Friday, February 15, 2013

Film Review: Night of the Creeps

Save for the Universal and Hammer classics, I’m not a huge fan of the horror genre. But, for whatever reason, several weeks ago I found myself watching Night of the Creeps from 1986. And, while I almost always avoid modern horror like the plague, sometimes a good cheesy scary flick from the ‘80s can be fun, and Creeps did not disappoint.

First of all, there seemed to be a trend in the ‘80s to mix horror with comedy, and Night of the Creeps does this effectively. In fact, this may be more of a comedy than an outright horror film, with some elements of sci-fi thrown in for good measure. Without giving too much away, the opening scene, taking place on an alien spacecraft, is very funny! This scene is short, and is about as “sci-fi” as the film gets. The movie then shifts to 1959 (presented effectively in black and white), before moving to the main story set in the mid-1980s (returning to color). The plot involves “creeps” (little slug like space creatures) that attach themselves to a host body and turn their victims into zombie like creatures who then try to kill other people. Yes, you read that plot description right. Oh, there’s also an escaped asylum patient with an ax, who makes an appearance during the 50s sequence, as well as in zombie form in the 80s portion.

Basically, this is just your standard horror comedy with elements of science fiction featuring aliens, mutant slugs, zombies and college students fare.

And because this is a ‘80s movie featuring college kids, there is a fair share of partying and a bit of nudity (I think it was a requirement for most “teen” films in the ‘80s…I envision some studio executive reading the scripts and then exclaiming, “I know what this picture needs: more boobs!”). The nudity is pointless and brief, and very typical of the era. In addition to this, there’s some random cursing, so better not watch this one with the kids around. There is also some over-the-top gore, but it’s so cheesy and all done in good fun, which made it hard to get offended. Let’s just say special effects have come a long way since 1986, but that adds to the charm and fun of the movie.

There are clichéd characters in this one; the college kids featuring nerds and mindless jocks, the washed up cop with a lot of emotional baggage (played very well by Tom Atkins), and of course, the pretty girl all the boys like. It’s hokey in parts, but to be fair, it was the point. And, unlike many modern horror movies, this film is not mean spirited and is certainly not taking itself too seriously. The bottom line is, I like this film probably more than I should, and give it a rating of 3.5 out 5. If you’re in the mood to revisit the ‘80s, then give Night of the Creeps a try.

Two side notes: There’s a reference to Christian glam rock band Stryper that I thought was very funny and really dated this picture! Also, the music during the 50s portion of the movie was great!

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