Movie Review: “The Creeps”

  The 1997 film The Creeps was written by Benjamin Carr (not that Benjamin Carr, … but the screenwriter of our last Full Moon Feature film Head of the Family) and directed by Full Moon maestro Charles Band.

   I want to preface my intent early on for what I hope to discover from F.M.M.M (or F Triple-M, as the cool kids call it). As much fun as it is to harp on Full Moon’s series’ like the Evil Bong series, it isn’t really my intent. This isn’t to say I won’t eventually harp on series’ like Evil Bong, but that my purpose is to mine the Full Moon archives in-search for the best of the best. The diamonds in the rough, so-to-speak. That said, most of the films I review will be films I’m revisiting, ones I remembered fondly and want to articulate my thoughts on. I’m not looking to bash, so much as celebrate and recall them.

   The Creeps is a peculiar film, which is what plays best in Full Moon’s wheelhouse. I believe there’s a fine-line between good absurdity and bad absurdity. An example of good absurdity would be Swiss Army Man, a film about a corpse that is used as a survival tool. An example of bad absurdity would be Sharknado, a film about a tornado with sharks in it. Both films incite the same “What?” reaction, but when you peel back the surface-level eccentricity, you’re able to see whether a film is outlandish for the sake of it, or if that film may have something fun or unique to say beyond that. The Creeps lands somewhere in the middle, because I think it’s an interesting, albeit very b-movie idea.

   The Creeps follows a woman named Anna Quarrels, portrayed by Rhonda Griffin, who works at a library housing rare books, which includes Mary Shelley’s original manuscript for Frankenstein. She’s distraught, however, when she finds the manuscript has been stolen by a man who visited the library and hires a private-investigator to try and find him. The investigator, played by Justin Lauer, is a far cry from Sherlock Holmes, however, paying the bills as the manager for a movie-rental store (which allows many references to other Full Moon movies to ensue, including last Monday’s Head of the Family). The film, thereafter, takes a drastic, science-fiction turn akin to Monster Squad, that sees our book thief, a mad scientist named Winston Berber use the original manuscripts to bring the classic monster characters to life! Characters like DraculaThe Mummy, and Frankenstein, all brought to life, albeit in a smaller way than expected (they’re very short).

   This in itself might sound like an immediate turnoff. However, the makeup design for The Creeps are nicely crafted and actor Phil Fondacaro (who is seen in a lot of Full Moon Features) as Dracula delivers a solid performance as the Bram Stoker character. As a story, the film plays out like a cross between the Goosebumps film (where R.L. Stine’s creatures run wild) and, as said, Monster Squad (for its comedic inclusion of classic Universal Monsters). The film does expect you to gawk at the audacity of little people donning the classic toilet-paper and cloaks, but it doesn’t do so in a tasteless fashion. It acknowledges the Monsters aren’t as threatening when they’re half the size of their former selves, but it isn’t a string of short jokes, casual dwarfism, or indignities about being a little person. They acknowledge it on occasion, but, other-wise, their victims play it straight and treat them as a threat. I’d call it a light-heart quirk brought to the film before I’d call it anything mean-spirited.

   The music isn’t worked by Richard Band, instead, Carl Dente takes the reins and does thematic justice to the film. It maintains a distinct Full Moon sound, and coupled in with the set-design and lighting, when everything’s set in-motion, it makes for a charming riff on the Universal Monster series.

   The acting in The Creeps is par for the course, except Fondacaro’s turn, and the main-characters are, of course, goofy, but worse, inconsistent. One second, our main female protagonist is lovable and kind, the next, the claws come out, as though she is switching from one archetype to another.

   It also simply doesn’t do a whole with its concept beyond its own superficial novelty, like many of Full Moon’s productions, it’s a film I think could potentially have amounted to a better film. Luckily, it’s run-time which barely sees over an hour, allows it to coast on its absurdity and charm, but it would have been nice to have had more time spent on the Monsters wreaking havoc. The resolution feels suitably cheesy and, perhaps even, warmly sentimental for a Full Moon film, but, otherwise, anticlimactic.

   Overall, I dug The Creeps for what it was – a fun, silly b-movie about shrunken Monster Movie characters running around. I would call it slightly inferior to our last film Head of the Family, but I find enjoyment in both for similar reasons – a fun idea with mixed results. Full Moon isn’t exactly what it was, but, in a return-to-form, a The Creeps 2 could be enjoyable.

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