Another day, another zombie movie but this particular one happens to be one of my favorite zombie movies. This was also my first experience with a movie having different endings. See, when I first saw this years ago as a teenager and only caught the last half of the movie. When I rented it a few weeks later, I noticed that the ending was different from the one I saw on TV. Years later, I would learn the reason behind that but it wouldn’t make much difference because there was no way that I wasn’t going to buy Night Of The Creeps.
The plot: Inside an alien ship, two aliens are chasing after a third alien, trying to stop it from taking an experiment off the ship but they are two late as the third alien places the tube with the experiment inside a garbage chute and launches it into space. At the same time, in 1959, a college guy, Johnny, is picking up his girlfriend Pam from her sorority at Corman University and they go up to a hilltop to park. After Pam’s ex-boyfriend, who happens to be a cop, tells them to head home, the two see a shooting star and Johnny decides to go looking for it. Driving close to where it fell, Johnny leaves Pam to go look for it but she gets scared when she hears a news report about an escaped mental patient and realizes that they are in the area he is said to be heading. Johnny continues through the woods and finds a strange tube with something moving inside and as he gets closer, a slug-like creature breaks out of the tube and enters his mouth. Meanwhile, Pam continues to call out for Johnny to come back, unaware that the mental patient is sneaking up behind her until he strikes her with a fire-axe. 27 years later, it is Rush Week at Corman University and freshman Chris Romero is complaining to his friend J.C. about his lackluster love life when he falls in love with a girl standing outside a frat house. When she heads inside, Chris and J.C. head in after her and when Chris is to insecure to talk to her, J.C. decides to go talk to her and learns that her name is Cynthia Cronenberg. Chris figures that in order to talk to her, he needs to be in a fraternity so he and J.C. speak to Brad, the president of the Betas, about joining. Brad decides to test them by having them steal a corpse and place it at a rival fraternity but after they leave, Brad tells the other frat members that he doesn’t intend to let them join as Cynthia, his girlfriend, walks up and kisses them. Chris and J.C. head down to the medical building and manage to sneak into an experimental lab, where they find the body of Johnny being kept in cryogenic storage. J.C. manages to open the chamber and as they approach the body, it suddenly grabs J.C., causing the boys to run, knocking over a grad student in the process. The grad student goes to see if they did anything in the lab and ends up being attacked by Johnny. Detective Ray Cameron is called to the crime scene and after finding out the details of what is going on, is shocked to learn that Johnny’s body has disappeared. Johnny makes his way to Pam’s old sorority, which happens to be the Kappa Delta sorority that Cynthia belongs too, and makes his way to Cynthia’s window, where he tries to get in and Cynthia watches as his head explodes and dozens of slugs fall to the ground and slither away. The police are called and Ray looks at bodies head and thinks it could have been done with an axe but his partner tells him to stop living in the past as the psycho disappeared 27 years ago. The next day, Brad and the Betas confront Chris and J.C. about the body but J.C. tells him that it was his idea and they didn’t go through with it. Cynthia tries to stop him but Brad kicks J.C.’s crutches out from under him and when Cynthia flicks him off, he and the other Betas leave. Cynthia apologizes and says she believes Chris and J.C. but before they can say anything, the police pick them up for questioning. In the interview room, Ray introduces them to a night janitor at the med lab, who saw them leaving the lab, and Chris admits that they were in the lab but that they didn’t take the body and confirming the story, they are let go. At the morgue, the body of the grad student suddenly comes back to life and walks out of the police station and heads back to the medical lab, where he attacks the night janitor. Cynthia goes to see Chris and J.C. and tells them about a sorority sister’s cat having been killed and buried but somehow coming back to life and that the body had come up to her window. Chris decides to walk her back to her house while J.C. goes to the bathroom but while he is in the bathroom, the night janitor enters the restroom and his head bursts open to release dozens of slugs while the body collapses to the floor. J.C. manages to kill one of the slugs by setting it on fire with a book of matches but when one crawls up his pant leg, he falls off the toilet and tries crawling away only to see a slug crawling strait towards him. Chris and Cynthia reach her house and Cynthia asks Chris to be her date to a formal the next night and Chris accepts but as he is leaving, he runs into Ray, who had been following the two for a while. Ray takes Chris back to his house, and tells Chris what happened to his high school sweetheart and how he tracked down the killer, killed him, and buried him where the Delta Sorority’s house mother’s cottage now sits while at the cottage, a pounding is heard coming from the floor and the corpse of the killer breaks free and proceeds to kill the house mother. When he gets a call about what happened, Ray leaves Chris there while he grabs his shotgun and heads to the sorority. When the police locate the killer, Ray heads to the alley where they have him cornered and when he sees the rotting body, he shoots it in the head, causing the head to explode and slugs to fall out and slither away. The next night, Chris is getting ready for the formal when he sees a mini tape recorder on J.C.’s desk with a note saying to listen. Playing the tape, he hears a message from J.C. telling him what happened and that he is going to the boiler room to kill the ones in his head as heat will kill them. Chris runs down and sees J.C.’s body and the dead slugs and goes to see Ray, who is sitting in his house attempting to kill himself, and after telling him what happened to J.C., Ray agrees to help him. As the Deltas and Betas get ready for the formal, a drunken Brad is walking outside the Delta house and when he sees one of the slugs go by, he bends down to take a closer look when the house mother’s dog comes up and a slug leaps from it’s mouth into Brads. The dog then heads down the road and causes the bus carrying the Betas to the Delta house to crash, and it goes inside and proceeds to release slugs to infect the bodies inside. Chris and Ray head to the police station and grab a flamethrower, then head for the Delta house, where Chris manages to save Cynthia from an infected Brad. As the zombie Betas head towards the house, Chris and Cynthia work on killing them while Ray goes inside and kills the ones that manage to break in through the back, as well as killing the sorority girl who had been infected by her cat the night before. After killing all the Betas outside, Chris notices the slugs heading to the Delta’s basement and asks Cynthia what is down there. Realizing one of the girls stored some brains there for her biology class, Chris and Cynthia tell the girls to leave while they go to the basement. They find Ray there dousing the place with gasoline while a huge mound of slugs lies against the far wall. When Ray starts counting down, Chris realizes what he plans on doing and he and Cynthia run for it while Ray turns on the gas flow in the basement and lights his lighter to cause the house to burst into flames. As they watch the house burn, Chris and Cynthia kiss each other while elsewhere, the burnt body of Ray is seen walking away. It collapses in front of the cemetery and some slugs burst out of his head and head inside when suddenly, a bright light is seen shining on the cemetery as an alien ship passes overhead looking for the slugs.
Night Of The Creeps met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a 69% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most of the critics liked the comedy and horror that was seen as a tribute to the horror movies from the 50’s. Director Fred Dekker used every B-movie cliche he could think of when he wrote the script and originally wanted to shoot the movie in black and white. While the ending listed above was the original ending, the ending shown in theaters had Cynthia, after kissing Chris, bending down to pet the house mother’s dog when a slug leaps out of it’s mouth towards her. The movie didn’t fare well in theaters, as it only earned a little $591,000 at the U.S. box office but quickly became a cult favorite among horror fans.
This is such a fun movie to watch for a variety of reasons. The acting was pretty good, with Tom Atkins doing a fantastic job as Ray Cameron while Jason Lively (Chris), Steve Marshall (J.C.) and Jill Whitlow (Cynthia) doing equally well in their roles. The story was great, with a lot of nods to classic movies like Night Of The Living Dead and Invasion Of The Body Snatchers being given an 80’s twist that makes the movie very enjoyable. I also liked that the names of the characters were nods to various directors, such as George Romero, James Cameron, John Carpenter, and more. The special effects were pretty good although I will admit that the aliens did look pretty silly. A fun horror/comedy that is worth watching for some light-hearted humor.
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5