• Night Of The Creeps (Shout! Factory) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: June 25th, 2019.
    Director: Fred Dekker
    Cast: Jason Lively, Tom Atkins, Jill Whitlow, Steve Marshall
    Year: 1986
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    Night Of The Creeps – Movie Review:

    By Noland Bell.

    I feel a little odd with this reviewing this one, a movie I could recite by heart ever since I first saw it nearly 30 years ago. I promise to try and keep the fanboy-ing to a minimum. So let’s proceed…

    Night of the Creeps is a mixture of 80’s action film, 80’s college comedy, 80’s slasher film and 50’s sci-fi nightmare fuel. The story opens on an alien vessel and a dangerous experiment being fired off in a pod from it. That pod is then found by the hunky quarterback, parking with his main squeeze, who were also just warned about an escaped “mental patient,” by a young cop who’d been the previous love interest of that squeeze. A quick alien infection and swing of a fire axe later, it’s present day “pledge week ‘86” where we meet our main characters Chris (Jason Lively) and JC (Steve Marshall). They soon spot Cynthia (Jill Whitlow) and the story kicks off in earnest.


    Cynthia is dating frat boy mega-douche Brad (Allan Kayser) so Chris and JC try to pledge his fraternity. They’re given the gruesome task of dumping a dead body on the steps of another house. The lads find their way to the medical school basement and an advanced cryogenics chamber, housing the infected body of the hunky quarterback seen earlier in the movie. While attempting to remove this body it awakens, terrifying Chris and JC and sending them screaming and running away. The corpse, though, has other plans, killing a grad student and eventually finding his way to Cynthia’s window, where his head explodes, releasing the deadly brain slugs - the type that initially infected him.

    During this activity we’re then lead to the introduction of Detective Ray Cameron (Tom Atkins, in a career-defining role), having a pleasant dream of being on a beach, enticed by his old flame from the opening scene. But he’s startled awake by a phone call, summoning him to the lab. His Raymond Chandler-esque style stands in stark contrast to his surroundings but he’s clearly the one in charge, the one everyone looks up to. He’s soon then called to the sorority and the corpse there, triggering some expositional flashbacks for his character.

    Cut to the next day with Chris and JC confronted by Brad and his cronies that they screwed up but the boys maintain their innocence. This leads to Cynthia siding with them after Brad’s jerkish accusations. It also leads to the boys getting hauled in by Cameron and questioned. But he quickly gets to the heart of the mattering, realizing Chris and JC really had little to do with the previous night’s activities, and thus making him worried.

    Later that night, a brain-slug-infected cat sends Cynthia to Chris and JC, looking for some kind of comfort and understanding. While she and Chris work things out, JC goes off and, sadly, gets infected - but not before he’s able to find a weakness of the brain slugs and make a tape recording for his buddy, alerting him to all this. Cynthia asks Chris out to the formal the next night and before he can celebrate too much Cameron confronts him, taking him back to his apartment and giving him his full story. The detective confesses to murdering the mental patient that killed his girl all those years prior and hiding the body in the grounds where Cynthia’s sorority’s matron now lives. Which is timely, since the brain slugs find that old body and resurrect him, axe in hand and soon the world’s short on sorority matron (whatever that is, even in 1986).

    So, another body, another call to Cameron, interrupting his reverie. He grabs his shotgun and Chris (whom he’s taken to calling, “Spanky” now) and, soon, the detective is face-to-face with his old enemy. A head explosion later and more brain slugs are released but, this time, they at least find a sad, drunk Brad. Later, while he’s getting ready for his formal date with Cynthia, Chris finds JC’s recording and, soon, the burned-out corpse of his best friend. He goes then, sobbingly, with all this information to Cameron, who switches into full action mode now.

    A bus full of frat boys crashes, gets infected, and they then make their way to Cynthia’s sorority - hey, at least they’re committed. Meanwhile, Cynthia meets “Brad,” not wanting to make eye contact since she’s explaining why they’re breaking up, and thus not seeing that he’s a brain-slug-barfing zombie. That is, until Chris and Cameron show up, this time not only with a shotgun but, also, with a flamethrower procured reluctantly from the police armory (run by Dick Miller!). What follows can only be described as wondrous insanity as Cameron, Chris and Cynthia attempt to protect themselves and the sorority from the zombie frat boy invasion.

    This all climaxes in the best possible way, leaving the happy couple surviving to fight another day…or does it (insert 80’s-style final shot twist ending here, much to the director’s chagrin)?

    Editor’s Note – Also, Robert Kerman shows up here playing a cop and there’s rad Stryper graffiti visible in the bathroom scene. What more do you need?

    Night Of The Creeps – Blu-ray Review:

    By Ian Jane

    Shout! Factory brings Night Of The Creeps to Blu-ray in North America for a second time, with the theatrical cut and director’s cut each given their own 50GB disc that presents the film in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and framed in its proper 1.85.1 aspect ratio. The transfers are solid through and through, both look pretty much identical. Picture quality is good. Very good. There’s nice detail throughout and the image retains an appropriately filmic texture from start to finish. Neither disc shows any problematic compression, and there are no problems with any noise reduction or edge enhancement to note.

    Audio options are provided in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio and DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo for both versions of the film. Subtitles are available in English only. The 5.1 tracks spread out the effects and the score nicely enough while the 2.0 tracks sound more authentic. Either way, the audio here is clean and clear and free of any problems.

    Extras are spread out over the two discs in this set as follows:

    Disc One:

    This disc contains the twenty-minute Tom Atkins: Man Of Action featurette which takes a look back at the storied actor’s career. He talks about how he got into acting when he lived in Pittsburgh and tells some fun stories from his early days there before then going on to discuss working with an agent to get a part on Broadway, some early auditions that he went on, working with Frank Sinatra, doing some work in Vienna with William Peter Blatty on The Ninth Configuration, working with Carpenter on The Fog and Escape From New York, his thoughts on Halloween III: Season Of The Witch and what that was like to work on and then, of course, his thoughts on Night Of The Creeps and his experiences working on it.

    Also included here is the lengthy Thrill Me! - The Making Of Night Of The Creeps that is broken down into five parts as follows:

    Birth Of The Creeps is an eleven-minute segment that that features interviews with Jill Whitlow, Steve Marshall, Michael Knue and Fred Dekker and producer Charles Gordon. The actors speak about what Dekker was like to work with on the set and how much fun he was as a director while Dekker himself explains his early years and love of sci-fi and horror before then telling some stories about his early days before the camera. From there we learn about where some of the ideas for the film came from, creating Atkins’ character, working zombies into the movie and then bringing Gordon onboard to produce, and how it inevitably wound up with Tri-Star.

    The sixteen-minute Cast Of The Creeps gets Marshall, Whitlow, Lively and Atkins in front of the camera. The younger stars gush about how great Atkins was to work with while Atkins responds in kind, talks about his love of the character he played and the way the movie turned out. Atkins looks back fondly on the cool car he got to drive, namedropping in the film and more. The other performers share some stories about their work on the film as well, and there’s talk here of how young Dekker was when they all made this film. Everyone looks back on this very, very fondly.

    Creating The Creeps is an eleven-minute piece wherein SFX guru David B. Miller talks about working on this picture after finishing up A Nightmare On Elm Street. He then talks about using people he’d worked with before – Burgman and Kurtzman, Ted Ray and a few others – because he knew the talent that they had and what they could bring to the movie. Berger shows up and talks about doing the sculpting and molding in the film, and Kurtzman offers his thoughts on the film and how many of the effects guys wound up playing the frat guys and then the zombies in the film to save time and money.

    Escape Of The Creeps is a twelve-minute segment where producer Charles Gordon talks about what made this movie different and interesting than the other horror films of the day, while Dekker talks about a disastrous preview screening that an unfinished version of the film had. Editor Michael Knue talks about how important that screening was in helping them shape the finished version of the movie. They then talk about how the movie was rejected by MGM, why the ending of the film was changed and their thoughts on all of this.

    The eleven-minute Legend Of The Creeps takes us to a sold out screening of the film at an Alamo Drafthouse location where the director’s cut screened with Dekker and some of the cast members in attendance. Dekker talks about how great he thinks it is that the film is as fondly remembered as it is, Lively talks about how Dekker combined so many elements from other types of horror movies into this picture, Atkins’ talks about the movie’s charm and how it compares to darker fare like Saw. Some fans show up here too and share their thoughts on the picture.

    Also found on disc one is seven-minutes’ worth of deleted scenes, the film’s original theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection.

    Disc Two:

    Available over the director’s cut of the film are two archival commentary tracks carried over from aforementioned Sony disc. The first track is with writer/director Fred Dekker. The second track gets together cast members Tom Atkins, Jason Lively, Steve Marshall and Jill Whitlow.

    As to the new stuff? There’s actually quite a lot of it here, starting with Horror’s Hallowed Grounds, a twelve-minute exploration of the film’s locations hosted by Sean Clark (sporting a TOM ATKINS RULES shirt) along with director Fred Dekker (also sporting a Tom Atkins shirt) and actor Jason Lively. We get to see Lamda Hall – including the halls but, sadly, not the exact restroom, as well as some of the UCLA locations that were used in the picture. We learn where the studio shots were done and built, how Phil’s Diner wound up where it was, where the bus got overturned, the Kappa Delta House, the ‘walk of zombie killing’ and more.

    Real Good Plan is an interview with actor Jason Lively that runs eleven-minutes. He talks about how he came to be involved with the project by simply auditioning for it, how he originally ready for the role of J.C. and how he was originally bummed until he realized he was getting the lead. He also talks about interacting with Romero at a convention and making a joke, how he got along with his fellow cast members and how they’ve remained friends to this day, working with Dekker and Atkins, and showing up at different frat parties while they were shooting on location.

    The Bradster is an eight-minute interview with actor Alan Kayser who speaks about getting the part, his thoughts on the character, the type of mindset he tried to stay in while shooting the picture, how he feels about the movie years later and his thoughts on playing the ‘jerk’ in the movie. He tells some fun stories from the shoot in this piece as well.

    I Vote For That One is a ten-minute interview with actor Ken Heron where he speaks about how his agent got him an audition, landing the part, how the reading went quite easily, his thoughts on how the movie takes place in two different decades and how that sets the picture apart, how the crew wanted to keep the production quality top notch throughout and to keep things from getting too tongue in cheek, getting his face cast in plaster and undergoing the makeup effects, difficulties getting some of his lines recorded correctly and more.

    Worst Coroner Ever interviews actor Vic Polizos for six-minutes about his education and how he wasn’t trained to work with zombies, his thoughts on horror films (he thinks they’re fun to work on), shooting most of his scenes at night and some of the scheduling problems he ran into during the production while also working on St. Elsewhere and having to eat Twinkies constantly when the cameras were rolling and how tricky this could be to do on cue.

    Answering the Door is a four-minute interview with actress Suzanne Snyder who starts off by talking about how she doesn’t really like horror films and how she didn’t really know Dekker because she didn’t watch horror films but took the part because her agent touted him to her as a hot director. She then talks about her thoughts on the character she played, how she figured it would be a ‘fun and not long shoot,’ and how some of her bits were cut in the finished version of the film. She also notes that this was a shorter shoot then Killer Klowns From Outer Space and Return Of The Living Dead.

    And in Final Cut we spend eleven-minutes with editor Michael Knue who talks about getting to know Dekker from their work together on House, how the producers wanted an experienced editor to be involved with the production, what Dekker’s expectations were during the project, what he tried to do to improve specific parts of the picture in post and more.

    Night Of The Creeps – The Final Word:

    Night Of The Creeps is a stone cold classic of eighties horror cinema and Shout! Factory has brought it back to Blu-ray in grand style with a great presentation, fine audio and more extra features than anyone could realistically hope for. Highly recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Night Of The Creepss Blu-ray screen caps!