Of all the obscure horror flicks studios pick to make the jump from tape to digital, you'd think a much-loved horror/comedy classic like Fred Dekker’s Night of the Creeps would have long been at the top of somebody's list somewhere, dontcha? I know I did. But, as the years passed, and I continued to amass an ever-growing collection of third-rate slashers, T&A filled teen romps, and neon-infused crime capers, there was a gaping hole in my eighties collection, waiting to be filled by a proper DVD release of this cult-classic.
I won't pretend to know why Creeps spent so much time in DVD limbo, but can only assume it was wrapped up in some sort of red tape, bound and gagged in a ditch somewhere, whimpering alongside a battered VHS copies of The Stepfather, Hardware, and a handful of other ‘80’s staples that have, as of this writing, only recently made the jump to DVD. To be honest, I don’t even care where it’s been; all that matters now is that Night of the Creeps is finally here, in a feature-packed, completely remastered special edition DVD (and Blu-ray), that, in the words of a far more enlightened generation, is totally awesome, dude.
Chris and J.C. (Jason Lively and Steve Marshall) are a pair of college outcasts who pledge a fraternity to impress Cynthia (Jill Whitlow), a girl that Chris has his designs on. While the frat has no intention of welcoming the boys into the fold, they aren't above exploiting Chris and J.C.'s enthusiasm, and assign them a task; steal a body from the school's morgue, and dump it on the steps of a local sorority house. Chris and J.C. attempt to carry out their assignment, and sneak into the school's lab where they discover a cryogenically frozen body. The boys remove the body from stasis, but are scared off when a lab technician catches them in the act, and the two race back to their dorm, where Chris mourns the loss of his one chance to impress the lovely Cynthia. However, what the two boys don't realize is that the body they freed from stasis housed a parasitic alien species that feeds on human brains, turning their hosts into shambling zombies. The walking corpse ends up on the steps of Cynthia's dorm, where she sees the alien menace firsthand, and turns to the "understanding" Chris. With the help of the mentally unstable detective Ray Cameron (a gloriously over-the-top Atkins), the kids set out to destroy the alien menace before the creatures ruin the fall formal.
Night of the Creeps is an hysterically funny cross-genre homage that combines elements from 50's schlock sci-fi and Romero-style zombie flicks, tying it all together with smart screenplay, hilarious sight-gags, and loads of convincing gore. This is most definitely an 80’s film, with ultra-dated fashions, music, and some “bodacious” dialogue, but it all still holds up surprisingly well. Sure, some of the performances are a bit weak, and Dekker occasionally interjects moments of levity that seem entirely out of place, but Night of the Creeps is such a tremendously fun and funny flick that it makes it easy to overlook any of its shortcomings.
Finally available on DVD, fans can now retire their worn out full-frame VHS copies and revel in a squeaky clean, all new 1.85:1 widescreen version of the film, complete with Fred Dekker’s original ending, awesomely retro packaging and menus, and an absolute treasure-trove of fantastic supplements.
The new 1.85:1 transfer looks very good, offering a nicely contrasted image that offers rich black levels and wonderful color separation. While there’s an omnipresent cinematic grain, as well as a few artifacts here and there (more noticeable in the previously “lost footage” sequences that have been re-added to the film), the overall image is very pleasing. The 5.1 Dolby DTS soundtrack is a well-mixed affair, with crisp dialogue and a nicely immersive surround sound mix.
The extras offered here are nothing short of fantastic, with a pair of feature length commentaries (one with Dekker, the other with castmembers Lively, Marshall, Atkins, and Whitlow), a feature-length five-part retrospective entitled Thrill Me: Making 'Night of the Creeps', a short Tom Atkins-centric featurette entitled Tom Atkins: Man of Action, several deleted scenes, the original theatrical ending and trailer, and more.
Fans of this film have been clamoring for a DVD of it since…well…since the medium first launched! It’s taken a lot of time, a lot of write-in campaigns, and a lot of patience, but Sony has finally delivered this beloved cult-classic in a set that is nothing less than an open love letter to the fans. Consider this one a must-have!