31 Nights of Horror (#10) | 2017
On this episode of The Nightly Chill:
Cinematico Magnifico continues his search for late-night scares beyond the walls of The Last Video Store on Earth. Tonight, we look at 80s teen comedy turned retro monster movie, Night of the Creeps!
NOTE: All movies reviewed for “31 Nights of Horror” are currently available to stream in the US via Shudder, a horror-centric streaming service.
When slug-like alien parasites are accidentally unleashed on small-town America, it’ll be up to some plucky college kids and a heroic cop to save the world in Night of the Creeps.
Night of the Creeps is brought to us by writer-director Fred Dekker–who many might know better for his work on yet another cult-classic, The Monster Squad.
And much like The Monster Squad, Night of the Creeps takes classic horror staples like aliens and zombies and sets them loose in small-town America with a more light-hearted twist. The movie never takes itself too seriously. This is very much an 80s version of matinee sci-fi b-films from the 1950s. In fact, the movie initially opens in the 1950s before quickly jumping ahead thirty years. The college kids are very much the sort of bright, stereotypical go-getters found in those earlier movies. The police officer is an unfaltering hero of the people. And the monsters are never, ever intended to seriously disturb so much as they’re intend to illicit a cheap, but fun scare. The slug-like creatures are very unsettling and will be sure to cause many to squirm in their seats as they wriggle about, in and out of their victims.
MAYBE TOO DIFFERENT
But, despite being a well-written, well-directed, and well-acted bit of comedy and horror, the movie’s light-hearted tone and material is likely to leave some fans rather disappointed.
Because if you want something much more scary than it is funny, Night of the Creeps is not the movie for you. There’s some certainly great effects on display and some creatively violent moments to be found. But it is not looking to give anyone nightmares so much as it is eager to offer you a fun time.
Horror is an incredibly flexible approach to material more so than it is an easily defined genre. There are key elements and twists that can be added to any story to turn even a teen comedy into a horror movie.
And it’s this variety found in horror stories that provide us–and especially those who might not normally like horror movies– such fun experiences as Night of the Creeps. Because for every scare the movie sacrifices, it more than makes up for it in jokes, gags, and simply playing about with a classic style and staple of American cinema.
And it never passes up an opportunity to do either. Because while many similar movies might do different, Night of the Creeps paces itself like few others. It’s never too long before there’s another joke or monster popping about on screen. The characters constantly have something to stay and do. There’s no wasted time or effort.
This isn’t to say the movie is somehow flawless, because it’s not. As fun as the movie is, it’s not nearly as memorable as many other comedic horror films of that era. Its jokes are about as cutting or as clever as its scares are intense. The overall experience is fairly mild, fairly safe.
But for a movie that’s very much taking up the legacy of horror movies that were intended to be fairly mild, fairly safe, isn’t that sort of the point? And in that case, doesn’t that make it a great continuation of that legacy?
Now, whether you answer yes or no to these questions will determine the mileage you’ll get from Night of the Creeps.
But in either case: if you are looking for a good time with a bit of a morbid twist, be sure to CHILL with Night of the Creeps.