If you haven’t seen Fred Dekker’s Night of the Creeps, you should get on that immediately. It’s a super-fun and completely over-the-top undead fest that combines classic ‘50s sci-fi elements and ‘80s gore - including aliens, evil slugs, zombies, sororities, and Tom Atkins. While the different plot points might seem at odds in the hands of another filmmaker, Dekker combines them perfectly into a film that is, much like his later films The Monster Squad and yes, Robocop 3, a love letter to his favorite movies.
The story follows Chris Romero and his best-friend J.C. as they attempt to win the attention of Chris’s crush, Cynthia Cronenberg, but instead end up re-animating a slug-filled corpse and spreading a zombie slug plague around campus. I can’t get into the finer points of the plot, because I can spend hours on the zombie cat, and I really want to talk about awesome sidekick J.C. (James Carpenter for those of you keeping track.)
J.C. is one of the more unlikely horror sidekicks we’ve covered. First off, it’s not often we see anyone with a physical disability in a horror film, and when we do, it’s just something that serves to slow them down. Not true for J.C. The disability doesn’t stop him from sticking to his best friend’s side until the bitter end. Secondly, though it's common practice to write sidekicks with crushes on their BFFs, J.C. is openly in love with Chris -- quite progressive on Dekker's part -- making his devotion that much more moving and the character one of a kind.
Film: Night of the Creeps
Sidekick: J.C. Cooper (Steve Marshall)
Why this Sidekick Is Better Than the Lead: J.C.’s wisecracking disposition and self-deprecating humor make him entirely memorable and lovable, and ground the level of absurdity in the film.
Moment of Glory: (Spoilers here) In a heart-breaking moment, J.C. sacrifices himself for his best friend, leaving this recorded message:
"Chris...There's one inside me. Got in through my mouth. I can feel it. It's in my brain. I don't have a pulse. Or a heartbeat. Think I'm dead. I killed one. I lit a match to it. Seems like fire will kill them. I went down to the furnace room. In the basement. If I don't come back... Heat will kill them. I walked, Chris. All by myself - I walked. I love you. Good luck with Cynthia."
Moment of Gory: “How about getting the shit scared out of you by a creepy scary dead guy in a refrigerated coffin?” J.C. and Chris find a “corpsicle.”