One of my all time favorite filmmakers is a man named Fred Dekker. He has only directed three movies, the last of which was made in 1993. Of his these films, only two are any good (and they are very, VERY good), while one is an absolute failure, albeit a noble one. Since then, Dekker has found himself in what is known as “Director Jail.” He’s had a few small writing credits here and there, but I want to see him return to making features. For a career so promising to remain dormant for over two decades while Len Wiseman and Brett Ratner regularly pump out shiny garbage imparts a sadness on my soul. Let’s take a look back at Mr. Dekker’s filmography.
Night of the Creeps (1986)
A couple of nerdy wannabe frat boys are trying to find their place amongst the social hierarchy of college when an alien sickness takes hold of their town. The infection is in the form of a slug-like parasite which, after crawling down a victim’s throat, turns them into a mindless zombie. Despite being a box office failure, Night of the Creeps has since gained a huge cult following. Its fans champion the practical effects, dark sense of humor, and the colorful marriage of the multiple subgenres (alien invasion, zombie attack, infection, body horror). The film itself is meant to be an homage to earlier creature features, but has also become an influence in its own right (James Gunn’s Slither chief amongst its disciples). Also, check out this list of character names:
-James Carpenter Hooper
The Monster Squad (1987)
Even as a kid, I was never a big fan of The Goonies (and if you were, I highly recommend not revisiting it – it doesn’t really hold up), so my go to sci-fi adventure was The Monster Squad. Much like Night of the Creeps, The Monster Squad was not a huge success, but has also gained a cult following, often screening as part of a double feature with Creeps (I’ve done this lineup on the big screen twice, and highly recommend you do so if you get the chance). The titular squad is a group of adolescents who are obsessed with occult lore, most specifically that of monsters. The precocious youngsters soon discover that not only are their favorite movie creatures real, but that Dracula is corralling them to take over the world. Since lame-o grown ups don’t believe in this sort of thing, it’s up to our little heroes to save the world. Oh, and it’s written by Shane Black. Ya know, my hero.
Robocop 3 (1993)
This is the bad one. The noble failure. For those who have blocked this chunk of the Robocop franchise from their minds, this is the one where Robocop flies and Nancy Allen dies. Even though Robocop 2 is a messy follow up to an outright masterpiece, it looks like The Godfather next to Robocop 3. By the time this film was being made, the character of Robocop had become such a pop culture icon that the natural progression (at least by 1993 standards) was to move the franchise appeal toward children. The Monster Squad showcased Dekker’s ability to produce child-friendly fare with a harder edge, so it’s easy to see why he was chosen to direct. Sadly, it did not work, but it wasn’t for lack of effort. Threequels are tough to begin with, and with the studio mandated tonal shift and the departure of the actor who had become synonymous with the hero himself, the film was both a critical and commercial bomb, and Dekker has been MIA as a director ever since.
So where would Dekker fit in to the current film landscape? Well, if the world of Star Wars is branching out into smaller “expanded universe” stories, Dekker could easily bring his style to a lower budget one-off. Another fantastic outlet would be with Marvel Knights, the sub-studio which released Punisher: War Zone. Why not give Dekker a few smaller Marvel characters to play with? As it currently stands, the only project to which Dekker is attached is an ill-advised Predator reboot, and he’s only working as a writer (alongside Shane Black, so I’m not ready to dismiss it just yet). He also made mention that he was working on a post-apocalyptic thriller, but that was in 2005, sooo…
Come back, Fred! Two out of three ain’t bad!