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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Night of the Creeps (1986)

I’ve always debated if this is a zombie movie or an alien invasion movie. I mean the alien parasites are the reason that the bodies reanimate, but they are dead people walking around. The debates that I’ve had with friends over this have been long and occasionally heated. As I look back on my life I realize I’ve wasted a lot of time on stupid shit! But enough with the retrospection, since this is my blog I’ve decided to include Night of the Creeps in my zombie movie marathon.

Things kick off in the glorious ‘50s as a canister is released from an alien ship and falls to Earth. It crashes in the woods and is found by a cool guy who is on a date with a lovely sorority girl. At the same time a nut job has escaped from an asylum and is on the loose with an axe. The guy is attacked by what is in the canister and the girl is killed by the axe murder. Both of these things play a big part years later when the rest of the movie occurs.

Flash forward to 1986 as we are now introduced to our main characters, JC and Chris, a pair of “dorky” college students. After Chris sees a girl named Cindy and is immediately smitten the guys pledge a fraternity to impress her. This gets them set on a prank to steal a body and leave it on another fraternity’s lawn. Sure enough they steal the body of the cool guy from earlier. It has been on ice for all these years and when it thaws the alien parasites get loose and start to kill and reanimate their victims! This brings the police and detective Cameron in on the case to investigate the missing body. Remember the girl that was with the cool guy from earlier? Well Cameron is the jilted boyfriend who as a patrolman found the axe murder standing over her body. Let’s just say that the killer didn’t make it to a jail cell. Of course, the parasites find the body and now we have a zombie axe murderer! This movie is awesome.

Night of the Creeps is a classic that like director Fred Dekker’s other horror movie, Monster Squad, took way too long to reach a legit DVD/Blu-Ray release. The pacing is great as Dekker manages to navigate the flashbacks without slowing the action down. The action jumps between two points twenty-seven years apart without getting confusing. I’ve seen that butchered far too many times not to appreciate it when it is done well. The characters are likeable, especially JC and Chris. Spoiler Alert! The tape that JC leaves Chris after he is infected is surprisingly emotional and heartbreaking. How many ‘80s horror movies have a male character tell another one that he loves him without cracking some gay joke? This is good writing and provides the movie an emotional kick in the pants.

Tom Atkins is awesome!
But it isn’t all serious here. Tom Atkins is killing it again in a horror movie, this time playing the older Detective Cameron. It is clear that he hasn’t ever gotten over his sweetheart’s death and his actions after the fact. He covers this up with a gruff exterior and starts every conversation with the catch phrase “Thrill me”. But when he has to put the zombie axe killer down again it breaks him. Pay close attention when Chris comes to him for help. He has the door taped up and a lot of fans think it is to keep the slug like aliens out. But before he leaves he turns off the gas stove in the kitchen… Yeah, he was killing himself! These characters and script are so damn good.

The special effects work is solid. The zombies look great, the slugs coming in and out of people are a terrifying effect, and we get blood sprayed liberally around. Hell, we get to see a sorority girl wielding a flamethrower. Don’t see that every day. There is even a bit with a crispy Tom Atkins lighting a cigarette and a zombie dog. Depending on the ending that you watch one of these becomes a big deal. Yes, there is a theatrical and television ending that are different. This was a point of confusion for many years. Both are cool so don’t worry about which you choose to watch and either way this is a must watch for horror fans. I highly recommend this one.

© Copyright 2017 John Shatzer

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