I swear I didn’t mean to watch two sorority/frat movies in a row. This isn’t going to become “a thing” – I swear. But fate is a strange mistress. This week’s movie, though, is decidedly different than Sorority Babes and the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rama. If Weird Science and Invasion of the Body Snatchers had a baby, it would be Night of the Creeps.
The movie opens up in outer space. An alien that looks like a mutated Garbage Pail Kid runs through a spaceship, being pursued by two others. He’s carrying a cannister that he shoots off into space, which is obviously a bad thing. But I don’t know why he’s so certain that this cannister is definitely going to land on a planet with lifeforms like Earth.
But it’s 1959 and while aliens exist, the people of this little university of something else pretty bad to deal with (and I’m not talking about finding a date to the formal). A man has escaped from a local mental institution. But dream-boat Johnny is not interested in listening to the news bulletin and turns off the radio, unwilling to listen. This seems like a pretty stupid idea for anyone who lives near a mental institution.
Johnny takes out his girl out on a date where they are told to leave by the girl’s ex-boyfriend. The cannister is then showing falling through Earth’s atmosphere, landing in the nearby woods. So the couple take off. Johnny heads into the woods to check things out, leaving his girl to be killed off by the axe-wielding mental patient.
But as Johnny discovers the cannister, he’s immediately attacked by something inside.
Flash forward to 1986. Chris Romero (played by Jason Lively of that Lively family, who played Rusty in National Lampoon’s European Vacation) is a bit of a geek. But at least his best friend is James Carpenter “JC” Hooper, who is hands-down one of the best sidekick characters written this side of John Hughes.
During rush week, Chris falls for Cynthia Cronenberg (Jill Whitlow). She’s a lovely sorority sister, but is of course dating the ruthless protagonist of the story – a frat boy with Replicas-era Gary Numan hair named “Brad” because every evil boy is named Brad.
Chris is pretty stupid, and believes that the only way that Cynthia will ever pay attention to him is by joining a frat. JC knows this is a load of shit, but since he loves his friend, he begrudgingly agrees to approach Brad’s frat.
Brad sends the two boys off to steal a cadaver from a lab and leave it on the steps of a sorority house. This cadaver could only be the preserved body of Johnny from 1959. He’s in a state of stasis that the two idiots wake up.
Johnny is still possessed by the strange leech-slugs that attached him decades earlier. But the boys escape his grasps, only to have the nearby scientist become possessed instead. This is the pattern for the slugs: possess, move on, let corpses lie dead.
Being identified by the janitor, JC and Chris are brought into police questioning after the cadaver attempted to creep on Cynthia and his body found on the sorority steps. Police detective Ray Cameron seems to think that the body is linked to the name night back in 1959 since the leeches leaving the body make the exploded heads look like an axe wound to the head.
Cynthia seeks out JC and Chris and asks them for their help. But while Chris and Cynthia take a romantic stroll together, JC is attacked by the leeches while sitting in the loo. But on the bright side, Chris gets invited by Cynthia to the formal
Chris begins to buy into Cynthia’s story and goes to speak to Cameron about the night the Johnny found the cannister. It’s revealed that Cameron has a close connection to the strange night in 1959. He was the ex-boyfriend policeman. But his story continues the night’s events further. He saw the bodies of the couple, but decided to take revenge upon himself – killing the axe-murderer and burying the corpse under the place where the house mother’s hut not stands. He’s interested in the story because, of course, this man must not truly be dead.
The axe-murderer does rise from his grave, to kill the house mother and have his head explode. The slug-leeches begin to roam free on the town and take down the locals.
But this is still the night of the formal, and Chris has his date with Cynthia. While he is sprucing himself up, he notices that his missing friend has left a message on the tape recorder for him. JC’s message tell Chris how to destroy the monsters: fire.
Chris acquires the assistance of Cameron, and after picking up some flame throwers, head straight to the sorority to help. Everything is pure insanity. As Cynthia tries to break up with a possessed Brad, he begins throwing up slugs and is immediately set on fire by Chris and Cameron.
Things begin to go down when this little gem of dialogue sneaks up:
Detective C: I got good news and bad news, girls. The good news is your dates are here.
Sorority Gal: What’s the bad news?
Detective C: They’re dead.
Yes, the frat boys are all also possessed and all their girlfriends get to watch as the boys get set on fire by their sister, Cynthia!
The climax is silly, a tad bit ridiculous, but completely works 100%. I’m glad I never saw this movie when I was younger or I think I would have gone every Halloween as Cynthia, who is truly a badass of horror cinema. Prom dresses and flame-throwers need to become fashionable again, clearly.
Night of the Creeps is definitely a movie that I ended up liking a whole lot more than I thought I would. That doesn’t sound quiet right, though. I loved, loved, loved this movie a whole fucking lot.
“Underrated” is a pretty gross word. People love to abuse it. But I feel a bit shocked that this isn’t one of the more loved horror comedies. The characters are well-written, the acting is good, the in-jokes are entertaining and most importantly: it’s a whole lot of fun. So many of the characters move beyond the lazy tropes that they could have been, but in some pretty subtle ways. Jill Whitlow has joined the ranks of some of my favourite ladies in horror.
So, if you are as far-behind on life as I am: do yourself a favour and do nothing else until you’ve watched Night of the Creeps.