Corman University is the most prestigious film school in the world. You can go to AFI, NYU, USC or UCLA, but all pale in comparison to Corman U. Among those who proudly attended are Ron Howard, Jonathan Demme, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, John Sayles, Amy Holden Jones and James Cameron. While this wasn’t an accredited academic institution, those that showed up at New World Pictures were given an education on low budget filmmaking and the lucky ones graduated with a feature film as their diploma. Even after all these decades, Roger is still producing films and teaching a new generation the theories of low budgets with big visions. While the concept of Corman University has been bantered about 1986’s Night of the Creeps took us on the campus of this hollowed institution as if it were a college. Strangely enough writer-director Fred Dekker (Monster Squad), didn’t graduate from Corman University, but Night of the Creeps proves he spiritually attended CU.
Somewhere in the universe there’s a battle going on between aliens inside a spaceship. Lasers are being zapped around as a rogue alien fires a canister into space. Turns out the space is right above 1959 Earth. A college couple are parked and looking for fun even though there’s a report of killer having escaped from a nearby mental institution. The only thing that stops the guy from going all the way is the sight of a falling star that hits nearby. He goes to investigate while his date sits in the convertible. She doesn’t notice the guy in the hospital robe dragging an ax near the car. Bad things happen to both the guy and the girl and they didn’t even get beyond second base. Time flies and we’re back at Corman University in 1986. Chris Romero (National Lampoon’s European Vacation‘s Jason Lively) is heartbroken and roaming the frats during pledge week with his buddy J.C. Hooper (Steve Marshall) for cheap entertainment. He falls quickly for Cynthia Cronenberg (Weird Science‘s Jill Whitlow) and wants to pledge Beta Epsilon to impress her. What he doesn’t know is her boyfriend is the head of Beta Epsilon. In order to get considered for the frat, Romero must swipe a cadaver from the med school and dump it at a rival frat house. J.C. helps him on his quest except they screw up and discover what happened to the guy who found the falling star all those years ago. This unleashes a nightmare on Corman University There’s only one person that can stop this: Detective Ray Cameron (The Fog‘s Tom Atkins). He investigated the couple on that nightmarish night in the ’50s.
The film is amazingly fun for fans of Corman University and just normal viewers. The blend of science fiction, horror and campus comedy tastes so good. Part of it is having Tom Atkins as the bartender stirring things with his shotgun. His detective has a great moment when he announces to the sorority girls that their dates have arrives, but they’re not exactly fresh.
Night of the Creeps wasn’t given a high profile release back in the late summer of 1986. While Tristar sent out presskits often for their films to my student paper at NC State, Night of the Creeps didn’t show up in the mail. The film only opened in 70 theater so it seemed to be the bare minimum to meet the contract. Which is a shame since if they’d just waited until early October, they would have had a great back to college Halloween film. Luckily this was around the birth of the video age and Night of the Creeps became a hit on rental VHS. What student didn’t want to see frat boys turned into zombies? This was like Revenge of the Nerds meets Night of the Living Dead. There was a demand for that kinda film in the mid-80s. The good news is that today’s incoming freshman can watch this anytime of the year and be reminded that there’s dangers to pledging to a frat like being turned into an undead zombie.
Night of the Creeps: Collector’s Edition is a Night of the Creeps convention on two Blu-ray discs. Only thing missing from the boxset is a Corman University t-shirt.
The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The transfer brings out the special effects as the creeps invade the college. The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD MA Surround and 2.0 DTS-HD MA Stereo for the original theatrical mix. These are featured on both the theatrical and director’s cuts.
Director’s Cut (89:52) has a slightly different cut with the alternate ending.
Audio Commentaries are only on the Director’s Cut. The first has Fred Dekker talk about the film he wrote and directed. He talks of what it took to get into the chair. The second track unites actors Tom Atkins, Jason Lively, Steve Marshall and Jill Whitlow. They have good feelings about the production and are amazed that the film is so beloved after a horrible release. There’s talk of how it played on USA’s Up All Night weekend movie marathon.
Thrill Me – The Making of Night of the Creeps (59:46) is a five part series that delves into how Fred Dekker got his film made. The cast really enjoyed working with Fred on the film. There’s talk about the legacy of the film even with its botched release by the studio.
Tom Atkins – Man of Action (19:55) meets up with the actor back in Pittsburgh. He talks about how he went from Broadway to Frank Sinatra’s The Detective. For those who have enjoyed Atkins being interview with Svengoolie, get to learn more about the cinema legend. If you buy the deluxe edition of the Blu-ray, there’s a Tom Atkins action figure.
Deleted Scenes (7:39) include more footage of the creepy crawlies and Detective Cameron.
Theatrical Trailer (1:32) promises these kids the night of their life. Tom gets his great quip about the dates showing up at the sorority.
Real Good Plan (10:46) interviews Jason Lively. He was reading for J.C., but found himself being asked to take the lead role of Romero. He was thrilled to work with Roger Corman legend Dick Miller.
The Bradster (7:42) chats with Allan Kayser. Everyone tells him that Bradster was based on their frat president.
I Voted For That One (10:12) brings Ken Heron into the modern times. He was the boyfriend from the ’50s. This is one of the better projects in his career.
Worst Coroner Ever (6:28) meets up with Vic Polizos. He says most people recognize him as someone they knew. He gives the secret of all his on screen Twinkie eating.
Answering the Door (4:00) knocks on Suzanne Snyder. She doesn’t like horror films because it scares her although she has done many including Return of the Living Dead and Killer Klowns From Outer Space.
Final Cut (11:21) gets a slice with editor Michael N. Knue. He ended up on the film after working on House. He didn’t realize how much of a comedy it was when he accepted the job.
Horror’s Hallowed Grounds (10:56) has Sean Clark take us on a trip around the locations from the film that are still standing. He visits all three college campuses that were used in the movie to create Corman University. Dekker graduated from UCLA. He gives us a Cobra Kai bonus. Horror’s Hallowed Grounds is always must see bonus feature.
Scream Factory presents Night of the Creeps. Directed by Fred Dekker. Screenplay by: Fred Dekker. Starring: Jason Lively, Steve Marshall, Jill Whitlow, Allan Kayser & Tom Atkins. Rated: R. Running Time: 88 minutes. Released: June 25, 2019.
Tags: Night of the Creeps, Roger Corman, Scream Factory, Tom Atkins