In the back country of Louisiana, a group of friends unearth a terrible secret that unleashes a monster from the depths of the swamp.
When a movie starts out with an attractive woman disrobing by a body of water & then diving in sans clothing, only to be attacked by an Alligator & have her legs chewed off this can mean one of two things. One is that since the woman is completely nude & the camera has no problem focusing on her naughty bits both in & out of the water, you might be watching a movie in which nothing is going to be held back. A movie that is going to deliver all the goods in whatever genre this movie happens to be in (Let’s face it though, I’m talking mainly about horror movies in general here). This is a good thing. I mean even if the movie is terrible, it probably isn’t gonna be a snooze-fest either. But then we get to the other possibility which is the director knows he has a first class bomb of a movie & he needs a naked woman being chewed apart opening the film in the first few minutes to get everyone’s attention. Sadly, this is the case behind the inclusion of this scene in Fred Andrews new film “Creature”. A film that has bulldozed it’s way into my “Worst Of The Year” list.
The film details the adventure of a group of friends that are going on an excursion into the backwoods of Louisiana. Why are they doing this? I really don’t know. If a reason was mentioned I sure didn’t hear it coming from any of the character’s mouths. So the six of them get in a car & eventually get lost. The six are comprised of a brother & his sister and two couples in love. As they continue to be lost, there is the usual character banter between the six of them in the car. I suppose this was the part of the script that each character’s background is discussed & we get to know a bit more about each of them. Which is fine, I mean we should know something about each of them before the film kicks into second gear, right? Unfortunately, their banter is mindless & more importantly….boring. We don’t get to know much of anything about any of them except which pairs are couples & which aren’t. Big whoop…
They stumble upon a gas station that doesn’t have any gas to sell but does have cold beer & snacks inside available for purchase. The station is run by Chopper (Sid Haig) & he has a couple of backwoods, red neck types working in the store with him. All of them make the usual small talk between themselves until an old poster is found describing a picture of a half man, half Alligator on display. When asked about it, Chopper details the legend of the man called “Lockjaw” to them. Lockjaw’s real name was Grimley and he lived in a shack deep in the woods, living off of the land. It seems that the Grimley’s were an extremely close family, I mean an EXTREMELY CLOSE family.
And over the years the only two left were brother & sister. So as a lot of these EXTREMELY CLOSE families purportedly did back then. Grimley impregnated his sister. But they were genuinely in love & were planning to get married, that is until baby sis got caught and eaten by a White Alligator. Grimley, swearing revenge, tracks the beast to it’s lair & sees the remains of dozens of bodies, including his sister. So he promptly attacks it & after a brief tussle..kills it. But something happened to Grimley while in that cave & he ends up losing his mind at the sight of all the carnage surrounding him. As a matter of fact he gets so nutsy he polishes off all of the rest of the bodies strewn about, including his sister’s body. The legend says that he slowly changed afterwards into a half man, half Alligator and is searching for fresh meat to eat & a new woman to impregnate. Or that’s the story Chopper tells the kids anyway.
One of them wants to go to the shack where Grimley lived to look around so Chopper draws up a quick map (That looks like a long squiggly line. Nothing more) & points them in the right direction. Before they leave, one of Chopper’s employees (The one with six fingers total between both hands warns them that “They don’t know what a real monster looks like”. If you watch closely you see tons of newspaper clips on the walls of the shack. Some of them detailing the disappearances of locals. Some of them reporting on sinkholes that frequently open up in the Bayou. The kids buy some supplies, use the woods for a bathroom & leave to find Grimley’s home & get into some trouble because up to this point we haven’t seen much of our creature, “Lockjaw”.
There is a minor twist to the plot that might’ve come off as a little more shocking if it wasn’t telegraphed to the audience 30 minutes into the movie. But of course it was & when the film makes the twist official a hour or so into the film it isn’t shocking or even necessary quite frankly. It sort of reminded me of “The Last Exorcism” & the twist it had at the end. But it was saved for the end of that movie which made it more effective. In “Creature” it reeks of desperation. And why would the makers of this film be desperate for some sort of twist? Well my guess is that the creature, when finally seen, is as underwhelming a monster I’ve seen in a long time. We never really get a good glimpse of it either. Since Lockjaw prefers to do his stalking at night we mostly see a large silhouette of something lurching to & fro in the swamp.
The film continues to throw in nude scenes every so often. Apparently to wake the audience up. We get some half nude Lesbian sex thrown in as well. That’s cool, but when do we really get a good look at the creature? Well actually, you can get a good look at the creature on the poster for the film. His face is fully on display for all the world to see. I remember meeting the cast & crew of this film last Spring in L.A. & none would divulge what the creature looked like to me. All they would say is that it’s like nothing I’d seen before. I suppose that would be true if I hadn’t seen “Slithis”, “Mr. Sardonicus”, The Gorn (From the original “Star Trek”) or Killer Croc, who is one of Batman’s arch enemies. Hell, he even reminded me of the creature in a film called “Track Of The Moon Beast” (1976). It’s an amalgamation of all of these creatures. There is absolutely nothing original about the beast at all except for the fact that he seems to have pubic hair hiding his naughty Alligator bits & hair in his armpits. Was this their idea of originality in their “Creature”? Or were they just too embarrassed to show it to me last Spring & to the audience when it was released. I’m going with embarrassed myself.
Although Sid Haig is the most recognizable face in the movie, there are others you might be familiar with. Mechad Brooks who played “Eggs” in season two of “True Blood”, Serinda “Breakout Kings” Swan & most importantly (To me anyway) Amanda Fuller, who starred in “Red, White & Blue” which has been on my “Best Of list” since I first saw it a few months ago. She is absolutely ferocious in that movie & if you haven’t seen it yet, first prepare yourself Cuz’ it’s gonna hit you hard. Then sit down & watch the best American movie of the last ten years.
But I’m supposed to be talking about “Creature” here aren’t I? I will commend the production for going for a good old “Man in a monster suit” movie with no CGI effects used at all. I will commend Daniel Bernhardt as well. He can’t act a lick (The scene of him on his knees screaming after his sister/wife is consumed is hilariously overwrought), but he did wear that cumbersome creature get up & tried to make it move menacingly. Sid Haig and the rest of the cast are pretty good too even if it seems like Sid was just putting a bit of a spin on his Captain Spaulding character from “The Devil’s Rejects/House Of 1000 Corpses”. He’s great in every film I’ve see him in, even if the film sucks the big one. But “Creature” doesn’t seem to know where it’s going a lot of the time. Characters are introduced & are never seen again. People are shot & fall to the ground writhing in pain only to get up seconds later to engage in hand to hand combat with the creature whose strength seems to grow stronger sometimes & diminish other times depending on who he’s tussling with.
And the endings (Of which there are two, maybe three if you look at it a certain way) are all patently ridiculous. Ridiculous to the point that even if it was a good film (And It isn’t). You’d leave the theater mad at the stupidity being flung about in all directions. “Creature” opened today in all of nine theaters in NYC. There were no newspaper ad’s for it, no commercials or radio ad’s either. Nor was it screened for critics. If I wasn’t invited to what I thought was a screening of the movie I wouldn’t have known it was released. Of course factoring in the amount of people in the theater on a balmy Friday night (Nine, including me), it should be on DVD/Blu-Ray in about four weeks I’d reckon. “Creature” belongs on the SYFY channel, plain & simple. Just edit out the nudity & bingo! A new Saturday night exclusive from SYFY!
I had tried to set up an interview with the director before the film opened earlier this year. We exchanged some e-mails & it seemed like it was going to happen. But it never did. I wonder if he knew he’d be lying to me about how great the movie is and being bothered by that? A director with a conscience? Perish the thought! But he forgot the old adage: “Any publicity is good publicity”. “Creature” has apparently curried the favor of Chris Alexander though, the editor of Fangoria magazine.. It even made the cover! I don’t know what substance Mr. Alexander was on while watching this movie but I’d love to try some & give this & “Shark Night 3D” another looksie. But if he was of sound mind & body while watching this…well it’s OK Chris, we all make mistakes sometimes.
“Creature” gets 1 1/2 shrouds from The Black Saint. Mainly for some evocative cinematography, Sid Haig’s performance, some naked white chicks & the fact that they tried to make an “Old School” monster movie like the ones I grew up on. But take my advice, if you HAVE to see it in a theater try to sneak in a beer or two. Beer makes everything better, Even “Creature”….I hope.