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Friday, November 16, 2012

Day 321: Night Of The Creeps

Night Of The Creeps
Aw, I thought this was "Night Of The Crepes"

Everyone loves a good B-movie. We all have a favorite, whether it's Killer Klowns From Outer Space or Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes or Leprechaun In The Hood. There's just something fun about a movie that isn't quite on the same level as something coming from a major studio. It's the lower budgets, the it's the questionable stories, and the the mediocre acting. B-movies take more risks, mostly because they have to. Sometimes we get gems, sometimes we get bombs, and sometimes we get movies that are so bad that they're good. One movie in the 1980's took our love of B-movies and created an homage to the genre by becoming a B-movie itself.

Night Of The Creeps is a 1986 science-fiction zombie movie starring Jason Lively (National Lampoon's European Vacation, Brainstorm) as Chris Romero and Tom Atkins (Creepshow, Maniac Cop) as Detective Ray Cameron. In 1959, an alien aboard a spaceship releases a canister that crashes on Earth. A boy out on a date with his girl comes across the canister just as an escaped mental patient attacks her. Inside the canister is a strange leech-like creature that leaps into his mouth, turning him into a zombie. 28 years later, Chris Romero and his friend James Carpenter “J.C.” Hooper (Steve Marshall, 21 Jump Street, Justice Denied) attend a frat party at Corman University. Chris is smitten with a sorority girl named Cynthia Cronenberg (Jill Whitlow, Twice Dead, Porky's) but is too shy to speak to her. Convinced she'd only be interested in a frat guy, Chris and J.C. Try to pledge with the Phi Omega Gamma. As part of their initiation, both have to bring a cadaver back from a local medical center. Once inside, the boys release a corpse, the boy from 1959, from it's chamber. A doctor catches them and they flee back to their dorm. Detective Ray Cameron, a surly, jaded police officer, investigates and discovers that the corpse is actually missing. The missing body makes it's way to Cynthia's sorority where it's head splits open, releasing the alien leeches. The leeches begin to infect people, turning them into murderous zombies. J.C discovers that fire can kill them, but is soon infected himself. Will Chris be able to stop the zombies and save Cynthia and how does Detective Cameron fit in to the original incident in 1959?

Everyone remembers prom night

This movie sets out to be an homage to B-movies and accomplishes it's goal. It's a silly horror/sci-fi romp with plenty of over-the-top action and snappy one-liners. It's funny watching this movie after seeing Slither because there are some blatant similarities. Alien leeches? Check. Infecting through the mouth? Check. Zombies? Check. Regardless, Night Of The Creeps revels in it's B-movieness as it is full of love for the genre. There are plenty of references throughout, some more obvious than others. A quick look at the list of characters reveals names such as Romero, Carpenter, Cronenberg, Corman, Landis, and Raimi. Certain scenes are reminiscent of other horror movies as well. The difference between this homage to horror movies and, say, Hack!, is that the references aren't thrown in the audience's face. I never felt like I was being bludgeoned over the head with references. The story progresses without having to stop every few minutes to give a nod to another famous horror movie.

We get a decent amount of action throughout the movie and the final battle, complete with Cynthia holding a flamethrower while in her formal dress, is highly entertaining. The zombies look decent, just right for that specific B-movie quality. Tom Atkins, the perennial cop, plays his role unsurprisingly well. He's extra surly, giving snappy, sarcastic answers to stupid questions. Some lines are funny, while a few do fall flat. One scene where he shouts, “It's Miller Time!” is funny for it's initial purpose, but also because it's so dated. It's like seeing a movie ten years from now where some shouts “Just Do It!” Even non-horror aficionados will get some laughs out of the movie, though there's no real gut-busting hilarity. 

He's still having a great hair day, though

Night Of The Creeps is one big love letter to the wonderful world of B-movies. From the characters to the plot, the movie is like an old blanket. It's nothing new and may not impress, but it's still enjoyable nonetheless. The story is decent and gets to the point quickly. The aliens in the beginning are a little funny looking, but they're only around for a minute or too, so it's not a big deal. I guess that's the point, anyway. The movie has it's funny moments, but can feel dates at times. Some jokes do fall flat, but nothing bad enough to send the movie off the rails. The action is good and the zombies have that classic B-movie look to them. Tom Atkins is highly enjoyable as always. While not the best known horror movie from the 80's, Night Of The Creeps is worth searching out.


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