Thursday, June 16, 2016

Creeporia – review

Director: John Semper

Release date: 2014

Contains spoilers

I came across Creeporia on Amazon Prime (UK) and from what I can gather there was a web serial that became a film. Actually IMDb lists two films and suggests one is one and a half hours and the other just shy of two hours. What we get in the cut I watched is a three and a half hour edit – so this ties both films into one cut, I assume. This is also a massive problem, as I will explain later.

The film is based on the character Creeporia (played by both Camille Kitt and Kennerly Kitt, identical twins who also perform as the Harp Twins). There are moments where we get two “incarnations” of Creeporia on screen at once and this is obviously aided by having two actresses play the role.

animated opening
The film begins with an animated backstory about a Lovecraftian horror preying on the Native Americans in a specific location. Those killed by him become demonspawn. The place eventually becomes Indiana and, in 1970, an entrepreneur named Mason Q. Arkham (Tristan Ross, My Bloody Wedding) decides that he will build a waxwork of horror characters and sell ribs with a secret sauce. I was impressed with the animated backstory as I watched, thinking that the animation was more professional than I had expected.

animated vampire
Indeed animation becomes the order of the day through the film. There is a long computer animated sequence next of a man going into the “asylum house” and being followed by classic monsters as he searches for the Necronomicon. He is then chased down by Creeporia, in an amorous fashion. This segues into the animated credits but at this point I was already concerned that the sequences were proving too long. Later animated sequences are used for Creeporia’s backstory and Scooby-Doo style chases through the waxworks.

Mother Teresa, monster killer
Cutting to the modern day and a couple of movie workers are on a lot trying to find props for a film. The props are horror props despite the film being a biopic of Mother Teresa (Maura Murphy, the Middleman - though not the vampire episode). It turns out the biopic and a serial killer remake of Citizen Kane are being made by Rhob Zhombie and we get moments from the latter and a trailer for the first where Mother Teresa transforms at night from an elderly (Caucasian) nun to a young woman who rips of the habit and slays monsters in lingerie. The reason for concentrating on this – as well as the fact that she stakes a manbat – is this sums up my general thoughts around the film. There are definite inventive madcap moments but they are too often and too long and we will talk later about pacing.

Creeporia and a crap bat
So the prop guys find a coffin that’s a-popping, as it were, due to someone sneezing inside. It turns out it is Creeporia who, some forty years before, got trapped in the prop on the set of a Roger Corman movie. The guys scream and she transforms into an insect like creature and, apparently, every time she hears a scream of genuine terror she transforms into a random creature for two minutes. Now free from the coffin she is ready to pursue her destiny and we get to hear her backstory.

as a vampire
Creeporia was an actress 300 years ago, but after she embarrasses a magician on stage he curses her to live in undeath for ever. There are two ways to break the curse, to persuade a man to love and marry her or to regain her fame as an actress. As sunlight has an unfortunate effect she has tried for the latter and has been part of the film industry since its inception. She describes herself as kind of like a vampire or a ghoul but she doesn’t drink blood or eat flesh (the idea makes her nauseus) and the sunlight impact is not a standard vampire one. We do see her as a fanged vampire (animated and in person) as she plays one in films sometimes.

Creeporia with Count Blablabla
However, her career has taken a forty year nose dive and her (dead) agent (Randy Cox) gets her a job at the waxworks in Indiana and she starts to drive there until her car sprouts batwings and she flies. She discovers that most of the waxwork figures have been replaced with the real monsters – many of whom she knew – and who are now yesterday’s news. For our vampire connection we get Count Blablabla (Michael Davis). We also later get Creeporia entering into one of her old movies and a brief meeting with Nosferatu (Phil Yeary). Creeporia and the monsters must try to rescue the waxwork, which is now run by Arkham’s son Gregg (Josh Baker) as the bank are looking to foreclose and also prevent the return of an eldritch horror that would destroy the world.

So far so good but the film is excruciating in getting to where it is going. There is no definitive cut point between the two movies that have been stitched together and I suspect the first probably doesn’t have a satisfying structure. The entire thing does overstay its welcome, a lot, and some parts are really badly paced – such as the silent movie, which is absolutely silent and is thus insufferably long to watch despite some good moments of comedy within it. The shame of this is that there are loads of good ideas, too many to be honest, and also the fact that this does come across as carrying a love of the horror genre.

Wolfgang with Creeporia
Played for laughs, the fact that the monsters are replaced by much younger performers for song and dance routines coupled with the low budget feel, especially as it flips into animation for scenes I suspect they couldn’t physically do, actually work in the film's favour. The twins are entirely personable as Creeporia and the werewolf Wolfgang (voiced by Douglas Dunning) was nicely done as a character. It was just the poor pacing and the length that did for the film and kicks the score right down to 4 out of 10, which still is respectable as a budget film but could have been higher if they cut the entire thing down by two hours.

The imdb page is here.


Unknown said...

I appear as one of the men in a lab coat in the silent movie sequence, the one with the crazy wig. As I understand the film was intended as a feature then went on to become a web series. I also appear as one of the crowd in the dinner theater sequence near the beginning of the film as well as a green faced demon. Something I learned on set was that the ten thousand dollar budget soon escalated to around thirty thousand. John Sempler was a pleasure to work with as were the entire ccast and crew.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Ryan.

Thanks for the info. As I say, they did well with a budget but cut as a feature (as it appears on Amazon) the pacing is right off. I can see it working better cut into segments.