Scream Factory Revives ‘Night of the Creeps’ on Blu-ray

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Night of the Creeps Blu-ray

“The good news is your dates are here. The bad news is they’re dead.”

The history of Hollywood is littered with tragic tales of filmmakers who’ve made classic films only to be exiled by the industry. Writer-director Fred Dekker helmed three films in his brief directing career, two of which have endured as cult classics for decades with+ The Monster Squad and Night of the Creeps. Now the latter finally lands on Blu-ray with a new two-disc edition from Scream Factory, the horror imprint of Shout! Factory. While there’s a lot to like about seeing Night of the Creeps in glorious HD (with two alternate cuts!), and yet I was filled with sadness because the business side of the industry basically pushed Dekker out the door and robbed audiences of any number of wildly inventive genre films.

Night of the Creeps is Dekker’s monster mash-up, blending a number of genres in a wild ride that never relents. The film opens in space. A civil war is breaking out on an alien ship, and the experiment which they’re battling over has just been shot onto Earth. In a quaint American town in 1959, well below the battle going on in the stars, a young police officer is patrolling his beat when he encounters his former beau. Noticeably heartbroken, he orders the young woman and her date to leave the scene as a psycho killer has just escaped an asylum. However, that’s not all they have to worry about as the alien experiment has landed not too far from them.

27 years later, Detective Ray Cameron (Tom Atkins) is still haunted by the events of that night. The horrors he witnessed have shaped him into a gruff, cynical officer of the law. At the local college, the comically dubbed Corman University, Chris Romero (Jason Lively) and his best friend J.C. (Steve Marshall) are nerdy outcasts trying to fit in. Their grand plan to get the attention of Cynthia Cronenberg (Jill Whitlow) is to pledge her boyfriend’s fraternity. The two awkward young men are tasked with stealing a cadaver from the college’s medical department. However, these two don’t discover a body in eternal slumber, but a zombie-like killer that has lived on beyond death. These alien slugs that take over a host body living or dead or turn them into mindless killers. Ahead of the college’s big formal dance, the night to remember becomes the Night of the Creeps.

Fred Dekker injects Night of the Creeps with witty homages to the horror genre, naming characters and places after famed directors and employing just about every genre cliché conceivable. And yet the film doesn’t rely on reference or nostalgia to entertain, it’s just flavoring to the madcap insanity on display. There are scenes of legitimate horror, where Dekker utilizes all of his horror knowledge to craft memorable sequences of unbridled terror. But Dekker is also able to cut the tension, and he does often, with some incredibly effective humor, most of which has actually aged quite well over the subsequent 33 years since its release. Even the killer slugs from outer space have found a new life in the way a similar creature was used in James Gunn’s Slither (also a Scream Factory release), though Gunn himself has denied the connection.

As is to be expected with any new release from Scream Factory, this new edition of Night of the Creeps is loaded with bonus features. There are new interviews with cast members Allan Kayser, Ken Heron, Suzanne Snyder, and more. There are two audio commentary tracks, one with Fred Dekker and the other with the cast. Another installment of Horror’s Hallowed Grounds take us to the real life filming locations from the cult classic. This is all supplemented even further with older featurettes from prior releases, including a great one on actor Tom Atkins, who has been a cornerstone of numerous cult movies over the years including a number of Scream Factory releases.

Once again, Scream Factory has shown why horror fans salivate at each new title released. Here’s a cult film that flopped upon it release that’s treated with the reverence of an Oscar-winner. It’s a jam-packed two-disc edition that offers both theatrical and alternate cuts of the film as well as an array of special features, new and old. Fred Dekker’s career as a director never recovered from the costly bomb of Robocop 3 (also available from Shout! Factory), but at least he can take some comfort in knowing that his brazen directorial debut will be available to future generations thanks to this extensive special edition Blu-ray. Night of the Creeps is a wildly entertaining blend of horror and comedy and it’s about time that the film gets the recognition it deserves.

Night of the Creeps
  • Overall Score
5

Summary

The cult classic from writer-director Fred Dekker, Night of the Creeps, finally arrives on Blu-ray with a jam-packed special edition that honors Dekker’s madcap horror mash-up of genre insanity.

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