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30 for 31: “NIGHT OF THE CREEPS”

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The Season of the Witch is upon us, ye ole FANGORIA Readers! And to many, Halloween means candy, costumes and creepshows of all sorts. But to the staff at FANGORIA, Halloween can mean something more entirely. Therefore, we present 30 FOR 31, in which FANGORIA recounts the cinema that most strongly represents what Halloween means to us.

To this writer, there are few films that represent the attitude of Halloween better than Fred Dekker’s NIGHT OF THE CREEPS. Being fun, creepy and conscious of its own nature, NIGHT OF THE CREEPS is just as diverse in its horror as it is with its tone. Yet in that diversity is an endearing sense of festivity as well as surprising emotional weight, all of which feels completely relative to what makes Halloween resonate so deeply with this writer.

As a horror film, NIGHT OF THE CREEPS is absolutely superb, injecting elements of alien invasion, slasher and zombie films with a healthy dose of humor. But one reason why that ties so inherently to Halloween is that the humor comes from the characters rather than the situation, which still remains horrific. In a way, that’s exactly what Halloween is for many: a playful and fun opportunity within the backdrop of something much darker. And NIGHT OF THE CREEPS not has that essence, but it also shows how compatible and effective it can be in any brand of horror.

NIGHT OF THE CREEPS also encapsulates emotions often spurred by Halloween; after all, what other time can we escape the reality among us and play with our own identity? Growing up, Halloween was a time where you could be yourself without truly being “yourself,” which helped people and communities bond. You can see that dynamic, and the struggles to maintain it, in J.C. and Chris’s friendship within the film, which itself comes to a bittersweet end.

Beyond the deeper emotions of the film, NIGHT OF THE CREEPS is a near-perfect Halloween movie because of how well it can jumpstart the season. The attitude of the film is as infectious as it is mischievous, and the arrival of this consumptive horror in a small town is evocative of Halloween as well. Besides, what self-respecting horror fan doesn’t get a bit of seasonal nostalgia when seeing the great Tom Atkins face off against the undead?

Funny, scary and the right amount of juvenile, NIGHT OF THE CREEPS will always find it’s way on my calendar when Halloween draws near. Between the tone and content, it’s a film that draws out the same festive emotions as I felt on Halloween years and years prior. So if you think you can find a horror film that covers as much ground in the genre while remaining fun and personable, go ahead. Thrill me.

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About the author
Ken W. Hanley

Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel “THE I IN EVIL”, and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.

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