Sunday, September 5, 2010

DVD Review: Creature (1985)


“It’s been sleeping peacefully on a moon of Saturn for 2000 centuries …until now!”

RUN TIME: 97 Min.
DIRECTOR: William Malone
CAST: Klaus Kinski, Syan Ivar, Robert Jaffe, Lyman Ward, Wendy Schaal

SYNOPSIS: A group of American scientists are on an archaeology mission to Titan, one of Jupiter’s moons to examine ancient artifacts from an alien civilization. Once there they discover their German counterparts are already on scene. After a botched landing attempt the crew set out to seek assistance from the German explorers. However, a deadly creature is on the loose, killing off the crew one by one.

THE FILM: At 37 years of age I’ve somehow have managed to miss out on the numerous ALIEN (1979) rip-offs. GALAXY OF TERROR (1981), INSEMINOID (1981), and CREATURE (1985), just to name a few. I figured it was time to delve into at least one, so I popped Creature into the DVD player, settled in, and promptly fell asleep …twice. This film comes to us from the director of such lesser genre fare as FEARDOT.COM (2002) and the HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1999), and before these extremely underwhelming entries came 1985’s terrible ALIEN cash-in CREATURE.

On a remote and desolate planet a crew arrives to establish communications with a ship they’ve lost contact with. It features a strong female heroine, a douchebag team-leader, and a parasitic alien stalking the doomed crew picking them off one by one, sound familiar? You got it – ALIEN! Not merely content to rip-off ALIEN the film also borrows elements from John Carpenter’s THE THING (1982). If you’re gonna steal, steal from the best, right?
Well, they steal some ideas, but the inspiration just isn’t here, man. This was a chore to sit through, totally mind-numbingly, terrible. This is a very unoriginal and derivative sci-fi thriller, a complete low-rent cash-in, like what Asylum Films does only not as good.

Two space exploring yahoos uncover a capsule housing an alien creature on Titan. They unleash the creature while sitting atop it posing for pictures. It goes mostly downhill from here as a German and then American exploration teams arrive on planet to examine the alien ruins.

On the plus side, the gore is semi-decent for ‘85, there’s some classic soundstage atmosphere, including miniature ship models and obligatory rolling mist. The great Klaus Kinski (AGGIURE: THE WRATH OF GOD) appears as Hans Rudy Hofner, the only surviving member of the German crew, in a brief and creepy appearance. Seeing Kinski in this b-movie space thriller was unexpected and odd but I loved it, probably the single best thing about the film. We also get Lyman Ward (Ferris’s dad from FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF) as David Perkins, and he’s really quite terrible, but it was a kick seeing him. I really found the film rather a bore, but there are some fun times to be had for fans of schlocky films. For instance, the master plan to defeat the creature is devised by the Ripley character, Beth (Nancy Schaal, THE ‘BURBS, the voice of AMERICAN DAD’s Francine), whom recalls “I saw a movie once, where a group of people were trapped in an ice station by a carrot from another planet”. She’s recalling THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951), and this is the plan they go with? I saw it on TV once, let’s go for it? Why not, right? The final confrontation is right out of ALIEN playbook as you’d expect. Mist is rolling, the creature is fully revealed (unfortunately, it’s super-lame), hazard lights are flashing, let the final showdown begin, yawn.

DVD: CREATURE has never received a proper DVD release as it fell into the public domain abyss shortly after its release in 1985. Theatrically Creature was displayed in 2.35:1 scope aspect ratio, this Diamond Entertainment release sees the film cropped to 1.33:1 full frame with a shitty transfer, seemingly from a fullscreen VHS source. Pretty terrible image quality, so-so audio and the special features are limited to ‘Original Graphics’ and ‘Biography’. I can’t say that the film merits a deluxe edition DVD, but lesser films have, so why not, right.

VERDICT: Even by the standards of an ALIEN rip-off this is pretty weak sauce. Not a lot to recommend here to be honest. It was a novelty seeing the venerable Klaus Kinski and its chock full o’ schlock, if you love bad movies; here you go, have at it. RATING *1/2 (1.5 out of 5 stars)