Review: 'Night of the Creeps' Blu-ray

"Thrill me."

It's a line spoken (relatively) early and (amusingly) often in the 1986 sci-fi / horror flick known as Night of the Creeps, and that's precisely how the longtime fans of this certifiable cult classic will feel upon diving into the long-overdue special edition Blu-ray. To a lot of horror fans, writer/director Fred Dekker would be the equivalent of a baseball player who showed up and had one amazing season ... before promptly vanishing. But while baseball players generally leave only stats and memories in their wake, Mr. Dekker delivered two colorful little concoctions that never seem to stop earning new fans.

The first (actually his second) film was the well-adored Monster Squad, which is best described as Stand By Me meets The Munsters, and the second (actually his first) is the slightly more mature, but no less entertaining, movie stew known as Night of the Creeps. Subjected to a subpar "regional" release by its original distributor, Night of the Creeps became a bona-fide fan favorite only a few short months after it hit the VHS and HBO circuit. It's the kind of movie that might come up in "normal" movie geek conversation, and the guy who brought it up was instantly considered a genius. "Yes! Night of the Creeps! What a cool flick. (pause) Why isn't that on DVD yet?"

Well, now it is. And in lovely Blu-ray, no less!

The plot is an endearingly rickety framework on which is hung a "B-movie greatest hits" package. We open with alien invasions and axe murderers before switching over to collegiate hijinks and space-slug zombie invasions. (I wonder if it ever occurred to Dekker to turn this project into an anthology piece, so colorfully eclectic are his ingredients.) Sure, you'll find a few seams where all the different sub-genres are stitched together, but if that's the sort of thing you're focused on, then Night of the Creeps is probably not the flick for you. But the bulk of the story focuses on two college nerds (Jason Lively and Steve Marshall) who unwittingly unleash an alien plague while trying to pledge a fraternity in order to (you guessed it) woo a lovely young lass.

So one on hand you've got these crazy space slugs all over the place, and on the other ... oh yeah, the space slugs turn humans into zombies. Did I not mention that?

Scattered across the whole of Night of the Creeps is horror-nerd nirvana. Yep, all the key characters are named after famous horror-makers. Yep, the old lady about to get chomped is actually watching Plan 9 from Outer Space. Best of all, the movie all but oozes a child-like enthusiasm for good ol' matinee-style B-movies. Based only on two directorial efforts, I sense a distinct vibe of Joe Dante-style playfulness from Fred Dekker, and while I'm disappointed that the guy never made more movies ... there's always something to be said for a guy whose career batting average is 1.000.

And then there's the issue of the goodies. As if in apology for such a ridiculously long wait, the fine folks at Sony have delivered a massive treat for Creeps fans. You'll get two audio commentaries (one with Mr. Dekker and excellent producer / moderator Mike Felsher; the other with cast members Jason Lively, Steve Marshall, the still-adorable Jill Whitlow, and the ass-kickin' Tom Atkins), a solid 60-minute retrospective featurette that covers all the bases; an additional piece on the great character actor Tom Atkins, the original theatrical ending*, and a nifty little "trivia track" that you can play while one of the commentaries rolls.

*Oh yes! This is the "director's cut" of Night of the Creeps, although the only change is in the finale.

Anyway, it was a long time coming, but Night of the Creeps is back, and it absolutely deserves a spot in a genre fan's collection. It's easily one of the best "catalog title" DVDs of the year.