UTG’s 31 Days Of Halloween: ‘Night Of The Creeps’

Of all the holidays celebrated worldwide, no single day is more loved by the UTG staff than Halloween. With the arrival of the year’s best month, the time has finally come to begin rolling out a plethora of features and special announcements we have prepared in celebration of our favorite day, including the one you’re about to read.

Now in its third year, 31 Days Of Halloween is a recurring feature that will run throughout the month of October. The hope and goal of this column is to supply every UTG reader with a daily horror (or Halloween-themed) movie recommendation that is guaranteed to amplify your All Hallows’ Eve festivities. We’ll be watching every film the day it’s featured, and we hope you’ll follow along at home.

[Warning: the material within is likely NSFW]


Day 29: Night Of The Creeps (1986)

Fred Dekker only has four directorial credits, all of which arrived before 1994. He’s responsible for Robocop 3, a beloved cult favorite in The Monster Squad (featured last year), and one single episode of Tales From The Crypt, which aired during season two in 1990. Predating all of this, however, was his directorial debut in 1986, arriving just four months before I was born. Unfortunately for me, it wasn’t until the Summer of last year that I finally made the time to experience Night Of The Creeps.

I went on a much-needed and long overdue cult horror bender during last year’s hottest months, in anticipation for Halloween. The binge included great flicks such as From Beyond, Popcorn, Basket Case, and Tales From The Dark Side, but over a year later, I find myself reflecting on Night Of The Creeps the most out of the bunch.

The film opens on a space craft, in 1959, with three of the strangest looking aliens I’ve seen to date. One appears to be running for its life as it guards something close to its body; a canister of some sort. Once safely behind a locked door, in desperation, it launches the canister from the ship into space and we see it rapidly hurling downward, presumably toward Earth. This of course sets off an unusual chain of events, one that’s actually soon suspended for some 27 years before it’s finally set fully in motion.

10 minutes into the film, we jump to 1986 where we meet our charismatic leads, college students (and self-proclaimed “lame-oids”) Chris and J.C. After some segments that feel wonderfully akin to a John Hughes film, the two accidentally expedite that aforementioned unraveling madness, which throughout the course of the 90-minute film includes cryogenics, axe murders, zombies, and super fast, creepy-crawly space slugs.

night of the creeps gif

Since its release nearly three decades past, Night Of The Creeps has been cemented in the annals of film history as a genuine cult classic. Seamlessly unifying themes of horror, science fiction, and dark comedy, the film serves as a sort of homage to the golden age of exploitation and B movie genres. Between the onscreen chemistry and likability of its characters, the hilariously witty dialogue, and the smart use of practical make-up and effects used for its disgustingly awesome splatstick sequences, Night Of The Creeps is a guaranteed 90 minutes of fun for any fan of the genre. It’s clever, adventurous, and it’s self-aware; all qualities I wholly appreciate in any genre, but when integrated within a sub-genre of horror, I’m all the more obliged.

Oh, Brad. You and your deadpan humor.

Oh, Brad. You and your deadpan humor.

If it weren’t for the strong, ideal performances of the main characters, Night Of The Creeps wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable or memorable. Perfectly cast, Jason Lively (European Vacation), Steve Marshall, and the always awesome Tom Atkins (The Fog, Creepshow, Maniac Cop) deliver perfect turns in each of their roles. Lively and Marshall’s Chris and J.C., respectively, are endlessly fun and feel natural within the chaos of the film, whereas Atkins’ Ray Cameron is an overly sarcastic, cranky, catchphrase-hurling bad-ass, with the three coming together to collectively create some of the film’s best dynamics.

Furthermore, as mentioned previously, one of my favorite aspects of any horror film during that era is the use of practical effects. You just can’t help but admire the time, effort, and skill that goes into creating these visual manipulations with puppetry and make-up work; movie magic seldom found in today’s CGI-encumbered features.

The final thing I want to expand on is the way Dekker pays tribute to some of the genre’s greatest minds. Not only in the previously noted homage presented structurally and visually, but Night Of The Creeps contains characters and places directly named after Roger Corman, David Cronenberg, George A. Romero, John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper, John Landis, Sam Raimi and more. There’s nothing subtle about it, either, the way you might find in some films such as Shaun Of The Dead where such nods and references are mostly offered in a much more coy, ‘Easter egg’ sort of fashion. This is a straight-up love letter to the forefathers of horror, gore and all things spooky.

night creeps gif

Night Of The Creeps has enough of a devoted following to have caused quite a stir for James Gunn upon the release of Slither in 2006, but the film is still criminally underrated and overlooked. It’s been just over a year since my first viewing of Dekker’s debut and along with The Monster Squad, it’ll certainly be one I plan to revisit during every Halloween season from here on out.

I couldn’t recommend this film enough. If you love campy horror films, the best of John Hughes, and unforgettable storylines, Night Of The Creeps is a must watch. Thrill me!

Editorial written by: Brian Lion
Last year’s Day 29 film: Thirteen Ghosts

Brian Leak
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