The Creeping Terror/Review
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
This film is a very important addition to anyone who is studying the history of Grindhouse films with productions that go wrong. Not only is it a Trash Classic that should be seen at least once, but the history surrounding it is really a chapter or a very interesting Fun Facts section in itself filled with "Investors" who got to appear in the film, a monster suit that had to be replaced, a narrator to make up for a lack of a sound reel, lawsuits, some interesting mix ups in the credits, and even debates about almost everything that went on. It's time once again to look at the film which has caused so much interest as the recent official DVD release through the second volume of Drive-In Cult Classics, including notes by Brain Albright, restores this film in all of it's jaw-dropping power.
The plot is simple - A spaceship with gear that can not be dented lands on the earth containing two monsters who attack people, especially those getting very friendly in cars and at parties, attracts the attention of the local police, a few locals including one lead played by the Director/Star/Co-Producer Arthur N. White playing as Arthur Nelson and a Scientist played by William Thourlby, and The Army until the creeping terrors of the title meet their deaths, one by hand grenade and the other by being tapped on the side by a car...that's right, a car...with the human casualties also including some members of The Army being ran over by one of the monsters (Some may say possibly by a "third monster") and the scientist who met his tragedy at the end. This translates in real life to this - a huge bulky prop that makes Plan 9 From Outer Space's ships look like brilliant works of art is placed in the woods unleashing two huge creeping human-driven patchwork monster suits with funny eyes and an "interesting mouth" attached at the front that attack people in cars or at dance parties and then meeting their "deaths." When it all out together in this film, though, it really stand out as an experience in all of the wrong but right ways as the messed up monster is featured in a good amount of this film rather than just a few places and almost every character is laughable or a stereotype played to the extreme with the narration added on adding to the film wreck factor in a major way.
The thing that must be said about this film is that while it is a definition of unbelievably stupid and ultra-messed up right down to the fact that the lack of a sound tape for most of it's scenes resulted in getting a narrator, it's not boring, the ultimate mistake in film. Many Monster films from The 50's and Early 60's have a tendency to really drag things out, as if the cost cutting bickering or yapping away in one room or one setting could make for entertainment (among those who committed that infamously would include people like Jerry Warren), but even if the Production was messed-up with people actually paying to be in this film (as "Investors") and reports of The Monster's creator pulling the monster out of the production due to another mess-up, one has to admit that for all of the scheming behind the scenes, Arthur N. White, or possibly Thourlby through his reported wrapping up of the film, knew to keep the pace driving with Robert Silliphant's story. It may be from an attitude of just throwing it all up on the screen, but the patchwork monster, titillation, stupid characters, and even catchy music collide in a very unique way, especially when there's not many films that feature slight teasing when being eaten up by the monster or dance parties that suddenly have a couple of fights break out when instead they should be just getting out of the hall when usually it would be just a mad rush for the exit in any common Monster Mash.
After the film was unleashed, thanks to Co-Star Thourlby (who also reportedly helped fund it) saving what was made of the film and finishing it up, it slowly created it's reputation through the years mainly through Late Night TV showings and more importantly creating a sensation with Cult Film fans who have created enough interest for the story behind the film to be told. There are some who have even detailed the appearances of what some would call the real stars of this, the two monsters, one created after the original creation "left" with some claiming believably in a third being used for one of the final scenes - "Clamhead" has some classic exterior scenes, but it's "Shovelhead," the second creation, who may get the most fans for the attack at the party. The Dance Party itself is a wonder of mixed-up film making, placing scenes of various people dancing without any matching of the rhythm or thinking about visual continuity, and is a highlight, although the Hootenanny that winds up with the Folk Singer trying to battle the monster with a guitar is also a classic.
The film is filled with Grindhouse film history that will be interesting. Jack King, who played the grandfather of Bobby from the fishing trip that went bad and will be known in Film History as the old man who yells out "Bobby!" many times, will be a familiar face to Something Weird Video fans as he appeared in films like The Toy Box, I Need More, and the just as infamous One Million AC/DC while screenwriter Silliphant went on to whip up the stories for The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies and The Beach Girls and the Monster and Cinematographer Andres Janczak went on to The Undertaker and His Pals. There are several more, but what's really left to say is that this is one of the more messed-up moments in Early 60's Grindhouse film history that deserves a look.
Review by Screen13