A masterpiece. Simply a work of art. NIGHT OF THE CREEPS might just be one of the cheesiest, most entertaining horror films ever made. This is why I got into the bad horror movie reviewing business. NIGHT OF THE CREEPS is the gold standard by which all other bad horror films should be measured. Rent it. Love it. Live it.
The story behind NIGHT OF THE CREEPS is almost as interesting as the film itself: writer-director Fred Dekker decided to spend seven days writing a script. If he could not finish the script in that time limit, he’d toss it into the garbage. But thank goodness for us, he was able to finish this gem before the week was up. Dekker also insisted that he be allowed to direct the film - another bonus for us. It’s been over fifteen years since Dekker’s last film, but I say let’s get him back in the game. At the very least, the man behind this movie needs a statue built in his hometown. God Bless Fred Dekker and his NIGHT OF THE CREEPS. God bless him.
Here’s the magnificently simple set-up: there are these two roommates, Chris and J.C., who attend some random college where getting drunk is all that matters. They go to a party; Chris sees a woman and instantly falls in love. Problem is, she's got a boyfriend. Not just any boyfriend, but a "Carter Prescott" type frat guy who likes to sit around in Izods chugging warm beer with his brothers.
So Chris decides that in order to impress this girl, the two roommates should try to join the frat. As an initiation they need to sneak into a top-secret scientific laboratory on campus and wreak havoc. In the lab, they find a frozen dude whom they wake up from his deep slumber, only to find he's been infected with – how should I put this? - creepy crawly things from outer space. Soon, the crawlies get out of the lab and all hell breaks loose. Now it's up to the roommates and a determined cop to stop the evil.
Sounds pretty formulaic, doesn’t it? Well, you’re not wrong, it is. I never said this isn’t a bad movie, I just said it’s a masterpiece of bad film. It achieves its badness with style, zest, and humor. It revels in the stereotypes which it promotes. It knows full well it's a bad movie and even pays tribute to this fact by having Ed Wood’s classic PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (ostensibly the worst movie of all time) play on a TV in one scene.
More film in-jokes can be found in the names of the cops – Detective Cameron, Sgt. Raimi, Detective Landis – all famous movie directors. Detective Cameron, however, steals the show. He’s played by Tom Atkins – a very recognizable character actor – who throws himself wholeheartedly into this ridiculous part and acts with utmost intensity. Detective Cameron pursues the creepy crawlies with determination and is the first to recognize that these things also have the ability to inhabit dead bodies and turn them into zombies.
That’s right, zombies. It’s a sci-fi, creepy-crawly, college, cop, and zombie movie all in one. And it works perfectly. There is gore a-plenty, cheesy special effects, scenes of sorority sisters taking showers – really just about all the essentials of a great horror movie.
It also features perhaps the single greatest film line ever uttered. (Spoiler Warning) Detective Cameron is at the sorority house, peaking outside their window, when he sees the frat brothers approaching. Only these brothers have recently been turned into zombies.
Detective Cameron: "Well, girls I have good news and bad news. The good news is: your dates are here.”
Sorority Sister: “What’s the bad news?”
Detective Cameron: “They’re dead.”
Genius!!!!! How this didn’t make the American Film Institute’s list of greatest movie lines is beyond me. Fred Dekker, if you can come up with this brilliance in a mere seven days, we might need to send you to the Middle East for a couple weeks to straighten that situation out. NIGHT OF THE CREEPS is the ultimate in bad horror.
RATING: **** out of 4