Nerdling Tales takes a (mostly spoiler free) look at cult classics mostly overlooked by the public, movies that failed so hard they won, and the “what in the hell were they thinking” flicks. Join her as she reminisces about what makes these movies so interesting and full of hopeful sequel potential, and yet the general movie going population tends to forget their existence.
First up, the 80’s horror comedy starring one of the many Rusty Griswolds, Night of the Creeps.
Released: August 22, 1986
Director: Fred Dekker
Writer: Fred Dekker
Stars: Jason Lively, Steve Marshall, Jill Whitlow, Tom Atkins
Just so you guys know, watch the Directors Cut of the movie. For the most part, everything is the same except the ending. The ending sets up a sequel that sadly never happened, but it is a better ending than the Theatrical Cut.
Horror is an interesting genre. With movie making in general, there is always a thin line between greatness and absolute fail. With horror, it seems like that line is so small, almost no director can see it and that leaves all those movies just one scene or line away from falling on one side of the line or the other. One of the best ways to combat that line is to be completely self-aware, but not be a total parody. That is why we love movies like Slither, the first Scary Movie, and Cabin in the Woods. Those movies are made with a wink and a smile, but they told an overall and engaging story. Night of the Creeps did it first (I think) and did it the best. The Scary Movie sequels, several of the other wannabe spoofs, and the super horrible PG-13 jump scare crappiness have no clue what self-awareness looks like. They are usually too busy trying to prove to you how smart and original they are. We all tend to forget them not long after we leave the theater.
Night of the Creeps has it all starting with the creepiest aliens you will ever see, then transitions over to a black and white classic slasher movie set up complete with college co-eds. Then it becomes a creepy crawly flick and then a zombie movie. Hell, even the whole craziness starts to go down because of a college prank gone badly. Frankly it manages to touch on all of the popular 80’s sub-genre horror movies and their clichés, sprinkles in some Mickey Spillane hard-boiled cop noire, a dash of humor here and there, throws it all into a mixer and bakes us a crazy awesome cake with a light topless scene icing.
All of the archetypes are present. The geeky, love sick hero, his sarcastic side kick, the asshole jock and his fraternity buddies, the sweet girl our geeky hero falls for, the haunted cop, the one smart sorority sister, and the swarm of slutty sorority sisters (try saying that five times fast). For added fun, all the names of people and places are tribes to directors. Side note – A good drinking game could be developed around name that director’s famous movie(s). Someone get to work on that!
There were some comparisons to this movie when Slither first came out. They both are self-aware and have a bunch of wormy alien things taking over people and making them zombie like, but for the most part they are two very different movies. Creeps is a silly movie filled with every horror movie cliché and a side of serious blood and action. Slither is a seriously good horror movie with a side of humor. Both Dekker and James Gunn (writer/director of Slither) cite the David Cronenberg horror movie Shivers, which is about a STD like parasite that causes the people it infects to go crazy then die, as influences over their movies.
I don’t want to give away too much of the fun by explaining to you what all makes this movie great, just take my word for it and go and find it. It is available to rent on Amazon streaming, Google Play, and VUDU. It is also available for free on Crackle. I think all of these are going to be the theatrical version though.
If you have seen Night of the Creeps I wanna hear from you in the comments section. Thrill me with what you loved about the movie. Be sure to use a SPOILER tag for those who have not seen it.