Aliens in bad rubber costumes, 1950s throwbacks in black and white, ax-wielding psychopaths, slug monsters, zombies, a detective with a dark past, and a full helping of campy 80s B-movie humor—this is the masterpiece that is Night of the Creeps. The recipe for this cult-classic sounds absurd. What the hell kind of movie has all that in it without being completely ridiculous? Somehow, Night of the Creeps managed to pull it off.
Released in 1986, starring Jason Lively, Steve Marshall, and Tom Atkins, the film starts with a scene that doesn’t fit the rest of the movie at all—aliens on a spacecraft. Yes, aliens. In cheesy rubber costumes. They even went as far as adding subtitles in both English, and for some reason, the alien’s language as well. This is an odd but lovable detail, especially for this kind of movie.
After that it jumps to old-school black and white, representative of scenes that happen in the 50s. Although it’s been done before, the style during these scenes bring a unique quality to this type of 80s horror. And they add a backstory to everything that happens later. Slasher films weren’t common in the 50s, but had their golden era in the 80s. That’s what makes ax-wielding psychopath so special. Night of the Creeps has 80s written all over it, but the killer is in the black and white 50s scenes—a nice twist to the mashup.
When the story jumps forward to 1986, it’s literally saturated with everything 80s. Frat parties, nerds, jocks, it’s all there. Jason Lively from National Lampoon’s European Vacation just tops it off. Adding to the B-movie humor, the homicide detective is given some of the worst lines of dialogue. But if you love that campy 80s style, it’s perfect. They bring that element to the movie while leaving the rest of the characters with more serious lines.
Although the ‘zombies’ in Night of the Creeps aren’t really zombies, at least not the Romero variety, they’re damn close. I won’t spoil the movie, but they have something to do with the aliens and slug monsters, and when everything comes together, all the unusual aspects of this film create a masterpiece that still shines over thirty years later.