The Creeping Terror


Year 1964

Vic Savage   as  Martin Gordon
Shannon O'Neil as Brett Gordon
William Thourlby as Dr. Bradford
John Caresio as Col. James Caldwell
 
Director - Art J. Nelson (a.k.a. Vic Savage)  
Editor - A.J. Nelson (a.k.a. Vic Savage)  
Screenwriter - Alan Silliphant
Monster Designer - Jon Lackey

What is the name of the worst movie ever made? A member of the sheeple (check out the Swaim anti-marriage video on cracked.com) would say, Plan 9 from Outer Space. A very lame response. Others would suggest another Ed Woods movie since Plan 9 is one of his better ones. A better response, but the reply still shows the signs of a neophyte.

With Ed Woods, you've not come close to the bottom. Surface, take a deep breath, and dive again into the barrel of refuse. There, just out of fingers' reach, you can see them, the bottom dwellers. Grab a couple and bring them up to the surface. OK! Let's check out your treasure.

You picked Manos: Hands of Fate and The Creeping Terror. Wow! You went down to the very bottom! Or did you? It's dark down there and it may be bottomless. Nevertheless, you went down further than anyone else has to this point. Congratulations!

Give this diver some oxygen so that he can cleanse his lungs! Too pure after that excursion? Give him a smoke! That'll burn out the poisons.

Here's a little back-story on this one. If I'm not ordering from Amazon, I usually get my movies at Fry's Electronics. Believe it or not, they're cheaper than Amazon. I avoid Best Buy because they're too expensive and they have a lousy selection. At least that's what I thought until recently.

This past weekend, I felt that I'd done the Fry's movies to death, so I checked out a couple of other places. First stop was FYE. Lots of movies, but I found nothing interesting. Mostly, they were either movies that were popular at the box office or chick flicks. There were a few exceptions, like Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, but I'd just seen that one at the theater...twice.

Next stop, Hot Topics. Yeah, I'm the old guy who goes into that store. I keep hoping to trip across some Samhain, or NFD, or Last Rites or something. Instead, I get Lady Gaga. My wife likes her, so I probably won't. The only group we both like is Aerosmith and even then it's for different reasons. The only DVDs in Hot Topics are concert DVDs and Boondock Saints II. Go, Boondock Saints!

Am I really going to go back to Fry's? Let's stop at Best Buy, just because...because...because it's on the way. Yeah, that's it! It's on the way.

In the front of the store is, Boondock Saints II. Maybe Best Buy is starting to look promising. Then comes the Blu-Ray section. It's huge! Trouble is, I don't have my Blu-Ray player with me. I'm traveling and all I've got is my laptop with DVD. I keep walking.

The DVD section is still there and it's no smaller than it used to be, which means it's not that big. I check the prices and find that they're reasonable. It's not like it used to be when DVD prices started at fifteen bucks. "The Bare Witch Project"? $15   Martin Lawrence films? $15  DeNiro films? $20 (I sometimes wonder if, years ago, I shouldn't have purchased "The Bare Witch Project."..because I'm a masochist.)

Most of the movies looked like they came from FYE. Somebody moved them from FYE to Best Buy while I was in Hot Topics. But wait! What's this? "Drive-In Cult Classics?" I check the back of the box of Volume 3. The word "anamorphic" appears. Huh? Maybe this isn't just some schlocky transfer. I check the titles. Unfortunately, they sound like softcore nonsense. I move on.

Another collection grabs my attention 100 Science Fiction Movies or something like that. It's only $40 for 100 movies. I check the back. Nothing great, even counting the few that I recognize, is included. I put it back.

The next day I'm on Amazon checking comments. It turns out that the "Drive-In Cult Classics" gets positive reviews for the transfer if nothing else. And "100 Mystery Classics" gets better reviews than "100 Science Fiction Movies." I go back to Best Buy. For the first time in years, they get some money from me. For about $53 I get 116 movies. That's about $0.46 per movie. "100 Mystery Classics" was only $30 and each of the two "Drive-In" packs was $10.

Which brings us to this movie, The Creeping Terror. About forty years ago (I can't be that old!) on Friday nights, we used to visit my aunt's. On her black and white television, we'd sometimes watch a movie. Usually, the movies were really bad so instead of watching the TV, we'd run around the house and get yelled at for misbehaving. It passed the time and exasperated our parents.

But, every so often a really, really bad movie would come on and we couldn't look away. Once, the most powerful threat to Earth was a guy in a gorilla suit wearing a silver-looking fishbowl and rabbit ears (the TV kind). We couldn't look away. Our eyes burned and brain cells cried for surcease, but we...could...not...look...away. The name of the movie is indelibly etched in my mind, taking up neurons that might otherwise have held the secret of unlimited free electricitym and its name was - "The Robot Monster."

The agony! To wait for an eternity (an hour is an eternity if you're about twelve) waiting for a cool robot to show up and then be presented with a moth eaten costume that even you wouldn't wear on Halloween for fear of ridicule does something to you. It twists you in ways that Jung and Lovecraft only hinted at. This travesty can also be found at the bottom of the barrel of movie effluvia, but we'll wait on that one.

For now, let's get back to The Creeping Terror. One night, on this station which probably broadcast from Russia to demoralize Americans, came a movie about an alien carpet. I remember this movie because of the carpet and one girl in tight gold slacks doing the twist. At least the slacks looked like what gold slacks would look like if they were turned into black and white. I didn't know why I liked the way this girl moved since I was only starting to go through the change, but I remember liking it. I couldn't remember the name of the movie, though.

Flash forward to last night and the disks that had I paid eleven hard earned bucks for (including tax). Low and behold, on the same package with "They Saved Hitler's Brain" was a movie called The Creeping Terror. This package, "Drive-In Movie Cult Classics: Volume 2" includes a booklet giving a bit of history on the included movies.

That someone thought so much of this drivel that they would invest the time and the money to produce a pamphlet to accompany the release of eight horrid movies for ten bucks...well, it kind of choked me up and brought a tear to my eye. When you're a fringe person, like I am, knowing that there are others out there like you makes you feel all warm and normal inside. Good work, author of the pamphlet Brian Albright! Huzzah! (Once you say "huzzah" nothing else will do.)

The phrase "man-eating carpet" appears in the pamphlet and is associated with The Creeping Terror. Could it be? Will I see the monster? Will I see the girl in the gold, skin-tight slacks doing the twist? Oh, baby! Let's find out!

This movie wastes no time even attempting to be legitimate, and you've got to love it for that reason. The movie begins with a voiceover by someone who never identifies themselves as having anything to do with the movie. It would be like a Greek chorus if it was Greek or a chorus. But it's not. Instead it's a droning voice that attempts to mask the fact that the producers and director(s?) lost most of the recorded audio. "The heck!" you say.

Unlike Italian cinema, where this is intended, in this movie it's unintended and just flat not there. According to Albright, some of the actors were paid to come back and rerecord their dialogue, but not everyone. So, although everyone talks, very few words are heard except for the narrator who goes on and on and on.

The movie opens at night with a car driving on a lonely road. Appreciate the fact that it's dark outside. It's the only time in the entire movie when it's dark outside. The attack at the Community Center? Late afternoon. The attack in a heavily populated Lover's Lane? Noonish.

Back to the car at night. Something happens. It's out of focus, so you're not sure what it's supposed to be. Maybe it's a little used interstate? Maybe it's street lights? Maybe it's a landing spaceship? It can't be the last, because they show the spaceship landing. The landing is stock footage of the Mercury 7, the one that carried Shepperd and Glenn, taking off...only in reverse. That's our alien ship plunking down.

In the next scene, the ship no longer flies the Stars and Stripes and has somehow metamorphosed into something else and, even though it "landed" vertically, it slid under a tree. A door opens, or rather somebody pulls out a panel and we're treated to another first and only event. The door never opens again. It must've broken on the first try. From this point on, everyone crawls under the door to get in and out of the spaceship. It's done so often that you can actually watch the ingress/egress trough get deeper and deeper as the movie progresses.

But, it works the first time the invader exits. Is that a carpet? An ant lion? A totem? A Picasso of the female anatomy? Stop laughing and wipe the tears from your eyes! Tell me what you see!

You know what I saw? Six or seven guys covered with a rug, probably shag, that looks stained by an uneven application of battery acid. Why do I think that there's more than one person under all that? The person in the front covered by the totem keeps trying to move forward. The guys in the Chinese dragon hind quarters aren't coordinated with him or each other and can't make any progress. This keeps the front section from making progress and it often looks like he's attempting to run through water. In fact, the totem sometimes look like he's going to fall backwards because the guys under the rug aren't moving in the same direction he is.

The guy in the totem, in more than one scene, is flailing just to keep his balance. It's like Barney the purple dinosaur if he had five attention deficit disorder midgets helping him with his tail. I'll bet there was a lot of swearing going on. Too bad the audio track is missing.

A trivial fact is that the original carpet didn't make it all the way through the shooting. The designer didn't get paid so he took his flopsy mopsy thing and went home. As a result, there's a second, even more attocious version running rampant in the second half of the movie.

The image on the left is the original monster design. The one on the right has too many eyes.

Let's talk about those dashes of authenticity that litter the film. Where having the military or the police show up adds legitimacy to any depicted alien invasion, this movie has both. A colonel, who is in charge of six or seven men, shows up. Aren't colonels in charge of divisions or something? And the cops are there, too. Both of them. There were four, but two were eaten.

Because that's how this walking remnant kills people, it swallows them whole. Shoes, purses, belts, skin-tight gold slacks, it doesn't matter. It all gets sucked in head first. This is just an excuse to show off the legs of some of the girls. Wait! There's a twelve year old's memory coming back. Yeah! That lived up to forgotten images at the conscious level. That ol' subconscious never lets go, though.

With an omnivorous diet, can you imagine the flatulence of this thing? They could track it by smell alone.

Have I mentioned the speed of this creature? Five guys covered with a heavy rug are going to travel at about, oh, five to ten miles every week or so. Potential victims look bored waiting for this thing to get around to ingesting them. Run away! Walk away! Sashay away! Crawl away! Build a car out of spare parts, tune it, prime it, paint it, sand it, lacquer it, and drive away!

But no one outruns the monster or even tries. They're paralyzed and not because they're laughing hysterically. Some victims actually scream.

The screams are synchronized with their mouths, which is a plus in this movie. In some scenes, a woman will have her mouth moving, but the words are those of the man whose mouth just finished moving.

But enough about the technical details, what about the scenes in the movie? Well, people kiss a lot. The hero kisses his new bride all the freaking time! Lover's Lane is a noontime destination for people in their forties so that they can kiss.

The cop hero, recently married, is becoming estranged from his single policeman partner because now that he's married, he needs to leave womanizing behind. The narrator tells us this over the course of five minutes while the single partner drinks his bourbon and seven and the married man necks with his wife on the couch.

There are lots of little lessons about the human condition that can be gleaned from a screening of this movie. Apparently, cops get over their grief quickly. For example, once the two dead policeman are dead, they're never mentioned again even though they were related to the hero. Or maybe they were related to his wife. I forget. Also, cops drink a lot after work, especially when there's an alien ship nearby and the military has been called in.

Then there's the "Hootenanny." Yes, that's what the narrator calls it. I think he said, "where they were having a hootenanny." I didn't know that you had hootenannies. I thought you have children, kittens, and a splitting migraine. But, it's good eatin' for the carpet. (OK. I can't resist anymore! I've got let it out! It's a carpet chewer! A carpet muncher! There! Are you happy now?)

At this frolic in the park, the alien proves how tough it is by not going down (I couldn't resist. Punish me, but I can't help it!) after being bludgeoned by a flimsy guitar. Fortunately, the campfire style (remember it's the middle of the day, so fires aren't needed) guitar player and singer extraordinaire is eaten and his strumming and yelping ceases.

There's also a stay-at-home wife who, after she spends ten or fifteen seconds waving to her husband as he leaves for work (even that car could outpace the monster) decides to check on her baby. He's in a crib and crying. She takes his temperature. How do you take a baby's temperature? No wonder the kid is screaming.

After checking the results of her medical procedure, she concludes her diagnosis. "You'll get better." Dr. Quinn, move over, you've got competition! (Must...not...reference...Barrack...Obeyme...socialized...health...care...Whew!)

The showdown with the military is a big scene. Six or seven guys dressed like they could be in the army approach the monster. From the way they're bunched together, they just finished playing Twister and they can't get all of the knots untied. A couple of them have rifles and some have hand guns.

The Land Warrior Herd Tactic at Play

Take your right hand and make a gun using your index finger as the barrel. Pretend to shoot it. (Don't forget to say, "Bang! Bang!) That's how these soldiers fire their weapons. They jerk their hands forward to give the impression that they've fired their weapons. Without sound or smoke, it's the only way these guys look like they're shooting.

Is the monster wounded? Is that sawdust? It's not blood or anything liquid. Must be insulation, or dried padding. But, it still manages to eat all but one soldier.

Now for the big scene. This is one where they spent their budget. The Community Center is hosting a dance, again in the middle of the day. There's a bar with bottles of alcohol, tables, chairs, people, and live music. For ten minutes we get to see creepy people twisting the mid-afternoon away.

At one table, there sits two couples, one middle-aged and one younger. The older couple must be the parents of one of the younger pair. The younger guy asks his girl to dance and she refuses. He gets up and asks a barfly to dance. The barfly accepts. The parents and the abandoned girl also accept...the situation.

As the guy dances, you know why his girl refused him. This guy makes Jerry Lewis in "The Nutty Professor" seem suave. Eddie Deezen is graceful compared to this guy.

Let's check out someone else. There she is! The girl in the skin-tight gold pants! She's twisting, too. Not bad, but nothing special. Why did I remember her so clearly? Eh.

Let's check out another couple. There's a drunk at the bar. He's staggering, his hair's a mess, and he's being ignored. At least these people have some decency. Or not because he's struck up a conversation with a girl. Fortunately Lothario's plans are interrupted by this girl's friend who wants to leave. They abandon the drunk. Don't feel sorry for him (as if you did) because he gets to slurp down the drinks that these girls didn't finish when they left.

There's the girl in the gold pants again. And some chunky woman who's trying to be seductive doing the twist. Oh, I hope it wasn't the chunky old girl that I'm really remembering. Please, make that stop!

Back to a scene of the whole room and the monster outside waiting to come in.

One more flash to the dancing before the announcement of the monster. There's the girl in the gold pants again. Twisting, twisting, twisting, shimmying, shaking, twisting... Wait! Back up. Shimmying and shaking! Gold pants! Girl of my prepubescent dreams! Shimmying and shaking! All is right with the world.

Queue the monster. It enters. Some people notice and they walk to the door. One guy, for no apparent reason rips a woman's blouse and there's some flesh shown, I think. Then there's a fistfight, again for no apparent reason except that the guy liked the girl's outfit and hated to see it ripped.

A couple more people notice the monster and walk to the exit in the rear of the building. Eventually, nearly everyone notices the monster, especially after the band stops playing. So, they all walk to the exit in the rear of the building. But, no one opens the exit doors. They wait a couple of minutes for the rug to plod over to them.

I'm thinking about how horrible the scene is. The guys in the costume must really be sweating.

The monster eats someone. Someone else opens the exit doors. The monster eats someone else. A few people decide to leave. The monster eats someone else. A few more people leave. This goes on until the place is empty.

I'm thinking that the monster must weigh in at close to two tons. One guy eaten had to be pushing three-hundred pounds just by himself. That's not counting his clothing, keys, loose change, or dentures. No wonder it's moving so slowly.

In the end, not enough people die, the monsters are machines, and our DNA has been shipped back to the monsters' home world. It made it seem like there was a sequel planned.

Now for the big question...is this the worst movie ever made? Personally, I would rather rewatch this movie or Manos: Hands of Fate then watch Chicago or U-571 or Oceans 12. This movie had me laughing out loud more than once. For example, there's actually a "make out car" in Lovers Lane with things like "23 Skidoo" painted on the fenders.

This movie is NOT worse than Chicago or U-571 or Oceans 12. The special effects are only slightly worse than those in Chicago and the story arc is MORE CREDIBLE than that in any of the other three. Let's put everybody in the pool! To compare like things, let's includethe current basement dweller for cheap, independent films - Manos: The Hands of Fate.

  Creep Manos  O 12  Chi   U-571 
Noon at Midnight Yes No No No No
Audio Not Synchronized Yes No No No No
Moving Lips are Mute Yes No No No No
One Voice for Many People No Yes No No No
Has "Hootenanny" Yes No No Yes Yes
Uses Stock Footage Yes No No No No
Wanton Re-Use of Scenery Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Costumed Monster(s) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Tacky Costume(s) Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Stale Plot Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Lack of Any Plot Twist No Yes No Yes Yes
Bad acting Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Gold pants, Negligees, etc. Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Captive Females Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Deformed People No Yes Yes Yes No
Cops Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Army Yes No No No Yes
Gunfire Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Filmed Outside of a Studio Yes Yes No No No
Continuity Issues No No Yes Yes Yes
Twisted History Included No No Yes Yes Yes
Smug No No Yes Yes Yes
Audience Pandering No No Yes Yes Yes
Cavalcade of Tripe No No Yes Yes Yes
Amoral Ending (Good loses)  No Yes Yes Yes No
Physics is 4 Phools Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Pedestrian Dark and Folklore (CGI)   No No Yes Yes Yes
Lover's Lane Yes Yes No Yes No
Unable to laugh at it No No Yes Yes Yes
In color No Yes Yes Yes Yes
How 'bout dem Nazis No No Yes No Yes
How 'bout dem Hillbillies No Yes No Yes No
Zombie Flesh Eaters No No No No No
Number of Yes Answers 18 17 20 24 18

I hate to say it, but by a score of 18 to 17, The Creeping Terror has more against it than does Manos. It would've been Manos as the clear winner if Creeping hadn't lost its audio track and then needed to use a narrator.

I expected Chicago to come in at the bottom. But the fact that U-571 is no worse than Creeping surprises me.

If there had been any singing at all in Manos, I would've called the "Hootenanny" category a draw since you can't expect any movie, except Creeping, to actually have a character say the words "having a hootenanny." Chicago is one big hootenanny.

The plot twist in Creeping was the fact the monsters were really robots on a human sampling mission and due to human failure, the collected data was transmitted back into space. Not much of a twist but the best that Manos could come up with was goatboy wanting to fondle Manos' brides. Manos gets the vote.

I'm stretching the "Female Captives" for Creeping. But, considering how women are eaten by the monsters head first just get gratuitous thrashing leg shots and the whole Community Center shindig, I decided that "Captives" applies.

The black and white category is an odd one. If a movie is filmed in black and white, the pain experienced as a result of a lot of cheesy special effects is mitigated. So, color is worse.

We have a new loser! Good dumpster diving! Now take a deep breath and see if you can find They Saved Hitler's Brain (the main reason for the "How 'bout dem Nazis" item) on your next visit in the barrel.


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