Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #229
Number of Views: One
Release Date: September 9, 2011
Sub-Genre: Monster Movie
Country of Origin: United States
Running Time: 93 minutes
Director: Fred M Andrews
Producers: Sidney Sheinberg, Jonathan Sheinberg, Bill Shineberg
Screenplay: Fred M Andrews, Tracy Morse
Special Effects: Jerry Constantine, Christopher Dooly, Roland Blancaflor
Visual Effects: Roger Nall
Cinematography: Christopher Faloona
Score: Kevin Haskins
Editing: Chris Conlee
Studios: The Bubble Factory, Lockjaw Productions
Distributor: ARC Entertainment
Stars: Mehcad Brooks, Serinda Swan, Dillon Casey, Lauren Schneider, Aaron Hill, Amanda Fuller, Wayne Pére, David Jensen, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Daniel Bernhardt, Sid Haig, Jennifer Lynn Warren, Lance E. Nichols, Rebekah Kennedy
Suggested Audio Candy
Chasing June “Keep on the Sunny Side of Life”
I’ve never been one for hearsay. It’s all too easy to make up your mind based purely on somebody else’s skewed opinion and become influenced by their vitriolic words. This occurs regularly with movies, the knives are out in advance of some features even seeing the light of day and, before you know it, said movie is vilified unjustly and consigned to perpetual obscurity. I don’t play like that, positive reviews I may well read and cherry pick from, whereas negative judgments I generally cast aside in favor of forming my own opinion.
When Fred M. Andrews’ Creature reared its admittedly ugly head it was swiftly ridiculed almost unanimously and was deemed so tragic that it promptly ended up propping up many critics’ annual worst lists. Whilst this doesn’t bode particularly well, I was determined to give this low-budget monster movie a fair crack of the whip. Knowing that there is generally no smoke without fire, I had my concerns as this wasn’t just one hoity-toity naysayer spouting the venom but nigh on every last one of them. Nevertheless I pressed on and donated 93 minutes of my time to exploring this romp in the swamp myself.
Having now viewed it for myself I hold my hands up. Creature is admittedly the runt of the litter, a piece of celluloid which makes so many critical errors that it is very hard to fight its corner. Is it an utter waste of your time? Quite possibly. Much of that depends on whether you consume enough alcohol or barbiturates to numb yourself to its badness. That is not to say that it has no redeeming qualities, it just hides them well. Even an appearance from horror royalty Sid Haig, in a role seemingly plucked straight from House of 1000 Corpses, fails to lift it above pond scum.
It starts promisingly enough if you forget the fact that the opening slaughter of a naked swimming vixen isn’t actually performed by the creature of the title. At the very least it suggests that something ominous is lurking within the reeds and that copious splatter will likely be inbound. We cut to a group of friends (Mehcad Brooks, Amanda Fuller, Aaron Hill, Lauren Schneider, Serinda Swan and Dillon Casey) who are on a camping expedition way off the beaten track. Instantly we are in utterly familiar territory and it is plain as day at this point that originality isn’t high on Andrews’ list of priorities.
The group of stereotypical teens are, of course, both handsome and obnoxious; just the recipe for a good old-fashioned backwoods splatterfest the likes of which we have endured a thousand times over. They make a stop off to meet the locals and, one wonders at this point, whether folk are ever going to realize that running into Haig on your travels through Hicksville is never going to be a promising omen. So far, so cliché. Despite the fact that there is nothing on exhibit which has even the vaguest semblance of creative spirit it is not too late to grab some B-grade jollies and revel in the grue.
This is where Creature strikes out in style. Given the fact that the inbred human alligator hybrid of the title possesses rows of sharpened gnashers, it actually prefers to do much of its dirty work off-screen and the promised bloodbath never really materializes. Moreover, there are certain inconsistencies to its attack pattern. One minute it is burly enough to rip appendages away from their roots with gay abandon whilst the next it struggles holding its own in a fist fight. I shit you not, it goes ten rounds with one victim and looks ready to throw in the towel after five.
The plot is beyond ludicrous and descends further into the pits of burlesque with every risible revelation. Clearly we aren’t expecting high art and, should the beer be doing its job, then the numbness will already be setting in by the time these divulgements occur. However, the cast play it straight and sometimes one must question whether downright parody would be better suited to a film which knows it isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. I actually loathe horror which is too knowing and plays entirely for laughs but, on this occasion, I think the decision would have been wholly justifiable.
I was really hoping to fight Creature’s corner. It may be misguided, to say the least, but it’s also inoffensive trashy schlock and there is nothing I love more than a spot of inoffensive trashy schlock. However, having recently viewed Feast III: The Happy Finish and being thoroughly entertained as well as doused in gallons upon gallons of blood, its foibles become far harder to forgive. It’s not a complete waste of your energy and, with a group of buddies and intoxication, there’s worse ways to spend an hour and a half. But it fails on so many levels that even Keeper struggles to defend it.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 5/10
Grue Factor: 3/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: There is a reasonable amount of bloodletting on exhibit ranging from gnawed off legs, ripped out throats, cut off feet and impalement. Despite this, very little is actually shown other than the obligatory blood spatter and after-the-event injury detail. I will say this however, there are few movies which include a human eating an alligator so, in that respect, it brings us a first. Skin is here in abundance; women will no doubt enjoy the sight of muscle-bound ex-marines strolling about sans tops and the guys get a tittie fest for their troubles.
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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