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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Retro Video- Night Of The Creeps

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This is one of my favorite 80's movie as well as one of my favorite movies of all time. I saw this not long after it came out on VHS because I thought the cover art was amazing. I really wish they had carried it over to the new directors cut DVD but beggars can't be choosers.
I was just happy it got the DVD release it rightfully deserved. This film was written and directed by Fred Dekker who went on to do The Monster Squad after this and did the screenplay for House before. A lot of people say he took this idea from Shivers but to me, aside from the slugs, it is it's own movie. I do agree with the idea though that Night Of The Creeps directly inspired Slither. The star of this film without a doubt is the great Tom Atkins, one of the genre's greatest actors. He had some of the best one liners of any horror comedy. Here is the synopsis:

On board an alien space ship, two aliens feverishly race to keep an experiment from being released. But it is too late and the seemingly possessed third alien they are pursuing has shot the canister into space where it crashes to Earth in 1959. On this night a young college man takes a date to a parking spot where they see a falling star and investigate. Unfortunately, it lands in the path of an escaped criminally insane mental patient. As his date falls victim to the axe-wielding maniac, the boy finds the canister, from which a small leech-like thing jumps out at him and into his mouth.

Cut to 1986. Chris Romero is pining over a love lost, being supported by his handicapped friend J.C. At pledge week, Chris spots a girl, Cynthia Cronenberg, and seems to fall instantly in love. To get her attention, he decides that he must join a fraternity. As a part of their pledge (which is pointless as the frat leader, who is dating Cynthia, has no intentions of letting them join), they must steal a cadaver from the university medical center and place it on the steps of the Phi Omega Gamma house. Chris and J.C. find one in a top secret room that is being kept in a state of suspended animation, but when it grabs one of their arms as they try to move it, they chicken out and run back to their dorm room. Meanwhile, Detective Ray Cameron, a cop that dated the girl killed back in '59 and is haunted by the memories of what he found that night, is called in to the cryogenics lab break-in where there are two bodies - but one missing. The missing body is the one released from its cryogenics tomb, which also happened to be the same boy who found the alien experiment back in 1959. This missing body makes its way back to the same sorority house where he picked up his date 27 years earlier. Evidently residing in the room where his murdered date lived, the walking corpse comes to Cynthia's window where his head splits open and more of the leech creatures fall out and slither across the ground. Called to the scene, Ray finds the body with a large open wound in the face, similar to one that could have been made by an axe.

The next day, Chris and J.C. are confronted by the frat brothers, upset over the fact that they believe they are responsible for the previous night's incident. After surviving their encounter, they are then taken in for questioning by the police. Based on the testimony of a janitor that witnessed them running out of university medical center, "screaming like banshees," they confess to breaking in, but deny taking the corpse out. That night, the attendant found dead gets up from his slab and runs into the same janitor.

After the dead and buried cat of one of the sorority sisters comes back, Cynthia confesses it to Chris and J.C. and goes on about the dead body found at the sorority house. Although both are skeptical of her story about them being zombies, J.C. sees that she is leaning on Chris' shoulder, and leaves the two alone to go to the bathroom, where the now-possessed janitor enters and lets loose more of the slugs.

As Chris walks Cynthia back to the sorority house, he runs into Cameron who has overheard the entire story. Back at Ray's home, the two talk about their high school sweethearts. Ray's is more elaborate as he goes on about how they broke up and he became a cop and how he was called out to the site where she had been hacked up by a lunatic. He goes on to tell of how he tracked down the escaped patient, killed him and buried him... in the same spot on which the House Mother's cottage now sits. Just then, Ray gets a call where the House Mother has been hacked up to death by the axe-wielding corpse that broke in through the floor. The killer is finally tracked down and cornered by the police, but numerous gunshots have no effect. Cameron then takes his shotgun and blows its head off, which releases more of the little creeps.

Of course I will never spoil an ending so you just have to watch it for yourself. I will tell you there are two different endings and the new DVD release finally restores the original which is the one Dekker intended. My favorite aspect of the film is how Dekker gave a nod to all the great writers, directors, and actors of the genre before him by somehow naming his characters after them. For example, J.C.'s full name is John Carpenter Hooper. Dekker has expressed an interest in doing a sequel and I really hope that comes to fruition. I give this movie a 10/10 and think it is required viewing for any serious fan of horror.