INT: Fred Dekker


I was watching NIGHT OF THE CREEPS the other day, and with a killer performance by Tom Atkins, and some creepy parasite critters, it all made for great fun. And yes, it holds up quite well. Writer/director Fred Dekker really had some fun with this film and it shows all these years later. But the real treat for this Halloween is that the film is getting the royal treatment from Sony. The Director’s Cut will be finding it’s way onto DVD and Blu-ray on October 27th. I for one can’t wait.

I had the pleasure to speak with Fred the other day, and it was a blast. They don’t come any nicer than Mr. Dekker. We talked about everything from bromance to the idea of a sequel to Creeps and of course, what a bad idea it is to remake THE MONSTER SQUAD. So just in time for Halloween, pick up your copy of Night of the Creeps (look for a brand spanking new release of Monster Squad on November 24th). Let this dude make another movie… seriously.

I think it is safe to say that most every old school horror fan that I know really holds NIGHT OF THE CREEPS as one of their favorites. What was it like going back and putting it together for the Directors Cut?

Well it is really gratifying obviously, that the movie finally found its audience after twenty years or however much its been. And as far as the Directors Cut, that was like an itch that you didn’t scratch twenty years ago. I mean, the end of the movie as scripted and the end of the movie as it was released in theatres were two different things. And that was a compromise and it is something that always bothered me. So when Sony came to me and said we want to do the DVD and I said, that’s great. I guess I was feeling full of myself and I said, ‘Listen, is there any way I can put the ending back on the way it is supposed to be?’. Then there was a pause and then they said, ‘Sure!’. So I’m really in debt to them for that because I get to finally finish the movie.

As far as the fan response… I don’t know, I think a lot of it has to do with youth. A lot of the movies I really loved, part of it was that I was falling in love with movies when I was young when I saw them. And the big test is going back and looking at it years later and seeing if it holds up to scrutiny. There’s a lot of movies I loved when I was a kid, like THE OMEGA MAN with Charlton Heston and the later PLANET OF THE APES films, I saw them dozens of times and then I go back and look at them and… eh, they’re not so good.

With this film, I had a lot of problems when it was released. I mostly saw its flaws and for many, many years I had a really hard time watching it. Although there are flourishes and there are some things in it that I liked and I thought I pulled it off. There were… most of the flaws glared out at me. And in recent years, partly due to the fan response and people telling me how much it means to them and it made me kind of re-assess the movie. The movie is actually better… it’s not better than I thought it was back then, it’s as good as I was hoping it should be back then. Not to say that I don’t have tremendous problems with the film, no… but the stuff that works to me, works better. And the other thing that happened when we showed it in Austin at the Alamo Drafthouse was… you know, my other movie, THE MONSTER SQUAD and this one, we’ve had screenings with just people who love it and have seen it a million times and it plays like gangbusters, Monster Squad specifically plays like gangbusters in front of an audience. But at the Drafthouse, there was this strange, muted respect that I have never encountered with this movie so far. They laughed in all the right places and they’d cheer the lines, and the good news/bad news and all that stuff. But there was this sense that it was kind of elevated slightly, that it was better than your basic B-movie, which is was originally intended to be. And I found that really interesting, and emotional and cool. It was like, this is a real movie guys and that really meant a lot to us.

You mention B-movies, and for me, one of the best moments is when you have one character watching PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE…

I used to watch Plan 9 From Outer Space at three-o-clock in the morning. When I was in college, I would stay up all night, I’d be drinking bourbon and smoking cigars and I’d be like, Plan 9’s on!

That really represents how some of these classic B-movies have grown and they’ve become, I don’t know, somehow more respected today.

Eighties genre films?

Yeah, definitely.

Well, I think that genre movies have always reflected, kind of the underbelly of what’s going on in society… not trying to turn it into film school or anything, but INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS and the McCarthy era, and all of that, that was a perfect example of that. And I think the Eighties was full of a lot of substance and these kinds of movies, my films and Joe Dante’s films, and AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, they all kind of flip off the world and say, you know what, all the stuff you think is important and cool maybe isn’t so important and cool, maybe its ridiculous. Anyway, that is my half baked theory that I just came up with. The fact that these films could sort of poke fun at society, I mean, look at GREMLINS. I mean, there’s no rules. And to be a Steven Spielberg production, and Warner Brothers, its shocking.

You know, I was watching Creeps again last night, and it certainly hold up quite well. But what I really liked about it was the sort of John Hughes feel.

Very much so. Huge influence. Huge influence. And its funny because I really didn’t notice it at the time, but looking at it now, particularly in the wake of John’s death, it’s like oh yeah, those movies were hugely influential on me. And you know what else was, was John Landis’ ANIMAL HOUSE.

I’m not surprised. And just like those films, this one really has inspired others, it is so great to see it get the Blu-ray treatment.

Sony has really bent over backwards. Technically, its really spectacular. I was amazed at how well the digital technology, when used in the right way, can bring life to something. It was funny, the opening credits for this movie were consciously intended to be, sort of, color Famous Monsters of Filmland logo over an old black and white, bad B-movie from the Fifties. When we were doing the restoration, they asked me, you know, there’s a lot of speckles and stuff in the optical printing of the credits and they said, do you want us to remove these. I said, you know what, keep those in because it gives it life. It’s like the difference between analog effects and digital effects, or animatronics and CGI. You know, this was made by hand, you know, it amps up the cheese factor. But it admits that it is an old movie.

Now something you said in the commentary I wanted to talk about. But you mentioned that you kind of liked some of the performances not being all that good.

Well especially in the Fifties section, bad acting was not encouraged but it was not discouraged. And then in the rest of the film I think, good, bad or indifferent, there is an iconography to these characters. And I think really when you talk about the movie being special, I’ve come to believe its in the relationship between those two guys. And I think, whatever you want to say about their performances, there is a real camaraderie… a genuine camaraderie between them and I think that that makes the movie work.

I liked both of those guys.

Oh, I’m not denigrating them at all, but I’m saying, if you want to pick them apart… you know, this is not Robert DeNiro, Russell Crowe or Robert Downey Jr. but it is really about believing that these two guys really care about each other. And I think, without that, its just a bunch of jokes. And I think it is really important in any movie that you have some investment in the characters. And that is why I hate these terrible, Zucker Brothers rip-offs, Wayans movies, you know… it’s just like there’s no movie there.

What was also unique with your two lead guys, as a writer, you have them speak to each other and saying things like, ‘I love you.’. That almost never happens in a guy-guy relationship that is not BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN.

Yeah, yeah, yeah… Well, I had a really close knit group of friends in college and that kind of bromance of being a young man trying to go out and find girls and rule the world. It was really important to me and really important to a lot of people and its just a matter of, you know, just say it.

Now its been quite awhile since you directed a film. What could bring you back?

To directing movies?


Well, one thing would bring me back… a job offer.

See, that amazes me that these great directors, you, Carpenter, Hooper, so many of these guys that made horror great don’t get the offers.

I can’t get arrested. And it wasn’t that I haven’t wanted to make films. It’s just the simple financial element of, you know, the pictures I made at the time they were released, did not do well. I probably, ironically, the most loathed film of mine, ROBOCOP 3, probably made the most money of all of them. It probably made its money back. But the truth of the matter is, you’re only as good as how much money your movie makes. And if this movie was really terrible and makes three-hundred million dollars, then you’re Michael Bay. I just haven’t had that luck and I haven’t had the kind of benefactors that I had early in my career who were willing to back my play. So I’ve been developing a lot of things.

Well how would you feel if someone came to you and said, well I want to do Night of the Creeps 2 or I want to remake The Monster Squad?

Well Rob Cohen has actually talked about a Monster Squad remake, which I think is a terrible, terrible idea. Mostly because that particular arena has been so overdone by other people that it seems completely unfresh. I mean, there is a show on Nickelodeon called “The Troop” which is a flat out rip-off. There’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” there’s elements of Harry Potter, and all that stuff that we did is already being done by a lot of people, so to me it is completely unfresh.

With Creeps, I’m actually hoping, because I want so desperately to work with Tom Atkins and Jill [Whitlow] and Jason [Lively], and particularly Steve Marshall because he is really, really good and he hasn’t had his day in court. Because I would love to work with those guys so much, because there is so much fan affection for this movie, I actually have been talking with Chuck Gordon, if we can sell enough DVD’s, go in to Sony and say we want to do the sequel ourselves. I think a remake of this movie would just be catastrophic.

Let me know what you think. Send questions and/or comments to [email protected]




Source: AITH

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