Kelly's December Pick
The 80s was a time of music, fashion and fun when it came to horror and film in general. We saw a huge boom in horror because it had become marketable; horror went mainstream! We saw the origins and continuation of the Big 3 horror franchises - Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween and Friday the 13th. We had amazing movies from John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Clive Barker, George Romero, and David Cronenberg. It was a fantastic decade for horror. However, when I think of the 80s, I immediately turn to someone who, I think, doesn’t get talked about enough and that is Fred Dekker.
Fred Dekker is not fancy, he never went to film school. He isn’t a “household name”. He also never wanted to be a writer, and always thought he was a “writer in a directors body”. His favorite movie of all time is King Kong so we can see where his interests in low budget, fantastical horror came from! He is mostly interested in horror, fantasy, sci-fi and thankfully the 80s was a ripe, commercial time for these genres.
Dekker was the writer and director for Night of the Creeps (1986) and the director of The Monster Squad (1987). He was a co-writer on this, with Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, acted in Predator!). Fred Dekker also wrote the story for House (1985), a movie I really enjoyed as a teenager.
The Monster Squad is one of my absolute favorite movies of the 80s and one I have loved since I was a kid. I have seen it too many times to count and could recite all the lines. It is the epitome of the 80s! I love how Dekker brought the Universal Monsters to a small town so that a band of horror nerds could fight against them. I adore the “kids against evil” trope in movies. I have since wanted to create my very own horror club, and perhaps in some ways I finally have. The creature designs are fantastic and wonderfully familiar, though I wish Gill Man had a much bigger presence.
The Monster Squad didn’t do well at the box office but over the years has become a cult classic. At the time, parents were worried that it would be too scary so they didn't want to bring their kids to it. Dekker claims that it was “the wrong movie at the wrong time.” However, in 2007, he would see how his hard work paid off. Dekker got a call from an old friend who ran a horror website, and he wanted to do a screening of The Monster Squad at the Alamo Drafthouse. Dekker didn’t think anyone would come. BUT IT SOLD OUT! They ended up having to add a second screening! With the rise of home video in the late 80s and the power of word of mouth, over the years this movie produced many fans. It’s iconic, it’s quotable and it’s ever so charming. There even is a brand new documentary out called Wolfman’s Got Nards! Please see the website: I really want to see this. I watch this movie every year on my birthday as I just love it so much.
Night of the Creeps is another fun 80s horror movie that has garnered a cult following. It mixes horror with comedy, slashers and science fiction. Its cast has names paying homage to horror directors like Chris Romero and Sgt. Raimi. It also stars the formidable Tom Akins. This movie I only became familiar with in the past five years but it again shows Fred Dekker’s ability to create endearing and funny horror comedies. I would really love for him to create more movies has he has this amazing vision for endearing, relatable, fun, and interesting horror films. Dekker has since teamed up with Shane Black again for a new movie, The Predator, that I watched recently that was exactly the action movie I wanted.
So consider this my plea to Fred Dekker -- COME BACK TO HORROR.
Here is a link to a great interview with him and Mick Garris of the Post Mortem podcast: