18th Jan2014

‘Grindhouse 13: The Creeps’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Rhonda Griffin, Justin Lauer, Bill Moynihan, Kristin Norton, Jon Simanton | Written by Benjamin Carr | Directed by Charles Band

the-creeps

I’ll be honest, The Creeps originally came at a time when, beyond the Puppet Master movies, I had grown tired of Full Moon’s schtick… Having moved the studio to Romania, their production values were falling, casting choices were resulting in some truly wooden performances and worst of all their films were getting more and more ridiculous, with gimmicks replacing decent stories. Case in part, The Creeps.

Released in 1997, The Creeps – at least on paper – sounds utterly ridiculous, even for a Full Moon flick, and it’s easy to see why I avoided it for so long. The film is essentially a redux of the “mad scientist” story we’ve seen a million times before – itself a movie archetype as much as the classic monsters who are the heroes of this tale – but with that Full Moon twist.

The film sees Dracula, Frankenstein, The Werewolf and The Mummy brought back to life, but there’s a problem in the process… Though imbued with most of the expected attributes, the creatures’ creator made a little error in the equation and these villainous literary icons are only three feet tall and not happy at all. These mini-monsters must now embark on a mission to complete their creation at any cost.

See what I mean? Three-foot tall classic movie monsters? Sounds ridiculous right? And in some ways it is. But I’m glad this new release from 88 Films forced me to go back and give The Creeps a watch because in the end it turned out to be a fun little flick that, whilst it has a few problems, is light years above and beyond Full Moon’s most recent output and for once the tongue-in-cheek nature of the film actually works in its favour.

First off lets get the bad out of the way: Justin Lauer as the video store owner come PI hired to investigate a stolen Frankenstein book gives a wooden and truly unconvincing performance – although I did love his characters many movie references, including the likes of Jess Franco’s Venus in Furs, John Woo’s The Killer and many more! Plus the film has a bizarre ending that sees the films heroine convince Dracula and co. that they need to go back to the literary world because they could die in our world which “needs its monsters” – and it works!

However the good really does outweigh the bad: The Creeps’ lead actress Rhonda Griffin, has some great comic timing – playing the ditzy blonde role to perfection, so much so that at times you might not realise she is actually just acting, her comedic bad delivery and a ridiculous OTT “scream queen” scream almost had me fooled a couple of times! The mini-monsters are, for the most part, silent and oh-so-not-deadly, apart from the awesome Phil Fondacaro as the diminutive Dracula. Fondacaro never disappoints, whether it be a guest-starring role or a lead (as it is here) and his vampire is this films straight man, taking everything oh so serious – which only works to heighten the tongue-in-cheek nature of the film.

Not one of Full Moon’s best movies, but definitely not one of it’s worst (by a long way), I was taken completely by surprise by The Creeps – if not for the weird sexual fetish of the main librarian in the film and her topless scene, this could actually be a great family horror a la Gremlins. Which is the highest praise I think you could give a Full Moon DTV flick…

The Creeps is released on DVD on January 27th, courtesy of 88 Films.

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