Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Duel Reviews - "Night of the Creeps" (1986)

Duel Reviews:  Two Friends Two HUGELY Different opinions.  I’m doing this review of "Night Of The Creeps" with my good friend Bryce Wilson.  Bryce has his own review blog called "Things That Don't Suck".  We both love horror movies but seldom agree on what makes a good one. So we’ve decided to take each other through a couple of our old favorites. Bryce has been going through 31 horror films in 31 days for Halloween.  For our first set of reviews, we will be picking some of our favorite horror films.  First up is Bryce's pick: "Night of the Creeps".

Bryce: So this years of 31 Days Of Horror has apparently turned into a Tom Atkins tribute. Not that I’m complaining. There are few people as entertaining to watch as Atkins and no movie showcases that better then Night Of The Creeps. The thing that makes Night Of The Creeps special to me is the way it so effortlessly molds the innocence of the old school fifties AIP films, with the anarchy of the eighties splatter punk films. It sets this up with the great transition from the bizarre scifi opening, to the glorious black and white prolouge. Anything can happen. Despite some pretty grisly gore shots, but the movie keeps a feeling of innocence and fun throughout the whole runtime. I kept expecting Nick Adams or Elisha Cooke Jr. to show up. I’ve got to give most of the credit to Fred Dekker here, remember this guy directed The Monster Squad, he knows old school horror. It really is too bad that Robocop 3 seems to have permanently killed his career. Then again since Robocop 3 caused several murder suicides (FACT!) I’m pretty sure the punishment fit the crime. Still I’d love to see him make another movie, because Night Of The Creeps is genuinely fun, after the past ten years of Nu Horror it’s like a breath of fresh air. It THRILLS ME!

Robby: Let's start out with Fred Dekker, the director of Night of the Creeps. The movie of his that I know best is "The Monster Squad", which I love. I was worried that "Night of the Creeps" would be a big disappointment, especially when comparing it to "The Monster Squad", but as it turns out, "Night of the Creeps" is not bad at all. It is still no "Monster Squad" however...

I love a good zombie movie and this is one of the better ones. I much prefer slow, stupid zombies compared to the fast, clever ones which the remake of "Dawn of the Dead" made popular of late. The thing I did not like about these "Night of the Creeps" zombies was the whole alien aspect. I like not knowing exactly what is going on in the world to make the dead come to life. Personally, zombies scare me and alien creatures do not. Maybe that is the reason I was not keen on the idea of alien creatures creating these zombies. But on the plus side, as Bryce said, I like how it pays homage to the classic films of AIP. It is a true 50's sci-fi/horror film set in the 1980s.

Bryce: Yeah the whole alien aspect is a little funny. The first five minutes of the movie play like someone mixed up the reels with another film in a projection booth. But I think it ultimately fits, as the film becomes more of a tribute to fifties filmmaking. Plus I like the way the alien slugs make a secondary threat. Just cause you kill the zombie doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods. That’s something I haven’t seen before, and I love it when the movies are able to give a genre I’ve seen before that little something extra. 

Aside from Dekker though, this movie belongs to the man Tom Atkins, who sells his role with a smart ass and a righteous stash. He’s funny as hell in this thing, playing it on just the right side of campy, though serious enough to blast a zombie with his 12 gauge like he really means it. The main characters are good. It’s obvious that Dekker cares about them as characters and not just zombie chow. The main characters progression from wimp to worthwhile human being is believable, the love interest is appealing (I always get a kick out of the how she looks in her party dress wielding a flame thrower) and let’s all take a moment to pour one on the curb for poor old JC proving Zombieland’s axiom about Zombies and toilets true. But still this is Atkin’s show, making him one of my all time favorite horror movie leads. 

Robby: I agree! Tom Atkins steals the entire film. His character was just right. He had the right amount of seriousness with a bit of charming goofiness. He is the character I really cared about. Even when Atkins gives exposition for past events, I was drawn in and truly interested in what has happened to his character over the years.

The other characters were written well enough, but they really were bad actors. True, it is good to see the main character of Chris progress from nerd to hero, but the actor portraying him (Jason Lively) was just plain bad. Even so, the writing of the character was done well enough where a bad actor doesn't hurt it too much.

Another good character was Cynthia's ex-boyfriend Brad, played by Allan Kayser. He was Chris' personal villain for being in his way of his true love with Cynthia. He was the kind of great 80s teenage villain that was made popular by the "Karate Kid" series. He is the type of person that you hate for every reason and you are just waiting for that scene where the hero gets to confront him. The confrontation in this film: Chris gets to shoot Brad in the head after he had become a zombie. That is good stuff!

Bryce: God Brad was such a douche. Like Spader level bad. I miss those old school 80’s WASP villains with their perfectly coiffed hair and sense of entitlement. Anyway, I’m glad you liked this one. It might not be the scariest movie ever made, but it’s a great slice of retro fun.

Robby: A slice of retro fun for sure. One other scene I did like was when Tom Atkins says to other police officers: "29 year old dead guys don't just get up and walk away!" The film then cuts to the dead guy walking. "The Monster Squad" did the exact same thing. The father in "The Monster Squad" says: "3,000 year old dead guys don't just get up and walk away!" Cut to the Mummy walking down the street. I love seeing hints of a director's previous work in films.

"Night of the Creeps" is a fun movie. It started out slow, but give it a chance. By the end of the film, you will be entertained like only an 80s film can do.

B  I recommend it.

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