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Stacie Ponder – Night of the Creeps Rules for So Many Reasons, Space Slugs Being No. 8

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Rejoice, my friends! The time is nigh for the long-awaited DVD release of Fred Dekker’s cult classic, Night of the Creeps (1986)!

The movie begins in 1959, as a rogue alien launches a cylinder containing some sort of “experiment” from a UFO. It crashes in the woods near Corman University and a curious young fella decides to investigate, getting a mouth full of space slug for his trouble. This B&W prologue gives way to color as the action shifts to 1986. It’s pledge week, and a frat prank gone awry results in that young fella from ’59 being thawed from a cryogenic deep-freeze… and where goes the young fella, goes the space slug. Before you can say “Holy crap, there’s a massive brain-sucking slug outbreak on campus,” there’s a massive brain-sucking slug outbreak on campus.

Long a favorite with the horror crowd, this funny-creepy tale of alien parasites and the geeks who battle them is finally getting a second lease on life, and I hope a whole new crowd of genre fans will fall in love with the it. In fact, I’m making it my mission to preach the gospel of Night of the Creeps, hence my ten reasons why it rules!

1. Way back when I cited ten of my very favorite horror movie taglines, Night of the Creeps made the list with “The good news is, your dates are here. The bad news is, they’re dead.” Not only is that a great quote to slap on the poster, but it’s also an actual line of dialogue from the movie.

2. Two words, folks: Tom Atkins. That’s really all I need to say, but I’ll elaborate. We’re talking Tom freakin’ Atkins at his mustachioed, tough guy best playing Detective Cameron, still mourning the tragic loss of his high school sweetheart who was chopped up by an escaped mental patient back in 1959. Whether discussing space slugs or a freshly killed co-ed, Cameron always begins with the deadpan dare, “Thrill me.” Oh no, Tom Atkins — you thrill us!

3. Writer/director Fred Dekker is also responsible for another recently reissued cult classic, The Monster Squad. His creature-filled flicks are obviously the work of a man who loves horror, but the Easter egg hunt to which he invites fellow genre fans with Night of the Creeps really drives the point home. He’s named characters (and universities) after George Romero, Sam Raimi, Steve Miner, John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper, David Cronenberg, John Landis, and Roger Corman — now that’s an homage.

4. The movie is rooted in the 1980s and yet somehow timeless. The fashions aren’t modern, but they’re not laughable. The lingo isn’t off-putting and the soundtrack, which features Jane Wiedlin and Wall of Voodoo’s Stan Ridgway, is just plain awesome. I’ll admit, though, the bathroom graffiti touting that “Stryper rules!” may be a little passe.

5. Night of the Creeps is a horror comedy that excels in both regards. The one-liners and gags keep you laughing, but when Dekker decides to spotlight the scare factor, it’s scary — like the scene in which an axe murderer’s reanimated corpse comes up through the floorboards.

6. If the late John Hughes had tried his hand at horror, the result probably would have been a lot like Night of the Creeps. The stereotypes are all accounted for — from the smarmy frat guy who dubs himself “The Bradster” to the geeks, weirdos and sorority beauties — but the characters aren’t stereotypes; there’s actually some — gasp — characterization going on!

7. I love, love, love the janitor, Mr. Miner, who apparently thinks the phrase “screaming like banshees” is the funniest thing he’s ever heard.

8. Plain old space slugs would be good enough for me, but these space slugs launch themselves your mouth, bite your brain and lay alien-slug eggs in it and then turn you into a zombie host while the eggs incubate. Not only do we get space slug action and animated-corpse action, but Night of the Creeps also delivers zombie cats and dogs. This movie is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

9. Creeps doesn’t skimp on the gore or the boobs. It’s a good ol’ 80s horror flick all the way.

10. Night of the Creeps is a throwback to a simpler time, but it never feels stale, dated or dull. The current crop of horror flicks may leave you feeling depressed and cynical, what with all the remakes, downer endings, douche-bag characters and violence for violence’s sake. But not Night of the Creeps: It will put a smile on your face and make you feel all better, like a tomato soup and grilled cheese lunch.

Night of the Creeps never really found its footing in theaters, which is a mystery to me because it rules. Anyone who disagrees may want to have his or her head examined — there just might be a space slug or two lurking up there.

A fan of horror movies and scary stuff, Stacie Ponder started her blog Final Girl just because she felt like it. She leads a glamorous life, walking on the razor’s edge of danger and intrigue.

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