Aliens, Documentary, Horror, Interview, Monsters, Science Fiction

The Creep Behind the Camera (2014)/The Creeping Terror (1964)

Comments Off on The Creep Behind the Camera (2014)/The Creeping Terror (1964) 21 January 2018

Creep_BTC_web

Blu-ray Distributed By: Synapse Films

Blu-ray Release: September 12, 2017

Director: Pete Schuermann

Rating: UnRated

Reviewed By James M. Dubs

I’ll watch anything…including The Creep Behind the Camera (2014)/The Creeping Terror (1964).

When my lovely wife stops down to watch one of the movies I’m reviewing for UnRated or Trash Men, I know I’ve probably got something special. She usually asks me something along the lines of, “What garbage are you watching tonight?” This question might insult some but, in nearly all cases, this question is an accurate depiction of reality in my home. I watch a lot of garbage! However in this instance, something about The Creep Behind the Camera, part fictionalized biography and part documentary hybrid, caught her attention. This, in turn, lead me to take the film somewhat more seriously than the standard crap I consume. And if it’s good enough for my wife, certainly it’s good enough for you too, right?

The Creep Behind the Camera – Rating: ★★★½☆

A creature is haunting the streets of Los Angeles, waiting for the cover of night to stalk innocent young girls. Hungry for fame and fortune, it’s fueled by a demonic rage ready to devour anyone attempting to hinder its becoming the most powerful entity in Hollywood. While sometimes called A.J. Nelson, this demon is more commonly known as Vic Savage. This is his story…

Told through re-enactments and containing shockingly true stories of many of the actual people involved with the production, Pete Schuermann’s THE CREEP BEHIND THE CAMERA is the funny and ultimately terrifying saga of the making of THE CREEPING TERROR, and a disastrous portrait of a talentless artist who ultimately succumbs to his own self-destructive behavior. Starring Josh Phillips in the larger-than-life performance as Vic Savage, and Jodi Lynn Thomas (AMC’s PREACHER) as his unsuspecting wife Lois, THE CREEP BEHIND THE CAMERA pays vibrant tribute to an inglorious chapter in the history of genre cinema, incidentally exposing one of the most unimaginably radical antitheses of the Hollywood dream.

There is no shortage of documentaries exploring cataclysmic failures in film history. Some of my personal favorites include Best Worst Movie, Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four, and Lost in La Mancha. Documentary films work by constructing a story with interviews and footage culled together from archival sources. Sometimes re-enactments are filmed to visualize historical information in lieu of archival footage. These scenes almost never have scripted dialogue. Typically a narrator will explain the background as the actors re-enact the events. Think of any number of History Channel shows as an example.

In contrast to documentaries are the fictional biographical films that are usually marketed as “based on a true story”. These kind of films are scripted stories, with actors cast to replace the real life personalities, and have dramatic dialogue between characters to help develop an entertaining and emotional story. Think of films like Ed Wood, Man on the Moon, Chaplin, and Elvis in this category.

The Creep Behind the Camera is not a documentary. Nor is it purely fictionalized soap opera. It’s a little of both. I’ve included links to both the trailer (above) and the main title opening (below) so you can observe for yourself what I’m talking about. The trailer does a better job of showcasing more of the fictionalized aspects of the film. The main title excerpt showcases the blend of both. But if you were to ask me, I’d say The Creep Behind the Camera leans more toward fictional biography than pure documentary.

 

 

I don’t perceive Director Pete Schuermann’s depiction of A.J. Nelson (aka Vic Savage) to be accurate to the real life counterpart. As the main title excerpt showcases, Nelson/Savage stands naked in front of a mirror, donning a Hitler mustache and Nazi helmet, telling himself that he is God. I don’t doubt the actual events of the scene, but the depiction of events is presented in a way to make Nelson look like a fool and a clown rather than the monster he may have actually been. It doesn’t necessarily feel “true” but rather a fictional version of truth. Contrasted against some of the interviews that paint a more monstrous version of Nelson, scenes like this have more in common with Tim Burton’s Ed Wood than documentaries like Doomed!

But this is not a complaint, simply an observation on my part. The most glowing thing I can say about the film is that it’s consistently entertaining and interesting. My favorite moments include kisses with history (a term I gladly steal from Quantum Leap) as A.J. Nelson comes into contact with a young Charles Manson and has criminal dealings with Carl Switzer (best know as Alfalfa of The Little Rascals fame).

I also found myself comically entertained with The Creeping Terror screenwriter, Allan Silliphant, whom happens to have an unhealthy obsession with Lake Tahoe. I hardly exaggerate to report he mentions the lake nearly every time he is on screen. First he recalls his inspiration to set the story there, but then laments on the production decisions not to shoot on location. Later he is filmed expressing his absolute adoration of the “beautiful, perfect sheet of glass”. I even think he calls it the most beautiful place on Earth. If the lake were a woman, I get the impression he would defile her.

I do have one complaint. It’s a small one. The hybrid nature of The Creep Behind the Camera would tax my patience at times. I found the transitions between talking head style interviews and fictionalized narrative would pull my attention out of the film’s flow momentarily. My brain would say, “Wait a minute! I was interested in hearing more about what that guy/gal was saying.” Then my mind would go through this process of trying to re-engage with the story as the actors took control. 

For example, one of the film’s very first topics involves an interview with screenwriter Silliphant describing the plot synopsis of The Creeping Terror. This section has some nice animated pieces to visualize the writers vision as he passionately explores what could have been. The following scene is a staged fictional encounter between Nelson and original creature designer. Instead of voice-over narration, a la History Channel doc, Schuermann allows his actors to perform a scripted fictional encounter. The juxtaposition of the two kinds of film styles jarred me just enough to distract my attention.

To be fair, I only experienced this problem early on in the film. After about 30 minutes I got used to the flow. And when I asked my wife, she said she didn’t experience this same problem. It’s possible this criticism is limited to just me.

I would gladly recommend Synapse Films’ The Creep Behind the Camera on the film’s merits alone, but as they typically do, they have packed the blu-ray with more information and extras than you probably need or asked for.

Disc Features (per synapse-films.com)…

  • All-New 2K Scan of the Original Horror Classic, THE CREEPING TERROR (Blu-ray Exclusive)
  • Audio Commentary with Director Pete Schuermann, Producer Nancy Theken and Stars Josh Phillips & Jodi Lynn Thomas
  • The Making of THE CREEP BEHIND THE CAMERA
  • How to Build a Carpet Monster
  • Breaking Down Art’s Death Scene
  • Monster Movie Homages
  • “One Mick to Another” with Byrd Holland & Allan Silliphant
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Alternate Ending
  • Screamfest Black Carpet Q&A with Frank Conniff
  • The Creep Behind the Camera – Original Theatrical Trailer
  • The Creeping Terror – Screamfest Promotional Trailer
  • Newly Translated Removable SDH English Subtitles

But the most significant extra is the inclusion of The Creeping Terror…

The Creeping Terror – Rating: ★★☆☆☆

In 1964, Vic Savage made THE CREEPING TERROR with a microscopic budget verging on the non-existent. Quickly earning a reputation as the worst movie ever made, it tells of the arrival of an unconvincing alien life-form (a shambling carpet creature made of plastic tubing, wire and soap) that devours its picnicking, dancing and guitar-playing victims. Much like the infamous Ed Wood, Savage managed to pull off a variety of schemes to convince an honest producer to invest in what he promised to be “the biggest monster movie ever made”.

It’s not mandatory viewing to appreciate The Creep Behind the Camera without first experiencing The Creeping Terror, but it is a very welcome addition to the blu-ray. And for this review I did watch it prior to the main attraction.

I must admit that I made a grave error. I watched The Creeping Terror alone. It has been called one of the best-worst movies ever made, but without the help of a group audience experience, I found the film to be mostly dull. Much is made of the cheap space monster and the poor dialogue. If you take in a lot of cheesy 50s-60s, black and white, science fiction as I do, these things don’t make it unique. But one thing does.

The film is almost entirely explained through third person narration. My initial thought was that Synapse Films remastered the film from the wrong source. I thought they had accidentally included a TV version cut of the film. Surely the narration over 98% of the film could not possibly be from the original release. Right?

As is discussed in The Creep Behind the Camera, the narration was in deed produced for the final version of the film! So you can understand why some may consider this a good-bad movie. But best-worst? Maybe after a second viewing with friends I’ll come around to that perspective.

Final Thoughts

Synapse Films has been crushing it lately with releases like Suspiria, Phenomena, and Popcorn. But don’t over look some of the smaller titles in their catalog. The Creep Behind the Camera may not have the same mass appeal draw as their signature releases, but Synapse has included two films for the price of one and a bevy of extras that will keep you busy and entertained for hours. 

Author

- who has written 70 posts on UnRated Film Review Magazine | Movie Reviews, Interviews.

James Dubs is a father and husband who loves his family first and movies a close second. He believes every movie is worth watching once and, as a film fan and critic, believes that even the worst movies offer something in return. His mission is to watch anything and report without pretension. Follow James Dubs on Twitter and send him suggestions on movies you would like reviewed - popular, obscure, independent, etc. He'll watch anything for you.

Contact the author

Comments are closed.

Enter Your Email

FBFPowered by ®Google Feedburner

© 2018 UnRated Film Review Magazine | Movie Reviews, Interviews. Powered by WordPress.

Daily Edition Theme by WooThemes - Premium WordPress Themes

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers

Share This
web analytics