Halloween Every Day (for a Month)
By Andrew Neil Cole
Day 8: Night of the Creeps (1986).
Normally, I have a real problem with movies made by extreme fanboys. These movies are inspired by, informed by, and replete with references to other people’s movies. The lack of originality is often startling. Rather than tell stories derived from experience, intellect, and good old-fashioned creativity, these guys do little more than make cinematic Xeroxes of their all-time faves. This kind of filmmaking exemplifies homage, not art. And yet, Night of the Creeps is one fanboy film I find simply irresistible.
Writer/director/fanboy Fred Dekker does absolutely nothing new with Night of the Creeps; he even names all of his characters after famous horror directors (Cynthia Cronenberg, Ray Cameron, Chris Romero, and, my personal favorite, James Carpenter-Hooper). But if you like horror, particularly old-school horror, Creeps is for you. The story: alien slugs infiltrate a college campus and turn people into zombies. Along the way we meet a couple of wisecracking nerds, a beautiful but soulful sorority goddess, a group of knuckle-dragging frat boys, and the most butt-kickingest cop ever to walk a beat, played by genre favorite Tom “Thrill me!” Atkins. Creeps crash-landed at the box office with a booming thud and quickly disappeared into the shadowy netherworld of B-movie oblivion after its original release in the summer of 1986. It has had a much-deserved resurgence as a cult hit in recent years. I’m glad that a new generation of fans is starting to find this movie. It may not be deep or subversive or socially relevant (or worthy of comprehensive deconstruction in this post), but who cares? Chilly October nights are tailor-made for movies like this.