1980s B-Movie Chiller Has Fun

Fred Dekker’s Night of the Creeps has only grown in esteem over the years. Some fans may even call it a cult classic. Starring Tom Atkins, Jason Lively, Steve Marshall, Dick Miller, and a beautiful Jill Whitlow fighting off alien slugs turning people into zombies, it’s a fun creature romp from the 1980s. Made as a loving homage to the b-movies of the 1950s with a pure Eighties’ attitude and style, the genre flick ends in a wild battle with zombies at a sorority house.

The thoroughly enjoyable retro chiller deftly mixes in college tropes while paying homage to zombie and alien invader flicks. Lead Jason Lively (National Lampoon’s European Vacation) and horror regular Tom Atkins (The Fog, Creepshow, Halloween III) lead a superb cast through this rollicking adventure that sees the downsides of fraternity life, brilliant one-liners, zombie pets, and ghoulish make-up effects by David Miller.

Chris (Jason Lively) and J.C. (Steve Marshall) are two happy-go-lucky college students on the outside looking in when it comes to joining a fraternity. Chris pines after Cynthia, a sorority sister way out of Chris’s league. Brad, a typical frat guy, goes aggressively after Cynthia.

…a beautifully staged final act that’s worth the price of admission alone

Their lives are forever changed when Chris and J.C. accidentally awaken a cryogenically frozen corpse inside one of the university’s labs. The corpse carries an alien slug, having been possessed many years before in a stylish 1959 prologue. The slugs possess their human hosts and turn them into zombies, spreading the problem by jumping from body to body. What was supposed to be a stupid fraternity hazing trick now threatens the entire campus.

The one man that may be able to stop the slugs is detective Cameron, played by a perfectly tough Tom Atkins. Having crossed paths with the dangerous creatures back in 1959, losing his sweetheart in the process, detective Cameron has the means and fighting attitude necessary to make things right.

Night of the Creeps culminates in a beautifully staged final act that’s worth the price of admission alone. A horde of zombies descend on Cynthia’s sorority house, leading to an epic battle with flame-throwers and a wild ending. If the first act is a bit slow, the final act makes up for it in spades. If our heroes are going down, they are going down in a blaze of fiery glory.

Night of the Creeps is unmistakably a genre product of the Eighties, but it’s a stylish b-movie with great one-liners and likable characters.

Video

Scream Factory licenses the fine film transfer struck by Sony for the director’s cut ten years ago. The big news here is that Scream Factory presents the theatrical cut (88:13 in HD) for the first time on Blu-ray. Dekker’s preferred cut had a different ending, which was nixed by the studio upon release in 1986 and was recognized in 2009. The transfers are largely identical aside from the alternate ending found in the director’s cut.

Each version receives its own BD-50. Presented at the movie’s intended 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the 1080P video is encoded in high-bitrate AVC. Texture and grain reproduction are excellent in this film transfer from the late 2000s. Sony was pushing the limits of HD film transfers at the time and Night of the Creeps is another one of their strong efforts. Outside of minor crushing, it’s a film-like transfer taken from the original negative without deleterious processing.

The elements are in solid condition with stable saturation. High-frequency detail reveals a wealth of fine information in the make-up and prosthetics. The strong definition and pleasing color timing mark Night of the Creeps as a well-shot movie with real visual appeal for its era.

Audio

Both cuts of the movie receive identical audio options. Excellent 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio comes through in ringing clarity for an older genre movie. The original stereo mix is preserved in 2.0 DTS-HD MA.

Crisp dialogue, decent separation and surprisingly crunchy audio design make the surround mix an involving affair for listeners. Some rear support and occasional low-end kick push it into pleasing territory. The audio is identical to what was heard on the Sony BD.

Optional English SDH plays in a white font for both cuts.

Extras

Scream Factory rescues the original theatrical cut for this fine 2-disc collector’s edition. All of the special features found on Sony’s 2009 director’s cut disc get ported over, on top of Scream Factory’s new interviews with cast and crew. The A/V quality isn’t different, so this new edition is for those fans that missed out on the Sony BD, or really need the new extra features.

A deluxe limited edition has also been issued by Scream Factory that features a well-done action figure of detective Cameron as played by Tom Atkins.

The two-disc collector’s edition comes with a slipcover and reversible cover art. Most of the featurettes and commentaries will be familiar to genre fans, having been on Blu-ray now for a decade.

The new special features include interviews with several cast members, including lead Jason Lively and the actor that played Brad. Nothing particularly earth-shattering is revealed in the new special features but help flesh out Creeps a bit more.

Audio Commentary by Actors Jason Lively, Tom Atkins, Steve Marshall, and Jill Whitlow – A jovial group discussion more fun for the actors than actual listeners. The three younger leads had a close-knit relationship on set and Lively actually dated Whitlow during the movie.

Audio Commentary by Director Fred Dekker – A revealing and insightful discussion by the director with moderator Michael Felsher. Lots of ground gets covered and Dekker is very forthcoming about issues.

Horror’s Hallowed Grounds Episode (10:56 in HD) – A look at the film’s locations today with host Sean Clark. The film was partially shot at UCLA.

Real Good Plan (10:46 in HD) – A new interview with actor Jason Lively. He recalls his experience working with the other leads and his animosity towards the actor playing Brad at the time.

The Bradster (07:42 in HD) – A new interview with actor Alan Kayser, who played Brad.

I Vote For That One (10:12 in HD) – A new interview with actor Ken Heron, who played in the 1959 prologue.

Worst Coroner Ever (06:28 in HD) – A new interview with actor Vic Polizos.

Answering the Door (04:00 in HD) – A new interview with actress Suzanne Snyder recalling her one memorable scene as a sorority sister.

Final Cut (11:21 in HD) – A new interview with editor Michael N. Knue, who had previously worked with Dekker before filming Creeps.

Thrill Me!: The Making of NIGHT OF THE CREEPS (59:46 in HD) – A five-part documentary on the making of the film featuring interviews with writer/director Fred Dekker, actors Tom Atkins, Jason Lively, Steve Marshall, Jill Whitlow, producer Charles Gordon, special makeup effects creator David B. Miller, Special Makeup Effects artists Howard Berger and Robert Kurtzman and more.

Tom Atkins: Man of Action (19:55 in HD) – A nice look at the actor’s career.

Deleted Scenes (07:38 in HD)

Theatrical Trailer (01:32 in HD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Night of the Creeps
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  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

Fred Dekker’s 1980s chiller about alien slugs and zombies overrunning a college campus is a ton of fun with vividly etched characters.

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