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Fred Dekker Talks ‘Night of the Creeps’

27 Oct, 2009 By: Billy Gil

Night of the Creeps

Night of the Creeps isn’t a horror film, or an ’80s teen comedy, or an alien sci-fi film — it’s all of those things. It’s no wonder the film never really made it to the same echelon as movies like Evil Dead or Nightmare on Elm Street, despite sharing similar qualities, as the movie unsettlingly hops from genre to genre. What other movie starts with a claymation alien invasion, moves to a Revenge of the Nerds style frat comedy and ends up in monster movie territory?

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released the film on DVD and Blu-ray Disc today, in a director’s cut that includes Fred Dekker’s original ending. The discs also include such special features as commentary with Dekker, commentary with the cast, deleted scenes and making-of featurettes. We spoke with Dekker about his long-unreleased film.

IndieFile: This DVD has the ending you originally intended. Were you urged to change it?

Dekker: It was very much a compromise, a disagreement between myself and the studio that arose because the [intended] graveyard ending required a CG shot. I made the mistake of showing it to the audience in an unfinished form, and it was confusing to them and the studios. So they said, let’s change the ending. It gave it that Friday the 13th style cheap scare at the end. I’ve always hated that ending. So when Sony asked, “What you want to do?” I said, “I want to put the ending back on.”

IndieFile: It does tie it back to the beginning of film.

Dekker: It closes the circle. I’m a big fan of that in movies.

IndieFile: What were some of your inspirations making this film?

Dekker: I think they’re pretty apparent in the film. Obviously Night of the Living Dead, the Romero trilogy as I think of it. Day of the Dead, which is my favorite. Alien was obviously an influence in terms of the space critter that gestates inside the body. There was a huge — strangely enough, I only realized this since his death — but john Hughes was a huge influence as well. And then there were those cheesy ’50s movies like The Blob and It Came from Outer Space that informed it.

It just occurred to me that I just watched [REC], which I really liked a lot, and as I was watching I was thinking, “OK, they’re starting with a Blair Witch approach, then it starts to get scary and we’re getting into Night of the Living Dead, 28 Days Later territory, then there’s a little Exorcist in there,” and I was thinking, “Oh! This is a mashup.” And I was thinking of how there are these things on the Internet where they take two movies that are completely different and mash them together and I realized what I was doing was a mashup. This is a John Hughes comedy with Romero zombie movies and a dollup of It Came From Outer Space and Alien. But I think it’s important that it works without knowing that.

IndieFile: We had [another Dekker film] The Monster Squad come out on DVD two years ago and now Night of the Creeps. Has it been exciting to finally have your films come to DVD?

Dekker: Oh yeah, and even more so, because of the interest, is the chance to get to see it on big screens. I’ve shown it in Toronto, in Texas, in Scotland. These movies play very, very well with a theatrical audience, so it’s always fun to get the laughs and the cheers and all that stuff.

IndieFile: Can you walk us through some of the special features on this disc?

Dekker: There are two commentaries. One is myself and producer Michael Felsher. He’s a big fan of the movie and knows it well. I admit I sometimes drive in the car and say, “Hello, welcome to the director’s commentary for Night of the Creeps.” It’s a fun commentary. Michael and I were talking a mile a minute. The other is with the cast. Then there’s a documentary that Michael Felsher produced and directed. It’s really wonderful, walking us through the making of the film, the release and its resurrection recently.

IndieFile: Was it fun to get the old cast and crew back together?

Dekker: It was great. If you have friends you haven’t seen in a long time but you were very close, it’s like no time passed at all. We just got right back into the groove. It got me excited about working together with them again in some way.

IndieFile: I wanted to ask you about the line “Thrill me,” spoken by Detective Cameron (played by Tom Atkins) repeatedly throughout the movie. In a special feature, you say that’s the first thing that came to you. Where did that come from?

Dekker: I don’t know. It just seemed that it spoke volumes about the attitude of someone. I thought it was a great way to introduce a character. In two words it just says that this guy is tired and weary and really needs a reason to get out of his char.

IndieFile: What would you tell the uninitiated watching Night of the Creeps for the first time?

Dekker: I would tell them that my staff and I and our hair and makeup and wardrobe departments went to a great deal of trouble to recreate the mid-1980s and you would never know that we just made the movie last year. I would say forgive its ’80s-ness, forgive it its analog sound effects, and just enjoy it.

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