Welcome to another episode of I Would Have Saved/Killed. It goes like this: one of our writers will pick a character, big or small, from a movie and explain how they, for whatever reason, would have altered the fate of that character.
Don't worry, we will never spoil anything pre-jump, though obviously everything after the break is operating under the assumption you've seen the film at hand, so be warned. And a big tip of our hat to Arbogast on Film for inspiring us with his post The One You Might Have Saved.
Now, head past the jump where I'll talk about Fred Dekker's 1986 cult classic, Night of the Creeps.
Name: Detective Ray Cameron (Tom Atkins)
Cause of Death/Method of Escape: Blows himself up to wipe out the alien slugs once and for all ... in theory.
Verdict: I Would Have Saved Him
Fred Dekker's Night of the Creeps is one of those films that every horror fan loves. I'm sure there's someone out there who didn't like it, but I've yet to meet that clearly misguided person. There are lots of reasons why Dekker's film is so beloved, but the main ones always seem to come back to the hilarious dialogue and the great characters -- and no one in the film is greater or funnier than Detective Ray Cameron.
Veteran actor Tom Atkins plays the role of the tortured cop who saw his girlfriend hacked to pieces back when he was a rookie on the force. Years later, he has to team up with a young college student, Chris (Jason Lively), to thwart a bunch of alien slugs from taking over the town. Cameron and Chris have an odd couple chemistry, but it works perfectly. At the climax, the two requisition a flame thrower and other weapons and head to the sorority house where the infestation is in full swing. After uttering one of the greatest lines of dialogue in movie history, ("I've got good news and bad news, girls. The good news is your dates are here." A girl then asks what the bad news is, and Cameron deadpans "They're dead.") the cop begins slaughtering all of the infected. He eventually winds up in the cellar, where a gigantic mass of the alien slugs have gathered. After a touching -- or as touching as Cameron gets, anyway -- scene with Chris, he dumps gas all over the basement and blows himself and the alien menace up.
Clearly, if anyone deserved to live in Night of the Creeps, it's Detective Cameron. He gets all of the best lines in the film (you'll want to answer the phone with "Thrill me." every time it rings for at least a week after watching the movie) and even though he was going to kill himself earlier -- he turns on the gas and seals up his house -- I like to think that taking on this disgustingly gross alien threat would have given him a new lease on life. Who knows, he and Chris might have become good friends, particularly since Chris' best friend JC died earlier in the film anyway.
Honestly, I think the decision to kill off Detective Cameron was a mistake and probably why we've never gotten a Night of the Creeps sequel. The aliens are still alive at the end of the film, but how can you possibly continue this story without Cameron leading the fight against the invaders from beyond the stars? I've got one potential solution -- twins. Get Tom Atkins back, but this time he plays Ray Cameron's twin brother, Detective Jay Cameron. Yeah, I think that could work ...
Kidding aside, Night of the Creeps is a fantastic flick on a variety of levels, but Tom Atkins' portrayal of Ray Cameron is certainly one of the high points. His ending is fitting in a way (the act of sacrificing himself to kill the very creatures that led to the death of the woman he loved seems poetic), but that doesn't make it any less hard to swallow. This is one character who definitely deserved a "happily ever after."