Monday, 27 January 2014

The Creeps (1997)

      “Perhaps you imagined me somewhat...taller.”
Once again we take an excursion into the properly odd courtesy of one of 88 Films’ Grindhouse releases (this one’s Number 13 in the series) and good old Charles Band, who both produces and directs this time around.
Mad scientist Winston Berber (Bill Moynihan) is busy amassing a collection of first edition manuscripts of famous horror novels. He already has Guy Endore’s Werewolf of Paris and Nina Wilcox Putnam’s The Mummy. He pinches Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein from under the nose of pretty librarian Anna Quarrie (non-actress Rhonda Griffin). Anna knows her Mary Woronov-alike boss Miss Christina (Kristin Norton) isn’t going to be happy about that, and she's certainly going to stop asking her to Rita Mae Brown readings if she finds out, so she employs video shop owner-cum-private detective David Raleigh (Justin Lauer) to help her find it. Meanwhile Berber is after Bram Stoker’s Dracula as well. He intends to use these books, and the machine he has in his Portacabin laboratory, to bring the classic horror monsters to life. He needs a virgin for this but things go a bit wrong and the monsters emerge from their creation booths only three feet tall. The rest of the running time deals with their attempts to return themselves to their proper size, which include turning Miss Christina into a Valkyrie. 
THE CREEPS is another good natured, and rather peculiar, film that can’t quite decide if it’s for children or not (the brief nudity would suggest not but knowing Mr Band he was probably covering all the bases here with the intention of editing afterwards). Even so, the 18 certificate on this one is a bit of a mystery as there’s barely anything to raise it above a 12. There are plenty of in-jokes for obscure horror film buffs - Raleigh deals in uncut widescreen versions of Jess Franco classics like VAMPYROS LESBOS and BARBED WIRE DOLLS, and at one point someone turns up at the video shop asking if Band’s 1997 movie HIDEOUS is out on VHS yet. 
Fans of serious stuff should stay well away, but if you want to see a pretty girl in a gold satin bra being chased around a library by tiny versions of the mummy, the werewolf, Frankenstein’s monster and Dracula (Phil Fondacaro who’s very good, by the way) you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven. 
          88 Films’ DVD is framed at 1.33:1 and looks cropped. The imdb claims the original aspect of THE CREEPS was 2.35:1 but I find that very hard to believe. Extras include the Full Moon trailer park and a Videozone segment, but the real surprise here is the inclusion of Charles Band’s THE BEST OF SEX AND VIOLENCE. Basically a trailer compilation hosted by John Carradine that was issued on Band’s own Wizard Video back in the 1980s, it’s a collection of obscure stuff that’s far more interesting (and brain frying) than the main feature. I've certainly never seen so many trailers for 1970s pornographic musical versions of fairy tales in my life, but then I’m not what you’d call an expert in these things. Worth picking up if you saw the adverts for it on the back of Fangoria all those years ago and want to satisfy your curiosity.

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