND A DATE FOR THE FORMAL!

ZOMBIES, EXPLODING HEADS, CREEPY-CRAWLIES, AND A DATE FOR THE FORMAL!

A Sci-Fi Honey Classic Review by Katie

Night of the Creeps (1986)

Every so often a horror film from your childhood comes back into your life, like a worn out old teddy bear that’s terrifyingly missing one eye but still brings you comfort in some way.  I recently discovered that this film, for me, is Fred Dekker’s 1986 sci-fi/horror classic, Night of the Creeps.  Since this movie was part of our home collection by recording it off TV on some unlabeled VHS cassette, for years I didn’t know what the movie was actually called or where it came from; I simply referred to it as “that alien slug movie.”  Fast forward 23 years after the VHS release and Sony decided to put it out on DVD, prompting my rediscovery of the film and sweet childhood memories of being afraid of alien slugs attacking me in public restrooms (but let’s be real, who is NOT afraid of that...?).  Dekker’s film holds up as a delightfully slimy and screwball horror hodgepodge served with a side of 1980’s cheese.

Night of the Creeps opens in a spaceship with a horde of hell-ariously naked extraterrestrials (what actually appears to be little people in rubber alien costumes), one of which is going rogue and throwing a capsule containing creepy black slug-like organisms into the void of deep space.  The capsule eventually lands on Earth and the escaped space slugs begin to systematically slip into the mouths of humans, cats, dogs, and anything else it can infect, re-animating corpses and causing all-around parasitic chaos.  Combating these creatures are college kids Chris, J.C., and Cynthia, as well as Tom Atkins in one of his most quotable roles as Detective Ray Cameron, using everything in their power from lawnmowers to flame throwers to eradicate the pesky space species.


Which reminds me, I should get me one of those.
For this Sci-Fi Honey, who enjoys nearly every subgenre that horror has to offer, Night of the Creeps is a delightful terror-soup that will tickle the taste buds of a wide variety of fans.  While the opening scene is set in space and the contaminated slugs originate from an alien experiment gone awry, this “sci-fi/horror” film ventures into territories as diverse as slasher flick (axe murderer attacks heavy-petters on Lover’s Lane), zombie movie (resurrection of the dead), and B-movie creature feature (ooey-gooey slimy ones, at that).  Dekker playfully incorporates references to other famed movies in these subgenres, from Night of the Living Dead to Plan 9 from Outer Space.  The film also includes nods to legendary filmmakers through every single surname of a major character in the story – Romero, Carpenter, Hooper, Cronenberg, Cameron, Landis, Raimi, and Miner – making it easy for a purist fan of the genre to acknowledge and appreciate a salute to our horror heroes.  Night of the Creeps is even set at Corman University, which in name alone makes it the most badass fictional college ever.

Just a couple of college kids named Lucio Craven and Dario Hitchcock.    
Despite the laughable alien set pieces from the opening scene, Creeps has a lot going for it that makes it enjoyable even in areas where it’s lacking.  The screenplay is marvelously clever at making sure the audience knows that the characters know exactly the kind of film they’re in (“What is this? A homicide, or a bad B-movie?” …“Frankly, I'd rather have my brains invaded by creatures from outer space than pledge a fraternity”), and there’s even a character who uses the “zed-word,” which is unheard of in a film depicting zombies of any kind.  If you lose yourself to the world of the film, which seems to exist inside of its own tongue-in-cheek reverence for exploitation and b-movie culture, you can forgive some overused horror devices (yes, there is a jump scare involving a cat) or eye-rollingly cheesy one-liners.

...and did I mention the naked aliens?!
Night of the Creeps pays homage to many horror films that came before it, but as it rose to cult classic status in the last few decades, it also became influential in its own right – most obviously in James Gunn’s Slither (2006).  But where did Dekker go?  Following up Creeps with an equally awesome feature in 1987’s The Monster Squad (required annual Halloween-season viewing), Dekker seemed ready for big-budget Hollywood swagger with his next project, helming the third installment in the popular RoboCop series.  Upon release, however, RoboCop 3 was ceremoniously derided as one of the worst films of the year, and Dekker spent his remaining years in show business languishing as a short-lived producer on Star Trek: Enterprise.  Re-watching Night of the Creeps today, it’s undeniable that Dekker showed some major promise once up on a time; the exciting recent news that he is slated to direct the Predator reboot has him poised for a long-overdue sci-fi/horror rebirth.  C’mon back to us, Fred – and in the words of Detective Cameron: “thrill me!”


Sci-Fi Honey Rating: Four slithering slimy space slugs out of five.