Twitter Plot Summary: When an alien canister releases parasitic slugs on Earth, those infected become zombies and the living must work out how to stop them.
Five Point Summary:
1. One continuous eyebrow.
2. A corpsicle.
3. Thrill me.
5. “Duck – it’s Miller time!”
Yep, it’s yet another cheap and cheerful genre classic from the 1980s, however unlike most of the other 80s horror films I’ve seen recently in this case it’s a film that decides to do things a little bit differently and break away from the pack. Night of the Creeps is packed full of one liners, amusing gags and a bucketload of gore, as well as carrying a surprising amount of emotional heft just for added dramatic purposes. There’s still the usual hair rock soundtrack and typical 80s fashion choices, but it also pays direct homage to the B-movies of the 50s, most notably by opening with a black and white sequence set in said era and subsequently playing up to many of the tropes that later spun out from the genre.
After a canister of something decidedly unknown and alien crash-lands on Earth and releases some alien slug things which attack a young man and enter him, for want of a better term. The story then flashes forward 27 years to the 1980s and the plot proper begins. For those of you wondering why no alien parasites took over the world in the intervening years, all will be revealed in the film.
Lead cop Ray Cameron, played with sardonic sarcasm by Tom Atkins, gives a surprisingly deep portrayal of a man who is still haunted of his years as a young cop, where he witnessed his sweetheart being killed by an escaped mental patient. When his past literally comes back to haunt him, he starts a descent into actions that aren’t unexpected but are quite harsh given the tone of the rest of the film. This too is indicated with the friendship between Chris Romero (I see what you did there…) and his disabled friend JC (apparently named after John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper). Their buddy pairing is well realised and takes a few turns that again are somewhat unexpected but also equally welcome in order to keep things slightly fresher than the undead roaming the streets.
As a twist on the by then established zombie format, Night of the Creeps works well because it doesn’t go out of its way to stick too closely to that formula. Happy to take a few twists and turns at a time where zombies had suddenly taken to saying “Brains!” and George Romero had taken the genre underground (literally) and made it increasingly grim in 1985’s Day of the Dead, Night of the Creeps balances somewhere between the two. There’s the obvious body horror of having alien slug things enter you and take over your body like a parasite (mixed in with some possible allegory about the AIDS virus), plus the joy to be had from witnessing a small scale zombie outbreak. If you’re into that sort of thing, of course.
Whilst the effects may not be entirely up to scratch, Night of the Creeps has its own level of charm that more than makes up for it. Besides which, this is the 1980s we’re talking about – if we started complaining about effects from that era, we’d literally not be able to watch anything ever again.