Sunday, November 8, 2009

THE CREEPING TERROR: Attack of the giant carpet remnant.

By Steve Stones

Someone once said that The Creeping Terror makes Plan 9 From Outer Space look like Citizen Kane. I’m not sure if I necessarily agree with that statement, but any self-respecting film critic will tell you that The Creeping Terror ranks in their list of top five worst films of all time. The Golden Turkey Awards, a book written by Harry and Michael Medved in 1980, has helped to catapult The Creeping Terror into cult status over the last thirty years or so.

Martin Gordon and his new bride Brett are returning home to Angel County, California after a two-week long honeymoon. Gordon’s uncle is the county sheriff, and Martin serves as his senior deputy. The sheriff receives a call to investigate the crash of a space rocket. Martin and Brett join him in the investigation. The group arrives at the crash site to see a space rocket covered with trees and undergrowth, as if the rocket has been there for a long time. They also find the hat of Ben’s junior deputy Jeff lying outside of the rocket. Jeff was killed while entering the rocket. The sheriff crawls under the rocket to investigate and is attacked and killed by an unseen creature inside who growls like a lion.

What follows for the rest of the film is a series of attacks by a monster that looks like a giant piece of carpet remnant with vacuum pipes sticking out of its head. The monster attacks a group of picnickers, a youth dance hall, a grandfather fishing with his grandson in a stream, a couple making out under a tree, and a mother hanging her laundry on a clothesline. Each victim stares longingly at the creature without any attempt to run or quickly get away from it. Some of the victims even shove themselves into the opening of the creature, which is presumably the mouth.

One scene in the dance hall shows a pair of sexy legs wearing nylons and high heels sticking out of the opening of the monster as if she shoved herself into the creature after it entered the dance hall. A girl making out with her boyfriend in a bikini under a tree willingly shoves herself into the creature as it hovers above her without allowing the creature to incapacitate her before it tries to eat her.

What really makes the film drag is the voice over narration throughout the entire film. The narrator sounds like many of the boring, monotone narrators of the sex education scare films we were forced to watch in junior high school to scare us into never having pre-marital or unprotected sex. Apparently the folks who worked on this film somehow lost the soundtrack to it, so many of the sequences of dialogue between actors is missing. This is why the boring narration was added later. Some scenes show actors together not talking, yet we hear a dubbed in sound of their voices to indicate that they are supposed to be talking to each other. Very strange indeed.

Every time I view this film, I can’t help but ask myself a number of questions concerning the lack of logic in the film. For example, in the dance hall scene, the viewer is treated to sequences of dancers on the dance floor shaking their booty, then continuous close up shots of the monster’s head outside the dance hall near some trees. Suddenly, by some strange force of magic, the monster appears in the dance hall, and the dancers start to panic. One girl shouts, “My God, what is it?” How the giant monster even got through the doors of the dance hall is anyone’s guess? He could barely fit in the space rocket, let along squeeze through the doors of a dance hall gymnasium. This adds to the unintentional humor of the film.

An opening sequence in the film shows a grainy stock footage shot of the launching of a space rocket played in reverse to indicate to the viewer that the shot is supposed to be the rocket crashing. This is another unintentionally funny sequence in the film.

The most ridiculous and funny sequence is near the end. A group of military soldiers slowly walk up to the creature and pretends to be firing their rifles into it. They pretend to jerk backward with the recoil of their guns, but it looks fake and unconvincing. Some of the guns even look like wood cut outs.

Not only has the Medved brothers’ book The Golden Turkey Awards helped to stir up interest in The Creeping Terror in recent years, but the book also nominated The Creeping Terror for the category of The Most Ridiculous Monster in Screen History. Unfortunately, the Ro-Man monster
in Robot Monster won that category, but if my vote ever counted, I would place it for the monster in The Creeping Terror or the giant sheep monster in God Monster of Indian Flats. However, that does not mean that I’m not a fan of The Creeping Terror.

Like fine wine, The Creeping Terror gets better with age and multiple viewings. It’s not a film that would ever make it into anyone’s list of “must-see” or best film categories. If you’re a fan of bad and obscure films, then you must seek out The Creeping Terror. Watch it on a double bill with Plan 9 From Outer Space or The Beast of Yucca Flats and you won’t be disappointed, I promise.

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