NIGHT OF THE CREEPS (DC)
Reviewed by: JimmyO
What's it about
When a young man is accidentally pulled out of a cryogenically frozen state, an alien parasite escapes from inside the man‘s brain. This little nasty parasite looks for a fresh host, turning the unwilling victim into a zombie. It’s the sort of thing that could really f*ck up a college dance.
Is it good movie?
How often do you watch a film from your past and realize it just wasn’t nearly as good as you remember? Well, one movie that will surely not happen with is Fred Dekker’s cult classic Night of the Creeps. It is pure joy to re-experience this flick looking as good as it does here. There is a little bit of sci-fi, a ton of horror, creepy parasites and of course romance. With all the characters named after famous folks in horror like John Carpenter, Sam Raimi and David Cronenberg, this is truly a celebration of all things scary and fun. While much of my enjoyment is certainly nostalgia, it is much more than that. Because truthfully, nostalgia sometimes doesn’t hold up as well as you’d want. Not so with Night of the Creeps, it has aged especially well and retains the fun and thrills of the first time. In fact, it really seems better with age.
It all begins in 1959, when two crazy kids on lover’s lane witness something falling from the sky. And like anybody would (or maybe not), this boy has the need to go check things out and find out what that bright light was. Okay, it is the Fifties, so I guess they could be that naïve. This black and white sequence is utterly genius. It borrows from the old urban legend about a couple hearing a news report about an escapee at a mental home. And of course, it also goes for the parasite turns victim into a zombie route. This could’ve easily been a case of too much of a good thing, but Fred manages to create characters you want to root for and a script that is able to make you laugh, cringe and shiver. It is no wonder why the movie has managed to gain so many fans throughout the years.
You’ll notice that this DVD release happens to be the “Director’s Cut”. And yes, it is, simply because they brought back the ending that Dekker wanted. Sure it doesn’t have the cheep boo scare that the theatrical version had, but it works better in many ways. And seriously, a graveyard is a terrific way to end a horror flick. And what about the cast? I have to say that there are very few actors in this type of genre flick that come off as well as Jason Lively, Steve Marshall and Jill Whitlow do. First off, the relationship between the buddies is ahead of its time. This is a bromance before there was ever such a word. The relationship between best buds, Chris (Lively) and J.C. (Marshall) is absolutely believable and refreshing. It is a very rare thing to find friends like this in a horror film. And speaking of chemistry, Chris and his would be paramour, Cindy (Whitlow), also seems pretty genuine.
What’s that you say? “Thrill me…” Okay, if there is anyone out there that doesn’t dig Mr. Tom Atkins, what is wrong with you? As Detective Ray Cameron, Atkins shines with some witty dialogue and unbelievable timing. Sure the man is always good, but he really gives this character the heart and soul it should have. With his “detective trench coat” and his Hawaiian shirt, he is a big reason why Creeps works as well as it does. And thanks to Mr. Dekker, he keeps Tom tough, and he manages to pull out some fantastic moments of tribute to his favorite films. From Jaws to Alien, he has made what could have been a dumb popcorn movie, to a great little B-movie that could. And finally, all these years later, it is getting the respect it deserves.
Video / Audio
Video: How great it is to see such a nice 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen transfer for Creeps. I really have to see what this baby looks like on Blu-ray.
Audio: This 5.1 Dolby Digital is just as good as the video. All those slithering parasites are music to my ears.
“Thrill me!” This DVD certainly did in regards to special features.
Starting things off right is the wonderfully insightful Audio Commentary with Fred Dekker. Fred is clearly an intelligent man and he is also incredibly engaging. He tells us all about the trials and tribulations of making this film, and he is surprisingly honest about what works and what doesn’t for him, personally.
With the second audio commentary, the audience is given the opportunity to hear the cast of the film chat. It includes Lively, Marshall, Whitlow and Atkins. At one point, Tom gives his two cents mentioning that he may not be able to get a word in with this gang, which is sort of true. But it is still very entertaining listening to this charming group. While this is not nearly as stimulating as the director commentary, it is absolutely worth checking out.
Next up is the Original Theatrical Ending which is your basic “Boo Scare” and it involves a dog. I personally didn’t hate this ending, but I do appreciate the more “epic” one that is included in this DVD.
Usually, Deleted Scenes (7:52) are deleted for a good reason. While the same may be true for this set, I would’ve liked to have seen almost every one of these added into this cut. The scenes include “The Girl’s Meet Johnny”, “J.C.’s Positive Thinking”, “Cameron vs. Raimi”, “Making Cookies”, “Raimi Follows Protocol”, “Cameron Spies Spanky” and “Chris Stays Behind”. I really liked the two scenes involving Raimi, Bruce Solomon was very funny in the role, as was Mr. Atkins.
Thrill Me: The Making of Night of the Creeps (58:00) is a terrific addition. This fun filled making of offers up the playful side of the cast, who seem to be doing their interviews at a hotel. The chapters in this include “Birth of the Creeps”, “Cast of the Creeps”, “Creating the Creeps”, “Escape of the Creeps” and “Legend of the Creeps”. We follow the film from talk about the making of the film, all the way until a successful screening at Alamo’s Drafthouse. Once again, Mr. Fred Dekker comes across as a genuinely cool fellow.
Speaking of cool, how about Tom Atkins: Man of Action (19:52). This interview covers all of his classic films, with quotes from the men who directed this living legend. He talks about Halloween 3: Season of the Witch, Lethal Weapon and about all his work with John Carpenter and George Romero. Simply put, this is a fantastic chance to see how sweet-natured this tough guy really is.
They also offer a Trivia Track which spouts off information while you watch the film. But if you save this feature for last, you pretty much already know what they are going to share. It is still fun to watch though. And finally, they give us the Original Theatrical Trailer for Night of the Creeps. All I can say to that… Awesome!
Finishing up the disc are Trailers for “Zombie Strippers”, “Ghostbusters”, “Hellboy”, “Men in Black”, “Men in Black 2” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”.
When I was young, and I first saw Night of the Creeps, I liked it but I didn’t quite get all the goodness that is spread throughout. But after seeing it again, and again, and again, with lousy VHS copies, I absolutely grew to love it. With all the fun horror references and a witty script that manages to give thrills and chills, I have grown to really love this cult classic. If you’ve never seen this, and you are a horror fan, shame on you. Get on line and buy it, of if you still rush out to a local video store, do that. This Director’s Cut is made for the fans, although I really would’ve loved to see some of the deleted scenes as part of the film… my only real (yet minor) complaint.