After spending years out of print, it’s good to see Fred Dekker’s eighties horror classics finally being given the special treatment that they deserve. For fans of the 1986 “Night of the Creeps,” they’ll be happy to know that Dekker’s zombie comedy hasn’t aged much at all. While it’s very much of its time, it still allows for an accessible and very interesting mix of horror, science fiction, coming of age, and romance that’s tough to beat. Plus, there’s Tom Atkins who is just downright fun in the role of detective Ray Cameron.
In the fifties, a space ship landed on Earth releasing brain eating alien slugs that were trapped in the brain of its victim for decades. Now in the eighties, as a frat hazing, two college freshmen Chris and JC break in to a local lab in a mission to steal an experimental body. After accidentally leaving it behind, it awakens and unleashes a horde of brain eating alien slugs that turns its hosts in to zombies. Now with the town’s folks becoming zombies, Chris, and sorority girl Christina have to face them down, alongside alcoholic detective Ray Cameron who is still haunted by the loss of his high school love.
“Night of the Creeps” is still a classic party film filled with so much sharp dialogue and hilarious gallow’s humor. Everything here is played for enough tension where audiences will have a good laugh, but be surprisingly tense at what unfolds. While Dekker doesn’t deliver on the classic brain eating zombies, he rethinks the formula in the vein of “Return of the Living Dead” where the slugs use its hosts’ corpses. This results in a ton of mangled monsters that creep and lurk in every corner. Dekker realizes this concept as much as he possibly can within the budget, delivering some brutally creepy scenes, some very funny gross out gags with the slugs, and a classic zombie siege that unfolds right in the middle of a college campus in the climax.
The effects are still dynamic, especially with the way Dekker’s script punishes irresponsibility left and right resulting in some gruesome gore. There’s also a surprising amount of heart, as Dekker channels John Hughes as much as possible allowing for some deaths that might just touch you, in the end.
“Night of the Creeps” is an eighties classic that deserves so much more love than it gets, and I’m glad some fans might be able to discover it on Blu-Ray. Fans will be pleased to know that this new edition comes with the Theatrical Cut (Disc One) and the two minute longer Director’s Cut (Disc Two). The latter of the pair is infinitely superior, as it ends on a bleaker note. While the theatrical cut is kind of one last gag, the director’s cut props up a much more epic final note, and even leaves the door open for a sequel that, sadly, never arrived. The first time I ever saw the Director’s Cut ending on television, it blew my mind and I wanted to see what was next in this narrative. I wish Dekker would have been allowed to give us a follow up. There was so much goddamn potential.
On Disc One there’s the excellent “Thrill Me! – The Making of Night of the Creeps“: a 2009 documentary that explores the conception, making of, and reception of Dekker’s horror comedy. It’s broken in to five chapters at almost twelve minutes a piece. The “Tom Atkins – Man of Action” Featurette is a twenty minute spotlight of the famed character actor whose career spans many decades and genres, as he discusses his career, climb to fame, and encounter with weird fans. There are eight minutes of deleted scenes, and the original theatrical trailer for the film. Disc Two features an audio commentary from writer/director Fred Dekker, and another audio commentary with Actors Tom Atkins, Jason Lively, Steve Marshall and Jill Whitlow. The new “Real Good Plan” is a ten minute interview with star Jason Lively who discusses his audition process for the film, his bonding with the cast and Dekker, and the film’s legacy despite its poor box office.
“The Bradster” is a new seven minute interview with protagonist Alan Kayser who discusses his role as the film’s bully, and how he hated his white contact lenses. “I Vote for That One” is a new ten minute interview with actor Ken Heron the first victim of the creeps, while the new “Worst Coroner Ever” is a fun interview with actor Vic Polizos who discusses working with Dekker, his chronic headaches and working on “St, Elsewhere” during the day and on the film during the night. The new “Answering the Door” is a great four minute interview with actress Suzanne Snyder who discusses delivery of her famous line, her love of horror movies, and trying to get the most out of her small role. The new “Final Cut,” an interview with great editor Michael K. Knue who discusses balancing horror and comedy, and working with Dekker and Atkins. Finally, there’s the all new eleven minute “Horror’s Hallowed Grounds,” another classic episode that thoroughly looks at, and visits most of the locations for “Night of the Creeps.” Clark is joined mid-way by none other than Atkins and star Jason Lively.