Night of the Creeps, 1986
directed by Fred Dekker
starring Jason Lively, Steve Marshall, Tom Atkins
Perfectly blending together several aspects of multiple genres, Night of the Creeps ends up being a very fun, campy, multi-genre romp that can be enjoyed by many varied audiences. The film starts with science fiction, showing an alien spaceship fighting to keep control and possession of an experimental member of the crew, but it ultimately escapes and plummets to Earth. From there, we see the horror themes start with two college aged kids seeing the projectile land nearby and proceeding to investigate. When the arrive, slug-like creatures shoot into the body of victims and make them zombie-like creatures. For safe measure, intertwined with all of this is a chain-smoking, whiskey-drinking Tom Atkins (Lethal Weapon), who is investigating a local case involving a mental institution escape.
Everything comes together nicely, with exploding zombies, tongue-in-cheek and self-referential dialogue, and all the fun a self-aware B-horror movie should have. Night of the Creeps has a good number of creative and clever moments, but it’s not a horror-comedy that brings satire through a change of perspective. While the movie is indeed described by the director as a homage and collection of B-movie cliches, a lot of the movie is solely referential rather than parody. For horror and sci-fi nerds it’s an absolutely delight, for broader audiences, a lot of the movie won’t be quite as effective. That being said, the movie is still very broadly enjoyable, and even if you don’t pick up on every little reference it’s still a lot of fun.
Night of the Creeps is like a fun little time machine, even the start of the movie that takes place in the 50s is presented in glorious black and white. The music is time-appropriate as well, as it is when the movie vaults forward to the 80s. Atkins is the best of the cast, which is decent but not one of the better aspects of the film. If anything, the two “leads” of Jason Lively and Jill Whitlow I found to be serviceable, but a little underwhelming. The cheesy and gory makeup effects are a delight, and while things start perhaps a little slow, the finish to the movie is brisk, blood-filled ride. Throw in some funny lines and gas, and all together Night of the Creeps is the kind of movie any horror nerd would really enjoy.