Today's Pick: Night of the Creeps (1986)
If you haven't figured it out by now, I love 80's era horror. The focus on effects, the fun spirit and emerging talents really made the decade something special for the genre. One of the most celebrated cult directors of the era was Fred Dekker, who would go on to make the minor classic The Monster Squad (which I picked for last year's list). Dekker is the kind of creator who can't help his infatuation with the genre he plays in, and that fanatic love is wonderfully honed in Night of the Creeps, a blend between 50's science fiction, 80's teen romps, and a whole bunch of fake blood.
I'd definitely put Night of the Creeps even further into the comedy genre than most of this year's picks, since it really only offers up one or two pieces of serious scareability. Both of these involve the psycho killer (qu'est-ce que c'est) from Detective Ray Cameron's past. For such a small bit of true terror, they're pretty effective, especially thanks to the super creepy zombie version that shows up later.
I bring up Detective Ray Cameron because he steals the whole show. Brought to life by veteran character actor Tom Atkins, this was the role he was born to play. He's said in multiple interviews that it's his favorite role of his career, and I can see why. Cameron has stepped right out of a pulp magazine, infused with all the two-fisted glory that comes with. What's great is that Cameron isn't just a cartoon character, but he's kind of the secret protagonist, as his journey is the one filled with the most depth and satisfaction. All this is helped by the hilarity of the character's "don't give a shit" attitude. For all the gore and action surrounding him, this is Tom Atkins movie.
There's still plenty else to enjoy though. Horror fans will eat up the numerous characters whose names are taken from other horror luminaries. The college kids aren't fantastic, but they are as relatable and silly as any teen character from an 80's film. The final showdown with the slug-controlled zombies has plenty of great gags and one-liners that there's something you'll find yourself laughing or applauding at.
I tried to fill my recommendations for this year with a lot more fun movies than outright scary ones, and Night of the Creeps is nothing if not fun. It may be a little to leisurely paced for those expected all-out insanity from the word go, but it's such a well-crafted and clever little flick that it deserves the cult following it has amassed over the years. Maybe you'll be joining that cult after checking it out this season. It's on Netflix (as of this writing), so go give it a look!
Tomorrow's flick is stupid and bad, but it's the good kind of stupid and bad, so don't worry! See you tomorrow!
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