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Blu-ray Review: NIGHT OF THE CREEPS (COLLECTOR’S EDITION)

Dec 04 Posted by in DVD/Blu-ray, Reviews | Comments

Even though I grew up in the 1980s, I never really started to watch horror films until the 1990s, so there are a lot of classic 80’s horror that I’ve never seen. One of these films is 1986’s Night of the Creeps.

As the film opens, an alien is aboard his spaceship, desperately running away from other aliens with guns. He holds some sort of experiment stored in a large tube, which he manages to launch off the ship. On Earth, it is 1959, and sorority girl Pam has just recently broken up with her cop boyfriend. She is now on a date with new guy Johnny (Ken Heron). They are stargazing from their parked car when they see an item fall from the sky and crash into the woods. As Johnny approaches the crash site, a slug-like creature escapes from the debris and leaps into his mouth. Meanwhile, Pam is waiting in the car, where she hears a news report that an axe-wielding serial killer has escaped from the Crestridge Institute for the Criminally Insane. As a zombie-like Johnny makes his way back towards the car, it’s too late…the escaped lunatic has already found Pam.

Cut to 1986, where it’s pledge week at Corman University. Roommates Chris (Jason Lively) and J.C. (Steve Marshall) are walking down fraternity row when Chris sees sorority girl Cynthia (Jill Whitlow) and is immediately smitten with her. He’s too scared to say anything, but that doesn’t stop his fast-talking best friend from asking her out on Chris’ behalf. Cynthia is already dating a guy from Beta House, so the only way that Chris will have any shot with Cindy is to go Greek. The guys decide to pledge the fraternity, and one of the tasks they are given is to obtain a body from the morgue to use as a prank on one of the other fraternities. The guys reluctantly proceed, but instead of the morgue, they end up at an unusual campus lab. They accidentally thaw out Johnny’s body, which had been cryogenically frozen for the past 25 years, along with the space slug that had bored into Johnny’s brain and laid its eggs. These parasitic “creeps” start to multiply and seek out new brains to infect, taking over more student bodies, causing a zombie outbreak on campus.

Many of the fraternity and sorority members seem oblivious to what’s going on, and just go on with their daily routines, planning for the big semi-formal. However, Chris and J.C. quickly realize they need to do something to stop these extraterrestrial zombie parasites before it’s too late. Joining them in their efforts to wage war on the brain slugs are Cindy and veteran cop Ray Cameron (Tom Atkins)—the man who lost his love Pam to the axe-wielding killer decades earlier.

I knew nothing about this film going in, except that the writer/director was Fred Dekker, who also created one of my all-time favorites, The Monster Squad. This film has a similar blend of humor and horror, though it is a little more on the campy side than The Monster Squad is. I ended up really enjoying this movie. The friendship between Chris and J.C. feels very natural and real. It is never really addressed or explained why J.C. is on crutches, but you get the sense that this is a long-term disability and not an injury. J.C. is the more outgoing and humorous one of the duo, but he’s not the one who usually gets the girl. So he lives his life vicariously through his best friend, happy to see his buddy succeed. On the other end of the spectrum you’ve got this grizzled loner of a cop, Ray Cameron, who lost the love of his life, and is still seeking revenge. So when these alien slugs start attacking innocent people, it gives him a chance to feel like he can finally help someone. What results is a campy thriller about some teens and an old cop trying to take down alien slugs before they turn the entire campus into brain-seeking zombies. There’s lots of over-the-top death scenes, with zombies, exploding heads, leaping slugs, and a flamethrower.

Shout! Factory’s Blu-ray release looks and sounds great. The picture has really black blacks, and just a pleasant amount of grain—though the opening black & white sequence is slightly grainier than the rest of the film. For the most part, the special effects still hold up today, as faces split open to reveal more creeps, or the slugs crawl across the floor or jump into another victim’s mouth, or as the zombies make their way across campus. There are a few exceptions—in one scene you can actually see the fishing line used to drag the creep across the walkway, and in another scene a zombified dog looks more like a comical puppet than scary creature.

For this release, Shout! Factory has included both the theatrical cut and the director’s cut of the film on two separate discs. Almost all of the bonus material from Sony’s previous 2009 DVD release of the director’s cut has been ported over—two audio commentaries on the direct’s cut, a 1-hour making-of retrospective documentary, a 20-minute interview with actor Tom Atkins, and seven deleted scenes. The only things missing are the original theatrical ending (which isn’t really necessary since the full theatrical cut is included) and a text trivia track on the director’s cut. However, Shout! Factory has also added nearly an hour of brand new retrospective interviews and featurettes. The discs come packed in a standard Blu-ray keepcase with a slipcover. Like many other Shout Select releases, the insert inside the cover is reversible, giving the viewer a choice in how to display this title in his or her collection. The alternate view for this title can be seen below:



What’s Included:

Film: (Theatrical Cut 1:28:13, Director’s Cut 1:29:52)

  • 1080p / Widescreen 1.85:1
  • Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Surround, English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo
  • Subtitles: English SDH

Extras:
Includes both the theatrical edition and the director’s cut on two discs. Almost all of the bonus material from Sony’s 2009 DVD release of the Director’s Cut have been ported over, except the film’s original theatrical ending and a pop-up trivia text track. However, since this release also includes the full theatrical cut, the former was not really necessary.

  • DISC ONE: THEATRICAL VERSION
    All of the material on this disc has been ported over from Sony’s 2009 DVD release of the Director’s Cut.

    • Thrill Me!: The Making Of Night Of The Creeps (59:47)
      Originally created for the 2009 DVD release, this five-part documentary on the making of the film features retrospective interviews with writer/director Fred Dekker, editor Michael Knue, producer Charles Gordon, special make-up FX supervisor David B. Miller, special make-up FX creators Howard Berger & Robert Kurtzman, animation effects creator Todd Masters, composer Barry Devorzon, and stars Jill Whitlow (“Cynthia”), Steve Marshall (“J.C.”), Jason Lively (“Chris”), and Tom Atkins (“Ray Cameron”).

      • Birth of the Creeps (10:42)
        The filmmakers talk about how the film came about.
      • Cast of the Creeps (15:58)
        The stars talk about landing the roles, their characters, their favorite lines, working with one another, and more. Also includes footage of the cast together as they reunited to record their commentary.
      • Creating the Creeps (10:33)
        The special FX team talks about creating the zombies—even playing some of the roles themselves—and how they brought the slug creeps and aliens to life.
      • Escape of the Creeps (11:35)
        The filmmakers talk about the post-production of the film, audience preview screening reactions, the alternate spaceship ending versus the theatrical ending, scoring the film, the disappointing theatrical release campaign, and more.
      • Legend of the Creeps (10:59)
        The cast and filmmakers talk about the fan appreciation. Includes footage from the reunion screening and panel at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, TX, and interviews with fans at that event.
    • Tom Atkins: Man Of Action – A Look At The Actor’s Career (19:55)
      Star Tom Atkins (“Detective Ray Cameron”) shares fun and interesting stories from his long and varied acting career.
    • Deleted Scenes (7:39)
      Collection of seven deleted scenes play back-to-back. Presented in 4:3 format.
    • Theatrical Trailer (1:32)
  • DISC TWO: DIRECTOR’S CUT
    All of the material on this disc is brand new, except for the two audio commentaries.

    • Real Good Plan – Interview With Actor Jason Lively (10:46)
      Star Jason Lively (“Chris Romero”) talks about how he got the role, hanging out with the rest of the cast, working with the first time director, night shoots, using the flamethrower, the short theatrical run, and more.
    • The Bradster – An Interview With Actor Allan Kayser (7:42)
      Star Allan Kayser (“Brad”) talks about how he is nothing like the jerk he plays, and shares some behind-the-scenes stories about the production.
    • I Vote For That One – Interview With Actor Ken Heron (10:12)
      Star Ken Heron (“Johnny”) talks about how he got the role, the make-up process, how they got the slug to launch into his mouth, how the slugs moved around, working with the director, some behind-the-scenes stories, the cult following the film received years after its release, and an odd fan encounter.
    • Worst Coroner Ever – Interview With Actor Vic Polizos (6:28)
      Actor Vic Polizos (“Coroner”) talks about how fans recognize him, balancing his day job on St. Elsewhere with the film, how his character is always eating,
    • Answering The Door – Interview With Actress Suzanne Snyder (4:00)
      Actress Suzanne Snyder (“Lisa”) talks about working on horror films even though she doesn’t watch them, the part of her role that was cut from the final film, doing conventions, and why the film has remained popular over time.
    • Final Cut – An Interview With Editor Michael N. Knue (11:21)
      Film editor Michael N. Knue talks about how he got involved with the movie, the challenges of working with film, the most difficult scene to edit, looping the dialogue, reshoots, the various endings that were considered, and more.
    • Horror’s Hallowed Grounds – A Look At The Film’s Locations Today (10:56)
      Horror’s Hallowed Grounds host Sean Clark revisits some of the film’s original shooting locations. He is also joined by writer/director Fred Dekker and star Jason Lively.
    • Audio Commentary With Writer/Director Fred Dekker (1:29:52)
      Michael Felsher of DVD special feature production company Red Shirt Pictures moderates this feature commentary with writer/director Fred Dekker. Dekker provides an interesting discussion on the production, talking about what works and doesn’t work with the film, pointing out some of the homages and references, and sharing some interesting behind-the-scenes stories about the production. He gets quite critical of his own work due to the fact that this was one of his first films.
    • Audio Commentary With Actors Tom Atkins, Jason Lively, Steve Marshall And Jill Whitlow (1:29:52)
      Stars Steve Marshall (“J.C.”), Jill Whitlow (“Cynthia”), Tom Atkins (“Detective Ray Cameron”) and Jason Lively (“Chris”) provide a really fun cast commentary throughout the film. They share lots of entertaining behind-the-scenes stories about the production.

 


Final Thoughts:

My Rating
Film:
Video:
Audio:
Extras:
Highly Recommended

Night of the Creeps is another fun 1980s horror/comedy that should be a welcome addition to any horror fan’s collection. Shout! Factory’s Collector’s Edition Blu-ray looks and sounds great, includes two cuts of the film, along with a nice assortment of bonus material, both ported from the previous DVD release as well as brand new supplements created specifically for this release. If you’re looking for a fun, campy 80s horror film, this is definitely worth checking out.