Saturday, January 03, 2009

Night of the Creeps

Title: Night of the Creeps (1986)
Dir: Fred Dekker
Rating: *** out of 5 stars

It is hard to fully appreciate a film like Night of the Creeps when you see it twenty years too late. Not having grown up on it, I can't say I love it, but it does have some great, campy parts. Perhaps it'll grow on me more over time (I hope so).

Chris and JC are your average college dorks. When Chris falls for a pretty sorority girl named Cindy, he decides the best way to impress her is to join a fraternity. The frat brothers, wishing to humiliate the boys, tell them to pull a rush prank by stealing a corpse and placing it at another frat house. In their effort to do so, they unwittingly defrost a cryogenically-frozen body from the 1950s and unleash a slew of alien worms held within it. The parasitic worms nest in the brain of a human while their host walks around like a zombie, looking for more people to infect. Now the protagonists, with the help of a weathered detective, must battle the slithering menace as it attempts to take over the whole campus.

The beginning moves along pretty slowly before the worms show up. Here the humor is more akin to an 80's sex comedy than a horror-comedy. I was a little bored at the start, but the last half-hour or so is good stuff. Robert Kurtzman and Howard Berger (of KNB EFX) provided the makeup FX which are simple but still awesome (as always with KNB).

Creeps boasts some memorable lines - ranging from clever ("Good news is your dates are here...") to hilariously absurd ("It's Miller time!"). As the detective, Tom Atkins is pretty funny and gives the film most of its campy charm. One nerdy thing I do love about this film is the character names, like Chris Romero, James Carpenter Hooper, Cindy Cronenberg, Det. Cameron, Det. Landis, and Det. Raimi. Seeing a pattern? It's so obvious, but I love it!

There are two versions of the ending, and I actually liked them both. The more popular "zombie dog" ending is definitely a nice, simple way to wrap up the movie, but the alternate cemetary ending is great, also (minus the spaceship). It sees the return of a beloved character and it is very Return of the Living Dead-esque, which is probably why I liked it so much. Both are worth watching if you are able.

Like I said, this film will probably grow on me more with time. I can see why it's a cult classic, but it did not immediately grab me like some other 80s horror-comedies I saw a decade or two late (ie, RotLD, Re-Animator).