by Alejandra Gonzalez
1986 saw the release of two of my all time favorites: Pretty in Pink and Fred Dekker’s Night of The Creeps. In the realm of our video store, Pretty In Pink would surely be sitting proudly on the main display, shiny and bright next to other movies with beautiful, smiling people on their covers. It would be several aisles before we’d come across Night of The Creeps in the dregs of Horror, surrounded by terrifying covers that will scar any wandering child for life. The thing is, despite the obvious differences in their presentation, the films tell stories that are strikingly similar. Unlikely as they may be on the surface, when the two come together they are a match made in movie heaven.
The place to look for the most obvious similarities, though, lies in the supporting characters and central climax of both films. While I am familiar with archetypes that were enforced in so many movies of the ‘80s, the eerie similarities between the bad guys and the sidekicks in Night of the Creeps and Pretty In Pink is undeniable. Pretty in Pink’s Steff does everything he can to enforce his superiority (especially financially) over those around him—including and especially to Blaine, his supposed best friend. He shows off his money because he knows it is the only thing he has to offer. (The part is played almost effortlessly by James Spader, which makes me worry about him.) He does whatever it takes to keep Andie and Blaine apart because he was not able to impress Andie himself when she denied his advances. Brad assumes a similar role in Night of the Creeps — a preppy jerk who tries too hard to assert his dominance, flaunting his social status and money in order to convince others that he is what guys like him would deem an Alpha male. It’s no coincidence that both guys are used as a vehicle by which our female protagonists can exercise their autonomy when they reject each one respectively.
So, there you have it — 1986’s most perfect Friday night double feature. Both are telling similar stories about the horrors of young love, rejection, and growing up—albeit through very different means. Though our beloved hypothetical video store probably went out of business sometime in the early 2000s, I maintain the importance and joy of finding unlikely movie matches on opposite sides of the genre spectrum. After all, what you find may thrill you.