Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Creeps – review

dvdDirector: Charles band

Release date: 1997

Contains spoilers

Charles Band, and his Full Moon Pictures, have appeared on the blog many times over and the films range from the sublime to the ridiculous. The company have released some truly classic movies – despite low budgets – and yet have managed to balance that with some real stinkers.

The Creeps tries to straddle the two extremes and, as a result, does tend to fall into mediocrity. A horror comedy it is too limited to truly work and yet it has its moments.

filling in formsThe film begins in a library and a man – using the assumed name of Jameson, though actually called Winston Berber (Bill Moynihan, who was also in Jugular Wine: A Vampire Odyssey) – is going through the rigmarole of getting access to a rare book; actually the original manuscript of Frankenstein. Having performed the required checks he is taken to the book by librarian Anna Quarrels (Rhonda Griffin).

He has to wear gloves and a mask and is left with the book. We see him replace the manuscript with a fake. Back at her desk we discover that Quarrels is a new member of staff and she is admonished by older librarian Miss Christina (Kristin Norton) for allowing the man near the book – they never allow access. He returns the book in its tin box and Christina tells Quarrels that the fact that he moved the book around like that is the only excuse they need to ban him from further books. She asks Quarrels out on a date, but the younger woman turns her down.

Rhonda Griffin as Anna QuarrelsWhen Quarrels returns the book she sneaks a look and discovers that the original has been stolen. She can’t report it so gets a private eye, David Raleigh (Justin Lauer), on the job – he is just starting out as a PI and works out of the video store he manages. At first things go well, and he discovers Berber’s identity but then he fails to track him. Meanwhile Berber has Frankenstein, a book with the wolfman in it, a book with the mummy in it and he now wants the original manuscript of Dracula. It happens to be at the same library but when he realises that Quarrels knows he took Frankenstein (and is getting Raliegh to come to the library) he tasers her, grabs both the book and her, and legs it.

the standard mad scientist!The reason he wants the books is because he has built an archetype generator. Pop a book in (for some reason the original manuscript), perform a sacrifice of an under 35, naked, female virgin and you’ll bring the archetype to life. He seeks to create the four evil monsters so that he can rule the world. Raleigh, however, arrives and rescues Quarrels and they grab the books and scarper. Without the sacrifice things go wrong. He creates Dracula (Phil Fondacaro, who we have seen in Kiss of the Vampire, Decadent Evil and Bordello of Blood), the Mummy (Joe Smith), Wolfman (Jon Simanton) and Frankenstein’s Monster (Thomas Wellington) but they are somewhat… short.

Miss Christina and a diminutive wolfmanFrom here on in they are after Quarrels, so that the sacrifice can be completed to bring them back to size. It has to be Quarrels, due to the formula created by Berber – in fact they do a trial sacrifice with Miss Christina but it has no effect (bar turning her into a valkyrie). Like the main monsters the film is short and we had so much time building to the actual monster creation that the film doesn’t have much time to do anything else.

Phil Fondacaro as draculaNow, I said that this – in some respects – does work as a film and the reason is twofold. Firstly the guys playing the monsters play them absolutely straight. It is left to the others to inject the comedy into this. This is even evident in the makeup effects, the Frankenstein’s Monster makeup being marvellous. The rest of the film might be silly and illogical by turns, but they are great. The second reason is, more specifically, down to Phil Fondacaro’s performance. Not only does he play Dracula straight but he is absolutely wonderful in the role, better in fact than some who have played Dracula in more mainstream movies.

Frankenstein's Monster and the MummySome of the angles used in film seem odd until you realise that the film was originally shot in 3D. Whilst, like some of the poorer Full Moon pictures, this had limited locations they were used rather well. Actually the fact that it is actually filmed, rather than videoed is telling and lends something to the experience. However it is also short, overly simplistic and just too silly in plot to be great. The comedy only barely works.

All in all this falls into mediocrity, as I mentioned at the head of the review, and gets 4 out of 10 but a definite thumbs up for Phil Fondacaro. The imdb page is here.


Jenn said...

I always remember liking this one a lot and I think it mostly due to Full Moon fave Phil Fondacaro, a true and serious talent in a host of B-movies. The premise is also praiseworthy, although a majority misses the mar, but it has been years since I've seen it. Good times, if I remember, but better times from other Full Moon endeavors.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

I think a fair comment Jenn... Phil F does make this film and generally Full Moon veer between brilliant or rubbish... this never caught up with the better ones but certainly wasn't the pits.

Thanks for the comment