Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Tom Atkins, Jason Lively, Steve Marshall, Jill Whitlow
Directed by Fred Dekker
Distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
As I sit down to type out this review, I nearly have to pinch myself to make sure that it’s really happening. Not only am I reviewing an actual home video release of the 1986 Fred Dekker classic Night of the Creeps, but I’m reviewing its Blu-ray release of all things! Never mind all that 2012 crap … this has got to be a sure sign of the apocalypse!
For those of you who haven’t seen this movie (and shame on you if you haven’t), Night of the Creeps centers upon what happens in 1959 when an alien holding tank filled with evil slug-like creatures who possess the power to raise the dead plummets to Earth. Fortunately for us these creatures don’t make it very far and eventually end up laying dormant in the frozen body of an infected man. Several decades later two students find themselves in need of a dead body to pull off a college prank, and it just so happens there’s one frozen in the bowels of their university research facility. Can you see where this is going? Once out of his stasis chamber, our “corpse” thaws, reanimates, and ignites a slug-fueled zombie-palooza! Can anyone save us from this madness? Hell, yes! Enter suicidal and totally cranky police detective Ray Cameron, or as he’s otherwise know — Tom Fuckin’ Atkins! Need I say more? Didn’t think so.
I’m not going to bother explaining why this film is a classic. Just see the damned thing. If you don’t have a good time with it, then check your pulse and see a doctor stat. Night of the Creeps is so very good at being so very bad that its charm is not only infectious, it’s just plain undeniable!
And these DVD and Blu-ray packages will have fans grinning from ear-to-ear. First on deck are not one but two commentary tracks. The first with writer/director Fred Dekker and Mike Felsher of Red Shirt Pictures (who brought the special features here by the truckload) is funny, informative, and covers every base you could possibly want covered. From there we go to the cast track with Steve Marshall, Jill Whitlow, Tom Atkins, and Jason Lively. This one is a bit more laid back than Dekker’s track and is brimming with the gang joking around and reminiscing about the shoot while offering a heaping helping of insight on what the shoot was like and the climate of filmmaking back then. Both of these are must listens, and to further sweeten the supplement pot, you can even choose to watch the film with or without the commentaries while a pop-up trivia track plays along. Neat!
Now on to the featurettes! Man, what a haul! Thrill Me: Making Night of the Creeps can be watched in either five different parts or as a whole clocking in at just under an hour. Here’s a quick segment breakdown — Birth of the Creeps covers the genesis of the film as Dekker discusses inspirations, influences, etc. Cast of the Creeps pretty much speaks for itself in terms of content as does Creating the Creeps. Escape of the Creeps focuses on audience reaction to test screenings and the infamous different endings. Legend of the Creeps takes us to the June 13, 2009, Director’s Cut screening of the film and features cast, crew, and fans waxing on about the entirety of the Night of the Creeps experience. Really good stuff, but it doesn’t end there.
Next on tap is the Tom Atkins: Man of Action featurette, which clocks in at about twenty minutes and focuses on the man, the myth, the badass legend who is Tom Atkins. This is an absolute must watch for fans as it covers a great deal of the man’s career. Add in seven deleted scenes, the original theatrical ending (the long fabled graveyard ending is what caps off the feature; listen to the commentaries to find out why), and the original theatrical trailer; and we are done! Phew!
Night of the Creeps is a classic in every sense of the word. Sony Pictures has done an amazing job bringing this one home in style that almost seems worth the unbearable wait we had to endure. I know what Blu-ray has my vote for best of the year. Thrill me? Mission accomplished!
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review
Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo
Directed by Colin Bemis
Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.
The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.
As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!
Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.
Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.
In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.
On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.
In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.
Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)
We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.
In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.
Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!
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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View
Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly
Directed by Marcel Sarmiento
Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as
17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?
What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.
Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?
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