Miami Herald, The (FL) - May 28, 1985

Author: BILL COSFORD Herald Movie Critic

Creature is a clone of Alien (1979), even down to the advertising art work, which shows the creature bearing a marked resemblance to the alien -- something of a cross between an alligator and an anteater with an overdose of implacable evil thrown in. This makes Creature something of a genre straggler, the market for horror -in-space having peaked a couple years ago, and the film would be unremarkable except for the presence among the cast of Klaus Kinski, who is undeniably the weirdest star in contemporary motion pictures.

Kinski could probably name his project, but with very few exceptions -- Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo the most recent and notable -- he seems to prefer potboilers; as he said several years ago, "I like bad cinema."

Creature is indeed pretty bad, though it does have some competent effects work, including one of the better exploding- head sequences since Brian De Palma perfected the art in The Fury.

As it happens, however, Kinski's screen time is not large. He plays the lone survivor of a German deep-space research mission menaced by the creature, and as is so often the case in his "special-guest" appearances, his character acts according to motives that are at best obscure. His first move upon making contact with a rival American research team is the attempted rape of their security chief, a towering dominatrix named Bryce. Only after she whaps him around her neon-and-chrome boudoir does Klaus settle down and warn the rest of the folks what they're up against: a 200,000-year-old carnivore that controls its victims by putting little brain-eating crabs on their heads and letting them burrow for the cerebrum.

The only time Creature is at all fun is when the Kinski character reverts to form, lunging at Bryce while they're on patrol, cackling happily when she cuffs him across his life- support system. It's a shame when the braineater finally gets to him, and his head swells up.

By that time the movie is irredeemably formulaic, departing
from the plot of the far superior Alien only in minor detail. As usual, Kinski is ill-used by his pot-boiling bosses, who always miss the point: He makes a far better villain than the most fearsome of anteaters; he's even implacable.

Creature (R) **


Stan Ivar, Wendy Schaal, Marie Laupin, Lyman Ward, Robert Jaffe, Annette McCarthy, Diane Salinger, Klaus Kinski.


Director: William Malone. Producers: William Dunn, William Malone. Screenwriters: William Malone, Alan Reed. Cinematographer: Harry Mathias. Music: Thomas Chase, Steve Rucker.

A CFR Corporation release. Running time: 92 minutes. Vulgar language, nudity, sexual situations, violence and gore.

Herald movie critics rate movies from zero to four stars.

**** Excellent *** 1/2 Very Good

*** Good ** 1/2 Worth Seeing ** Fair

* Poor Zero: Worthless



Miami Herald, The (FL) - August 2, 1985

Author: BILL COSFORD Herald Movie Critic

Fright Night is not what you think. It is not just another wheeze from the slasher cartel, nor does it star Linda Blair. It's not Citizen Kane, either, but what the heck: This is summer.

Fright Night is about the vampire who moves in next door, and according to director Tom Holland, it's an attempt to "update" the whole idea of Dracula. But what it does best is quite the opposite: Fright Night resurrects the blissful naivete and dizzy plot implausibilities of the great wave of horror films of the 1950s and '60s, the Bronze Age of cinema.

It's daffy and sweet and sometimes unintentionally funny. It's even scary in its closing moments, when the genre- sanctified confrontation -- a boy with a wooden stake against the suave undead -- is re-enacted wholly without irony, as if Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Hammer Films, not to mention Bela Lugosi and Abbott and Costello, had never drawn blood.

Holland is a screenwriter (Class of 1984, Psycho II, Cloak and Dagger) making his directing debut, and his idea of something new is to have teen-agers discover odd doings next door, and turn to a washed-up horror -film star (played by Roddy McDowall with epochal fidgetiness) for help. The teens are
sexually repressed, but this is not really new; the vampire legends ooze Freud.

Holland was smart enough to keep the good old stuff in, too, from shape shifting to tricks of the undead trade (a vampire may not enter your house to bite you unless he has been invited in by the "rightful owner"). The cast plays them out with all the corn and plot holes (where is everyone else in the neighborhood, much less the cops, when the screams start in the old manse?) of the vintage Dracula spin-offs.

What's fun about Fright Night is that comforting sense of deja vu, by which one feels oneself stepping back, back, back in time, to an era when horror films were unabashedly dumb.

Fright Night is as silly as a film about hungry ghouls can be, and with the exception of an eccentric-teen turn by Stephen Geoffreys, a spiky-haired supporting player who looks as if he just wandered in from The Breakfast Club, there isn't really a "modern" moment in it. The movie is bloody and gruesome and quite harmless, just the way they made them "in the good old days."

Fright Night (R) ** 1/2

CAST: Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale, Amada Bearse, Roddy McDowall, Stephen Geoffreys, Jonathan Stark.

CREDITS: Director: Tom Holland. Producer: Herb Jaffe. Screenwriter: Tom Holland. Cinematographer: Jan Kiesser. Music: Brad Fiedel. A Columbia Pictures release.

Running time: 104 minutes. Vulgar language, nudity, sexual situations, violence and gore.

Herald movie reviewers rate movies from zero to four stars.

**** Excellent; *** 1/2 Very Good

*** Good; ** 1/2 Worth Seeing; ** Fair

* Poor; 0 Worthless



Miami Herald, The (FL) - November 5, 1985

Author: BILL COSFORD Herald Movie Critic

From Night of the Living Dead through Dawn of the Dead and now, to the concluding eruption of George Romero's gore trilogy, Day of the Dead, Romero has kept audiences off-balance. His zombie jamborees are so gruesome, and Romero keeps up on the latest in splatter-effects techniques so devotedly, that one is tempted to dismiss them as the very worst of a bad lot. After all, dismemberment is a limited form, and explicit gore hard to redeem.

But one may not dismiss Romero or his trilogy, because there has always been a filmmaking intelligence behind the work. This is as true of Day of the Dead as it was of Night and Dawn. And though Romero seems unlikely ever to reach the black-comic heights of Dawn, in which waves of zombies descended on a suburban shopping mall in answer to some sort of deep-seated genetic call, Day of the Dead has its moments of narrative depth.

By Day, the zombies who were first seen in scattered packs in the Pennsylvania countryside in Night have all but taken over the world. The principal survivors are holed up somewhere in southern Florida, where a detachment of troops uneasily coexists with a small group of scientists working on a living- dead cure. As usual, Romero has a metaphor handy: One of the scientists, whom the soldiers refer to with murderous disdain as "Dr. Frankenstein," has been vivisecting some of the zombies and attempting to train others as ghastly pets.

It's not subtle, this business, but compared to the desultory attempts at subtexts found in most contemporary horror films, it amounts to High Theme. It also provides comic relief -- what else to do but laugh when Frankenstein's great achievement turns out to be feeding his zombie without losing any fingers? -- as well as establishing the films' first sympathetic walking dead, a spaniel-eyed giant played marvelously by Howard Sherman.

As is traditional, such fooling where man is not meant to fool must bring judgment down on Frankenstein as well as on the loutish soldiers who threaten his work. Eventually, since this is Romero and these are his Dead, Day becomes a bloodbath of epic proportions. Tom Savini, a special makeup-effects craftsman, manages to move the state of the art another revolting step "forward," and Day of the Dead offers what are easily the screen's most graphic decapitations and disembowelings. Those with the stomach for it will find in this film revelations concerning special effects: They are astonishing.

But strong stomachs are called for. Romero does not cut away. He is not shy, and though Day of the Dead is the best performed and best written of the three films, and is clearly the work of a serious filmmaker, it is not for the unwary. Romero makes you pay for that theme. He must be approached by novices in the way that timid eaters approach a Japanese restaurant -- very, very carefully.

Day of the Dead (U) ** 1/2

CAST: Lori Cardille, Joseph Pilato, Richard Liberty, Terry Alexander, Howard Sherman, G. Howard Klar.

CREDITS: Director: George Romero. Producer: Richard P. Rubinstein. Screenwriter: George Romero. Cinematographer: Michael Gornick. Music: John Harrison.

A United Film Distribution release. Running time: 102 minutes. Vulgar language, much violence and gore.

**** Excellent *** 1/2 Very Good

*** Good ** 1/2 Worth Seeing ** Fair

* Poor Zero: Worthless