Creature gets a lot of flack, all without the benefit of people actually having sat through it first. It’s easy to judge a movie like Creature and just pass it off as just another crappy horror romp… but I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and see what it’s got to offer. After all, it can’t be nearly as bad as the remake of The Hills Have Eyes.
At first glance, Creature seems like your run-of-the-mill horror flick, complete with hot people getting it on in the woods while a “creature” stalks them and kills them… while it is partly that, it is much, much more as well. It feels more like a cult movie that makes a conscious decision to make you think it’s one thing in the beginning, but then it pulls the rug out from under you later on. It’s more inventive, story-wise, than dozens of other shlock horror flicks I’ve seen in my time and it actually has something to say, rather than just “having sex in the woods is wrong, therefore death.”
Hit the jump to find out what it does wrong… and what it does so very, very right…
The premise of Creature is as such: Three ex-navy seals and three girls, some of which are brother and sister are on a road trip to visit New Orleans to, presumably, get their drink on and party ’til dawn. But, through the graces of fate, they wind up at a local convenience shop in a hick town in Louisiana. The shop owners convince the group that they have to visit the site of the town legend, Grimley, who was the product of inbreeding. Over a hundred years ago, Grimley planned to marry his sister, but then an alligator ate her… so he ate him back. Thus, Grimley became the “creature.” That’s seriously the whole story. It’s even told in a moody flashback sequence. Then the group winds up at the site. I’m sure you can see where this is going.
The cast is pretty special, I have to say. Pruitt Taylor Vince is a crazy hick wanderer, to describe him most aptly. Sid Haig plays a fatherly owner of a local convenience shop in the hick town. Dillon Casey plays Oscar, one of the twenty-something kids, and he’s perhaps the best character of all, just for the fact that he hams it up the most. Mehcad Brooks plays the strong, self-righteous dude who acts charming and cool until shit gets real. Lauren Schneider plays slutty sister to Oscar, and she’s really convincing as far as that goes. Then there’s David Jenson and Wayne Pére, who both play some hilarious shopkeepers along with Sid Haig’s character. The bunch of them are gems as far as I’m concerned.
I’m going to ruin it for everybody right now: Not everyone who has sex in this movie dies! Even more surprising, there’s very little sex to be had at all in this film. In fact, there are more scenes involving implied sexual acts and teasing than there is actual sex. It’s really not an exploitation flick and it’s all the better for it. So many Friday the 13ths and Nightmare on Elm Streets and Texas Chainsaw Massacres have done that same formula for over 40 years or so. It nauseates me to see the same thing rehashed over and over again while I think to myself “Is this the best they could come up with? This is the 10th sequel, for god sakes.” I’m not saying Creature is the epitome of originality, but it at least tries to be different.
Something that I feel must be noted about this film… is that it’s fucking hilarious. Unless you’re one to take everything as serious as cancer, chances are you’ll find something to chuckle at in this film. Either because of the inherent silliness of scenes or due to the awkward chemistry between the leads, there is plenty of juicy stuff to enjoy here on a shlock entertainment level. Over-acting abounds in this movie as everyone in the cast is eager to give their best performance… except that their best performance would be considered melodramatic even by soap opera thespians.
Perhaps most important is the story, which I won’t divulge entirely, but let’s just say that there’s a good mixture of (fake?) New Orleans folklore and good old-fashioned creepy hick towns coupled with a dash of religious overtones. It’s got something for everybody. I mentioned that the story takes a turn somewhere during the middle of the movie, and this is the fake-out moment when you realize things aren’t what you thought they were. I was actually caught off-guard by the twist, and though it could have been executed to greater effect, the results were interesting. You realize that some parts of people’s characters were just a show and there was something deeper happening below it all. I definitely am curious to see the movie again just to notice these small hints the second time around.
Talking about the creature for one moment, since there really isn’t any mystery to it anyway (its face is in the poster for crying out loud), I’ll go ahead and describe it very simply. It’s like Venom and Swamp Thing had a lovechild. That’s pretty much the eponymous “creature” that everyone’s so afraid of. Getting a look at this thing’s face harkens back to the goombas in The Super Mario Bros. movie. The thing growls and grunts throughout most of the time they’re in the woods, even when nobody is supposed to be hearing it. This could be due to limitations in budget or perhaps they just thought more grunts = more entertainment.
Speaking of technical limitations, there’s something that really grates on me in films, and that’s when they use normal speed film and slow it down to that of 4 frames a second. It’s like watching a choppy documentary or something. I don’t know what’s so difficult about shooting in slow-motion in the first place, unless they hadn’t planned on slowing these scenes down until it went into post-production, in which case, plan better next time, guys. There are also some scenes that drag on too long WHILE using this effect, one time for a full three minutes. Overall, though, it doesn’t detract too much from the film and it does go along with the whole over-dramatic shlockiness of it all.
Creature is by no means a great film. It’s shlock entertainment and its production values are way down. That being said, is Creature worth seeing? Well, I think despite its stigma, Creature is an entertaining flick and well worth watching on a Friday night at someone’s place. I wouldn’t say to pay top-dollar to see it, because you’ll probably end up feeling cheated… But for what it is, it’s certainly something special. It may be shlock, but at least it’s fun shlock. You might hate it or you might enjoy yourself; one never knows with these films. However, you really can’t give a film too much flack when, during the end credits, it uses the religious folk song “Give Me That Old Time Religion” in ironic context ala Inherit the Wind. Just sayin’.
Overall Score: 7.15 – Good. (7s are good, but not great. These films often have a stereotypical plot or are great movies that have a few minor flaws. Fans of this movie’s genre might love it, but others will still enjoy seeing it in theaters.)