During the 70's - thanks to the phenomenal success of films like Halloween, Friday the 13th and The Howling - a number of low-budget, small-release horror films came into being. It is widely accepted that most of these 'trashy' horrors were some of the worst films in the industry and ultimately aided the gradual decline of interest in the genre. However, every once in a while one comes across a little-known 's horror that is a true gem. Night of the Creeps is one such film.
While many will undoubtedly not appreciate its innovative vision, Night of the Creeps is an excellent film. Merging zombies, axe murderers and alien experiments all into a single storyline was an ambitious task - even ridiculously risky, some might say - but writer/director Dekker pulls it off remarkably well.
Mixing things like alien experimentation with the walking dead rests a little uneasily at first, but then in steps Tom Atkins (Halloween III) who, with all his disbelieving remarks and sarcastic stingers, helps the whole premise suddenly make sense. This is a remarkable achievement of scripting, but it is Atkins who truly shines through, giving a touchingly authentic performance and bringing sense to all the madness.
What is so shocking about Night of the Creeps is the amount of character development included. So many horror movies - especially in the 80's - neglect their characters for gore or scares, but Night of the Creeps takes a startlingly post-modernistic approach by actually taking the first thirty minutes of its eighty minute run to set up the characters and how fit - or not - in. All characters are given depth and motives, and in particular Tom Atkin's Roy is a character that finds a place in this horror lover's heart.
While constantly shifting from alien attacks to zombie manifestations, Night of the Creeps never loses sight of the plot or characters, which suggests that Dekker actually wanted to tell a story here. Write Dekker throws no end of twists or laughs at us, while director Dekker builds an interesting atmosphere around the Frat/Sorority houses. At times one can't help but feel that a number of the 'scares' could have been better directed for greater effect, but the suspense throughout - as well as some nice shots - make up for this.
The make-up effects (by David B. Miller) play a large part in Night of the Creeps, and surprisingly they are of a high and believeable standard. Heads explode to throw forth slug-like aliens; zombies walk face-less through the streets and cats are de-fleshed, all to remarkable effect. The gore is abundant, and this makes up for some sloppy acting from the younger cast members.
Of course, Night of the Creeps isn't without its flaws. Is the axe murderer plotline needed? Not really. Why would aliens be breeding slug-like creatures? Your guess is as good as mine. But seeing as Night of the Creeps is delivered with a happily light-hearted gloss, these minor flaws are of no matter. Just sit back, relax, grab a beer (or box of popcorn; I don't want to be blamed for under-age drinking!) and get lost in the magical world that is Night of the Creeps!
An interesting departure from most of the 's horror trash that existed all those years ago, Night of the Creeps is a genuinely entertaining little zombie/slasher/alien flick. Tom Atkins is wonderful, and the make-up effects are excellent. Ignore the weird title and sink your teeth into this wonderful piece of horror!