Hide and Creep DVD Review
Written by Steve Pattee
DVD released by The Asylum
Directed by Chuck Hartsell and Chance Shirley
Written by Chance Shirley
2004, Region 1 (NTSC), 85 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on October 6th, 2009
Barry Austin as Reverend Smith
Melissa Bush as Barbara
Chris Garrison as Ted
Chris Hartsell as Chris
Chuck Hartsell as Chuck
Kyle Holman as Keith
Michael Shelton as Michael and Lee
John Walker as Agent F
At Chuck's Super Video Store, Chuck has noticed quite the run on zombie movies. And, coincidentally, later that same day, he happens to kill what appears to be a zombie.
Meanwhile, somewhere in the forest, Michael awakens high atop a tree missing three things: his clothes, his car and his woman. He has a suspicion he was abducted and, although his girlfriend is still missing, he must find his car: A sweet ’64½ Mustang.
Elsewhere, members of the "Thorsby Gun Club" run into undead problems of their own while investigating why their satellite dish went out.
And, at the local church, the reverend is not giving a sermon to the Lord's followers, but fighting for his life — and limbs.
To make matters worse, the sheriff is out of town and the deputy is nowhere to be found.
Just another day in the town of Thorsby, Alabama — “Home of the 1A State Powerlifting Champions 2001, 2002.”
Horror comedies are a tough genre to crack, because they rarely succeed. Sure, there are popular films such as Army of Darkness, but even that was simply a cult classic, not a blockbuster. It's as if studios are afraid to take a chance on horror comedies because of their historical failure at the box office.
Recent movies, however, might change that stigma. While not necessarily a full-blown comedy, Bubba Ho-tep did surprisingly well on the art-house circuit. Anchor Bay Entertainment announced it is getting into the game with its limited release of Dead and Breakfast in early 2005. And most recently, Shaun of the Dead was a huge hit overseas and made quite the mark among horror fans here in the States.
With Shaun’s recent success, it's only a matter of time before Hollywood bigwigs saturate the market with rip-offs in an effort to capitalize on the revitalized horror boom. But, will they be intelligent comedies? Will they manage to be original, even if the concept is not? And, most importantly, will they have lesbian zombies? The answers to all is “no.”
But, every Hollywood “no” becomes a resounding, booming YES in the case of indie Hide and Creep.
Let's be honest, zombies taking over is not a new idea. And neither is the comedic aspect of it. As mentioned above, it has been tried before, but with limited success. Horror fan favorite Evil Dead 2 was borderline slapstick, but, to be fair, they weren't zombies in Evil Dead. They were, as Chuck (Chuck Hartsell) tells an uneducated customer, "...Candarian demons that posses the living." Which brings me to Hide and Creep.
Sure, the concept is not original, but the writer, Chance Shirley, has crafted a laugh-out-loud script that is not only smart, but subtle. This is a movie that is even funnier the third time around — because of the jokes that were missed the first two viewings. Fans of Kevin Smith's Clerks will absolutely love this film because of Shirley's similar writing style. He has a knack for taking the everyday situation and turning it into comedic gold. A perfect example of this is when Chuck goes to the local diner for breakfast — after nonchalantly dropping a body off at the sheriff's office — and orders a Coke to go with his meal. When asked if Pepsi is okay, Chris goes into a diatribe on why Pepsi is not okay, and leaves to buy a Coke while his breakfast is being prepared.
But comparing Shirley to Smith is not fair. With Clerks, Smith took an idea that was very original at the time — a day in the life of two low-level retail employees — and it became an instant cult classic because, at one point or another, everyone has worked at least one retail job. In Shirley's case, the idea of zombies attacking has been done too many times to count, horror comedies have historically failed and not too many people have been in a situation where they have to protect themselves from the walking dead. But, even with the odds against him, he still managed to write a script with characters the audience can actually relate to. Chuck, the main character, is put into a position of fighting zombies, and he obviously doesn't want to be there. Not because the fear of death, but because he has other things to do. More important things. Like watching football. And as idiotic as that may sound, it's believable. Shirley's script is that good.
However, a great script doesn't always make a good movie if the talent is not good enough to deliver the lines. But, in Creep's case, every actor, from the lead, Chuck Hartsell, all the way down to the man returning a defective DVD to the video store because of its "black lines at the top and bottom," was well, well above the bar for the usual low-budget fodder. And as good as the acting is in Creep, there are three standouts.
The first is Kyle Holman as Keith, the man's man in charge of the Thorsby Gun Club. At first glance, you immediately have to laugh at Keith's character because, for all intents and purposes, he looks — and acts — like a knucklehead. But Holman's performance brings depth to what could be a cookie-cutter character with his ability to act like a gun-toting, kill-them-all-and-let-God-sort-them-out hillbilly one minute and loving and caring father the next. Even if the caring part is making sure his daughter knows where, exactly, she must shoot someone in order to bring them down. Permanently.
The next standout, Michael Shelton, played two roles, Michael (the naked, girlfriendless and careless tree-man and Lee, the complementary redneck sidekick to Holman's Keith. What's impressive about Shelton is not the fact that he played two roles. It is that he played them so completely different from each other. As Michael, he was clueless and annoying, spending much of the movie pining over his missing car and as Lee, while he didn't say much, he did have a way of humorously stating the obvious. Granted, he was working with a script, but his delivery was spot on.
But the biggest standout of Creep is Chuck Hartsell, as Chuck, video store owner and all-around everyman. Chuck (the character) is just a man who just wants to live his life stress free, and the zombies are definitely affecting his day-to-day activities. Hartsell, who co-directed Creep with Shirley, delivers every line flawlessly and with perfect timing. He is a natural to both the role and the camera, and the movie would not have been the same without him.
While Creep doesn't have ample gore, it does have shuffling zombies for you traditionalists out there. There are two very good bloody scenes, one in particular that made me squirm physically, but what it doesn't have in gore, it makes up for in two words:
That's right. Lesbian zombies. Girl on girl lovin'.
Granted, the lesbian zombie scene is exactly that, one scene. But it sticks out in my mind as why Hide and Creep is so good. I have always been a stickler for nude scenes in movies. I am a huge fan of nudity. The more, the better. But I demand it be done well. And this is probably one of the best nude scenes I have seen in a while — not because the women were attractive (which they were), but because the scene itself was so fitting to both the movie and the characters involved. And what made it better was none of the obvious jokes regarding lesbian zombies was told — you’ll have to provide them yourself. Fortunately, the scene was not used in the trailer because, taken out of context, it's not nearly as funny — or brilliant.
Comedy and horror are tough to mix, but Hartsell and Shirley have made quite a recipe for hilarity. They have taken a story that has the most basic of horror premises and crafted a must watch for horror fans and comedy fans alike.
Video and Audio:
Creep’s widescreen presentation is a tad soft on my big screen, but not enough to be the least bit distracting. What’s great about Creep is it was filmed entirely in 16MM, so it doesn’t have the “digital” look. Sometimes, watching a low- or no-budget movie shot on film is a blessing.
While Creep’s offered 5.1 mix doesn’t really utilize the rear speakers, the vocals are clear, the sound of ripping flesh is clean and Eric McGinty’s score sounds terrific.
2.0 stereo is also available.
First, the commentary with Shirley and Hartsell is well worth the listen. The two provide a lot of interesting tidbits, such as what the movie’s relationship is to Plan 9 From Outer Space to why one of the actors had to make a cross for the church scenes. While there are a few moments of silence towards the end, it’s easily forgivable as it is their first of hopefully many commentaries.
A short film, Birthday Call, is an absolute must watch, as it ties in nicely with Creep. It’s 2½ minutes of hilarity.
The “Behind the Scenes Featurette” should be called the “Behind the Scene Featurette” as it is only one scene. But that’s okay. It’s 9½ minutes of the rigors of filming the scene. The Scene. The Lesbian Zombie Scene. I think Crewless put this special feature on here just for me.
I was fortunate enough to review the screener for Hide and Creep way back in December of 2004 when Crewless was still shopping for a distributor. The Asylum picked up Creep for distribution, and I didn’t have to change a word in my review because I feel exactly the same then as I do now about the film — I only had to add the goodies.
Old-school zombies, new-school zombies, a laugh-out-loud script and quality acting makes this one a fixture in my player.