The Creeps DVD Review
Written by Ilan Sheady
DVD released by 88 Films
Directed by Charles Band
Written by Benjamin Carr
1997, Region 2, 80 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 27th January 2014
Rhonda Griffin as Anna Quarrels
Justin Lauer as David Raleigh
Bill Moynihan as Winston Berber
Kristin Norton as Miss Christina
Phil Fondacaro as Dracula
Jon Simanton as Wolfman
God bless the nineties. Any films made in the eighties have inexplicably gained a free pass into cult status while seventies movies are almost widely considered an art form. But the nineties is overlooked, ignored or cast aside by people who selectively forget that it gave us great titles like Candyman, Scream, Braindead and Army of Darkness. This is mainly because the nineties is the decade where you have to form an opinion on what you like in SPITE of what others feel. Not everybody may agree to your reasons for liking Species, Jason Goes to Hell, The Relic, Freddy's Dead or Hellraiser 3. And let's be fair, it's not like they made the fence easy to land on, you either liked Leprachaun in Da Hood or despised it. If you were open minded then the decade was a goldmine for memorable titles that mean more to you than any amount of star ratings can justify.
There is a good chance though, that The Creeps is not one of those titles.
The strict world of rare book keeping is in danger of being brought to its knees when Mary Shelley's original hand written draft of Frankenstein is stolen. But this is no ordinary book thief, as villainous mastermind Doctor Berber (Bill Moynihan) has created a machine that can 'transform mythic, cultural and literary archetypes into living entities'. The archetypes of choice being Dracula, The Mummy, Wolfman and Frankenstein's Monster.
Hiring a video store clerk (Justin Lauer) to help locate the thief, beautiful librarian Anna Quarrels (Rhonda Griffin - Hideous) unwittingly becomes the reasonably suitable sacrifice to bring about the end of days.
When the process is interrupted, the icons of horror manifest, but substantially shorter than planned. Now Count Dracula (Phil Fondacaro - Ghoulies 2, Land of the Dead) must lead his comrades in finding the intended sacrifice to restore themselves to their full horrifying height.
Where on Earth do I start with this film? Produced by Full Moon Entertainment (Puppet Master, Pit and the Pendulum, Demonic Toys) and directed by B-movie legend Charles Band (Head of the Family, Gingerdead Man, Evil Bong), The Creeps is one of a growing list of hundreds of titles that the two contributed to the horror genre and the 13th addition to 88 Films' The Grindhouse Collection. The Creeps is a silly comedy and a very tacky entry in the list of dwarfsploitation movies. The motives for bringing to life four of literatures darkest figures is unjustifiable but the science behind it is even more implausible. Needing to steal the first written edition of a book, press a few buttons on a machine and then sacrifice a nude virgin between the age of 20 and 35 to conjure up fictitious entities is a stretch for anybody's imagination, but having the much loved monsters appearing from their chambers only three feet tall is beyond ridiculous.
The acting is like something straight out of a softcore porn movie but without the payoff, though astonishingly there is a scene where the head librarian (Kristin Norton) masturbates using an original copy of Jane Eyre. Even Fondacaro, a cult icon in his own right, is painful to watch as he emotionlessly (and often motionlessly) spouts Transylvanian cliché after cliché with his cape and blood red contact lenses.
By the time the film comes to its conclusion it's so technically confusing and anti-climactic that you aren't sure if you just watched a kids movie with boobs or an adult movie for idiots. I feel embarrassed to say it, but I found myself waiting for the promise of a naked Rhonda Griffin to be fulfilled hoping THAT was going to be my reward for watching until the end. Instead the best you can expect is an extremely unique conversation with whoever you shared the burden of watching it with. You will spend a good hour dissecting the phenomenal loopholes and asking such redundant questions like 'wouldn't the machine have manifested Frankenstein the scientist rather than the monster?' 'Why do they have to be the original books? can you write your own book and use it in the machine?' If they put a copy of King Kong in there would the ape be reduced to the size of a normal gorilla or would it ALSO be 3ft tall?
Regardless of the minefield of faults, in the right hands The Creeps can be an entertaining film. It certainly isn't the Monster Squad meets Time Bandits you may have envisioned, but the special effects required some effort to produce and corners were definitely not cut.
No matter how you look at it, The Creeps is a bad movie but I doubt it was trying to do anything other than show something that hadn't seen before. If so, Full Moon definitely succeeded as there's some images that will haunt you for the rest of your life (primarily involving Kristin Norton). If your 'college humour' is intact and you have no moral issues with laughing at short people in costumes then this is right up your street. It's more likely you'll be laughing at the film and the idea that it can even exist in the 21st century, but that's the beauty of Full Moon Entertainment. It filled the nineties with some of the most unique B-Movie titles imaginable and while you may not like all of them it certainly makes looking through them an eye-opening experience.
Video and Audio:
Get out that old TV your parents used to have in the kitchen because we are going back to 4:3 (1.33 : 1). The quality is a lot better than I remember VHS films in the nineties looked so it's at least a good quality transfer. This means you can watch all the cringey cgi elements in near perfect quality.
The audio is in Dolby 2.0 but the originally recorded audio is a little frustrating. The actors' voices are sometimes too quiet while the synthesised score dominates the scenes. However this can be expected from such a title.
This is where 88 Films' DVD really shines. Knowing full well that this title will be picked up for its nostalgic, low-budget appeal there is around 2 hours of extras to explore:
Bonus film The Best of Sex and Violence is a 76-minute collection of grindhouse, horror, sex and blacksploitation trailers hosted by the golden age horror icon John Carradine (House of Dracula, The Invisible Man’s Revenge). An extremely generous addition as this could have easily made a much sought after independent title, despite its poor quality.
A Full Moon Entertainment Trailer park showing some classic examples of Full Moon’s incredible titles like Pit and the Pendulum, Puppet Master, Dollman, Castle Freak and Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity.
A 23-minute Video Zone featurette that includes a making of, interviews and behind the scenes footage followed by more trailers from Full Moon’s arsenal.
And of course there’s the original trailer to The Creeps so you can see exactly how it was marketed.
A video shop customer asks if there's a copy of Head of the Family and Hideous. Both titles are from Full Moon Entertainment and the latter ALSO stars Rhonda Griffin and is the 14th film in The Grindhouse Collection. It's also a much more rewarding film. I was working in a video shop around the time The Creeps was released and don't recall anyone ever asking for those titles. I obviously had a much more close-minded clientele.