By Sean Tuohy
It takes true writing ability and a twisted mind to blend together zombies, aliens, and tough noir detectives. This week’s Badass Writer of the Week, filmmaker Fred Dekker, pulls it off with the right amount of style and fanboy glee. Dekker’s stories are filled with classic adventure, monsters, and pop culture. His early films, such as “Night of the Creeps” and “Monster Squad” were forerunners to what would become “nerd culture."
As a child, Dekker made films at home. His passion for storytelling brought him to Los Angeles, where he befriended soon-to-be screenwriter Shane Black. The two struck up a friendship on a shared love monsters, tough guys, and films.
Dekker’s first produced movie was the horror classic “House.” Using the funds from that film, Dekker went on to write and direct his own film, “Night of the Creeps.”
A true gem for any movie buff, “Night of the Creeps” seeps with nerd culture. When an alien toxin infects a college it is up to a timid freshmen and a tough-as-nails detective to save the day. Over the top but fresh, “Night of the Creeps” is a horror film that screams for the cult following it now enjoys.
Soon after, Dekker teamed up with Shane Black to create “The Monster Squad,” a love letter to Universal’s monster films. When Wolfman, Frankenstein's monster, and other things that go bump in the night team up to control the world a group of kids come together to fight them. Where “The Goonies” featured innocent kids on an adventure, “The Monster Squad” had tough kids toting shotguns and spouting awesome one-liners. Dark and funny, with touch of humanity, “The Monster Squad” was golden.
Dekker’s films flopped during their original releases, not because of the quality but because they had no real niche to fill. They seemed too kiddy for adults and too adult for kids. They were stuck in a weird silver screen limbo. It wasn’t until nerd culture came into vogue that people noticed these films for what they were: a movie fan’s love letter to his youth. Dekker never set out to make a David Lean film. He set out to make his own film with a strong personal voice.
Even “Robocop 3,” which is part of a giant franchise, still featured Dekker’s distinctive voice. Every time a movie buff sits down and watches a Dekker film there is connection, a moment when you say, “This was made for me.”
And it kind of was because of the badassery of writer and filmmaker Fred Dekker.