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Night of the Creeps (1986)

by on January 19, 2011
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Thrill me.

Those are the first words uttered by Tom Atkins’ Detective Ray Cameron in Fred Dekker’s “Night of the Creeps” and what I wanted the film itself to do to me. Did it succeed in its job? You’ll have to keep reading to find out.

The film starts charmingly enough as two aliens attempt to prevent a third from releasing an experiment into space in 1959. Unfortunately they don’t succeed, and the canister comes crashing down on good ol’ plant Earth. An unsuspecting college couple sees the canister and mistakes it for a falling star. As the boy investigates and gets infected by slug-like creatures, his girlfriend is hacked to death by an escaped mental patient. Naturally, right?

Fast forward to 1986.

When two college geeks, Chris (Jason Lively) and J.C. (Steve Marshall), attempt to pledge a fraternity so one can impress a girl, the two unleash the boy from 1959 — who has been cryogenically frozen — during their prank and in turn unleashes the parasites across the campus. Shortly after, we’re introduced to Detective Cameron, a grisly veteran with enough awesome one-liners they would make Henny Youngman proud.

As a few new walking dead begin popping up, Cameron recounts the night when he discovered his high school sweetheart being hacked to death and how he killed the man and buried him where the House Mother’s cottage is. It just so happens to be the cottage next to Chris’ love Cynthia’s (Jill Whitlow) sorority house.

Eventually, J.C. gets infect by one of the parasites and leaves a recording for Chris that flames will kill the creatures after he disposes of one with a lighted match cover.

In the meantime, Cameron gets a call informing him that the house mother has been found dead, killed by an ax wielding corpse, the very same corpse he buried in 1959. They cops track down the killer and when sidearm shots do no good, Cameron takes off his head with a shotgun, releasing more of the little creepy crawlies.

Chris visits Cameron and tells him about flames having the ability to kill the creatures and the two head out for the police station armory for a flamethrower — naturally. Once at the sorority, Chris enlists Cynthia to man the flamethrower and they proceed to take down a bus load of infected frat boys. At the same time, Cameron locates a tangled mass of the creatures in the basement of the sorority and disposes of those with gasoline.

The film ends with a few creatures slithering into a cemetery followed by a spacecraft with search lights looking for them.

As far as Schlock goes, this movie had a bunch of oozy goodness to cover. A lot of nice blood, some obvious string work on the slugs, nudity and not the best performances in the world. However, the effects overall are really nice and the string work on the slugs give them a nice creep factor modern day CGI would have lacked.

I’m a big fan of Atkins and to say this was my first time watching this film almost embarrasses me. This is by far one of my favorite of his performances because it’s easy to see how fun this character would have been to portray. His take on a two-fisted, cigarette smoking detective is spot on perfect.

I loved the cross blending of genres. You’ve got aliens, you’ve got zombies, you’ve got a love story — it’s a tasty horror-ific sci-fi gumbo that works. Dekker creates a perfect homage to the movies he grew up loving and it’s that love of the genre that makes “Night of the Creeps” a definite must watch.

4.5 out of 5 Yaps