Fred Dekker’s 1986 horror-comedy Night Of The Creeps had the curious distinction of being simultaneously anachronistic and ahead of its time. By the mid-’80s, the heyday of campy, drive-in-ready B-movies about square young men battling creepy-crawlies from another world while trying to muster up the courage to ask their gals to the big dance had long passed. But the winking meta-commentary of Scream and Hot Fuzz wasn’t yet in vogue. Like Dekker’s simpatico next film, The Monster Squad, Creeps picked up a cult following, but that must be cold comfort to its writer-director, who hasn’t made a film since 1993’s RoboCop 3.
Fresh off the success of European Vacation, the blandly affable Jason Lively plays a geeky college student who pledges to a frat in a desperate attempt to impress dreamy Jill Whitlow. In the process, Lively and sidekick Steve Marshall end up unleashing a sinister entity that transforms people into incubators for sinister slug-like creatures from outer space. Veteran character actor Tom Atkins receives the full iconic treatment as a hard-drinking, memory-haunted detective with a personal connection to the alien invaders.
In a featurette included in the Night Of The Creeps director’s-cut DVD, Dekker talks about how he got to include just about everything he loved in his first film—space aliens, zombies, spaceships, a tough cop with secrets, gratuitous sorority-house nudity, comedy, and a climax that finds the geek hero taking out alien-infested frat boys with a giant flamethrower. Night Of The Creeps has all the ingredients of a top-notch cult movie, yet Dekker too often ends up recycling clichés rather than subverting or spoofing them. Of the cast, only Atkins has the charisma to transcend broad caricature. Unlike just about every recent remake of an ’80s horror movie, Night Of The Creeps lends itself to being revisited by contemporary filmmakers, since it boasts such a great premise, yet realizes so little of its boundless potential.
Key features: Separate audio commentaries from Dekker and the cast, deleted scenes, an alternate ending, and a battery of behind-the-scenes featurettes.