Now here's a peculiar little horror flick; bloody, violent, grotesque, and actually pretty funny as well. There's no doubt that it most likely embodies the elements of a horror-comedy, but some still won't be able to grasp such a concept. I know some people who argue against the fact that heads blowing up and flesh being torn could ever be used as a vehicle for generating laughs, and such people won't find a film such as this to their liking. It will lack all appeal not only because they don't get it, but also because the fact that they don't get it means that they're essentially close-minded enough to the point where even intentionally cheesy one-liners and a plethora of references to various movies and their respective directors can't save the experience from expiring immediately. I'm not one of those people, and that's why "Night of the Creeps" -which is indeed a horror-comedy that is really quite close to what I am speaking of - was so enjoyable for me.
Vulgar not in profanity but rather in cinematic violence, this is a classic 80's gorefest that contains just about as many laughs as it does flesh wounds pouring with the red, red kroovy. If you can find enjoyment in such a thing, then I say dig in, but otherwise, this might not be the easiest sit-through out there. Still, I think that most people who are understanding of how these "horror-comedies" work will find it a fun ride; while it lasts. But for me, there's something more of value here; and that's why I consider it such a "classic". Is it great cinema? No, but I will certainly remember it. It's funny, it's clever, well-written, and with more than its share of memorable quotes. It's an 80's film that pays homage to 80's films. Knowing that, ask yourselves: how is that not just instantly...lovable?
The film starts off on an extraterrestrial ship; in which the aliens that inhabit it are caught within a tornado of hatred amongst the passengers. These pig-faced, orange little bastards don't appear to be content; one runs off with a "top secret experiment" sort of capsule, which contains what I call a "horrible thing", while two other more...faithful aliens chase after that rather unfaithful one. They don't catch the traitor in time, and he launches the capsule into space, and finally, we learn that it has crash-landed on earth. Then, the film essentially opens AGAIN (in something that I like to call the "double-opening", which can sometimes be sort of charming and in other instances just-plain pretentious and annoying), this time with a black-and-white sequence depicting the discovery of this fallen object. A not-so-bright young man and his girlfriend take a drive and witness a glowing object hurtling towards somewhere in the woods behind them. The boyfriend is curious and goes after it, only to discover little creepy things lurking inside the capsule, which was the falling object, one of which jumps out at him and lands in his mouth.
A little over twenty years later, the scene has shifted to 1986; where Chris (Jason Lively) and his buddy J.C. (Steve Marshall) are trying to score women at college parties. Chris particularly takes a liking to a girl he falls for on sight, whose name is Cindy (Jill Whitlow). Chris believes that the only way to get this girl to notice him is to perform some outlandish stunt to please the frat boys. The "boys" give Chris and his buddy a simple but challenging task; to break into a cryogenics lab and steal a body. Things are going well until the two lovably losers chicken out, run for their lives, and leave the corpse that they had intended to steal to lie there on the floor. However, we are shown a glimpse of something important; the body had those creepy crawlies from the capsule stored inside of it, and they have been let loose. This, and many other things along with it, eventually turns many heads, one of which is that belonging to Detective Ray (Tom Atkins), who had a rough past that is eventually explored later on in the film. But for now, there are much more...important things at stake; what can those creepy crawlies (which are slugs, by the way) do?
As you might expect, they can take over the human body and control the mind; rendering man a zombie slave. I don't suppose they can infect others through a bite, like most classic movie zombies can, but the slugs certainly come in large numbers; and since the only way to kill them, as it seems, would be through fire; the survivors, Chris and company included, must do their bests to live through this invasion.
I loved watching this movie. It has its great pleasures. One of them, in particular, is Atkins' performance as the Detective. He's been in just a few films, sure, but this is the performance that everyone will remember. His catchphrase is "thrill me", and his campy attitude fits the film's own atmosphere perfectly. He's one of the many lost gems to be found here; a horror film that can be enjoyed by audiences both young and old. I should also mention the large number of movie references. There are characters here who don last names such as Romero, Landis, Raimi, Cameron, Miner, Cronenberg, and even Carpenter-Hooper. These are, of course, fairly obvious references; but if you're a horror fan, then it's quite difficult not to appreciate them. "Night of the Creeps" is as endearing as most horror flicks come, and for its kind, I'd say it's one of the best. It lives by clichés and conventions (the final twenty minutes or so involves a shoot-out/burn-out between the human characters and the dehumanized zombies), but at the same time, it's a fine satire that sets out to spoof them. Satirical horror films that work are few, and if "Night of the Creeps" works, then it works well. At that, there really isn't too much more to say about it other than it's worth seeing, I recommend it, and as far as evil-slug flicks go, it's hard to beat.