Tuesday, March 7, 2017

THE CREEPS (1997) (Blu-ray Review)


Label: Full Moon Entertainment
Region Code: Region-FREE
Rating: PG-13
Duration: 75 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0, Dolby Digital 5.1 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: Charles Band
Cast: Rhonda Griffin, Justin Lauer, Bill Moynihan, Kristin Norton, Jon Simanton, Joe Smith, Phil Fondacaro, Thomas Wellington 

Ahhh, more late 90's Full Moon cheese dripping its way onto Blu-ray, this time we have a slice of dwarfsploiltation directed by Charles Band (Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn). We begin with a cute young woman named Anna Quarrels (Rhonda Griffin), a librarian at the rare books annex of the local library, approached by a weird portly man named Dr. Winston Berber (Bill Moynihan) who is there masquerading as someone he's not to study the original handwritten manuscript of Mary Shelley's original "Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus". His credentials check out and she let's him in to view the rare tome, but the unscrupulous Berber switches the manuscript with a fake and steals away the original for his own nefarious purposes. 

After Berber leaves she discovers the theft, but does not report it to her boss, Miss Christina (Kristin Norton), a lesbian who lusts after innocent Anne on a daily basis, whom with her lanky build and Cheshire smile she sort of reminded me of a young Mary Woronov (Sugar Cookies). Fearing she will lose her job Anne instead contacts a private detective whose day job is clerking at a local VHS rental store, where of course Full Moon titles are in high-demand.

The detective is able to finger point who the thief is, but is unable to track down the culprit's whereabouts. No matter, Berber soon enough arrives at the library a few days later, not realizing that Anne is on to his theft. He's there to pilfer a coveted first edition of Bram Stoker's "Dracula", and when Anne confronts the stammering thief he kidnaps her, taking her back to his laboratory. So, what's this book-napper up to? He has invented a Archetype Inducer, a contraption that will allow him to 'transform mythic, cultural and literary archetypes into living entities', of course! 

Berber has developed a way to bring the literary creations Dracula, The Mummy, Wolfman and Frankenstein's Monster from the pages of horror fiction into the realm of reality, somehow involving the original books, which is never explained. His plan also involves sacrificing the virginal librarian to bring the monsters to life, however, during the involved process, which involves Berber's stammering his way through a monologue and fiddling with his beakers and gadgets, Anne escapes with the help of David. However, Berber's mad science experiment is already underway and when his creations emerge from their test tubes, but there's a hiccup, they're only pint-sized versions of their literary counterparts - and there you have it, miniature Universal monsters, how's that for a whacky high concept idea? All told be have 3 foot versions of The Mummy (Joe Smith), Frankenstein's monster (Thomas Wellington), the Wolfman (Jon Simanton), and the red-eyed Dracula (Phil Fondacaro, Ghoulies)

Unfortunately the movie is a bit of a wreck, the acting is uniformly terrible, with the exception of the always fun Phil Fondacaro, it's amateur hour all show long. Maybe the worst of them all is the stammering Moynihan as Berber, it's been a long time since I've seen acting that bad. Star Rhonda Griffin is not much better, most everyone here is sub-Troma bad, so painful, though I love it when she threatens the book thief with "homosexual gang rape" in jail, haha. What the movie lacks in budget and thespian skill is only made worse by the teen-humor that abounds, the movie is so damn goofy, along the lines of Head of the Family (1996) but the acting is a rung lower this time around, if you can believe that.  

I liked the make-up effects from fx creator Greg Bartalos (From Beyond) , the monsters look pretty decent, low-budget, but not too bad. The only one to have a speaking part is Phil Fondacaro as Dracula, with a nod to Christopher Lee's take on the vampire with eerie bloodshot eyes. Fondacaro turns in a good performance, by several measures the most accomplished actor on the set, but the character is also poorly written and goofy, too.
Audio/Video: The Creeps (1997) bdebuts on Blu-ray from Full Moon in 1080p HD framed in the widescreen scope aspect ratio (2.35:1). Advertised as being culled from the original 35mm negative the image appears a bit on the dark side to me, colors are muted, and the brightness looks turned down a bit much. The source also show numerous instances of dirt, debris and white speckling, detail is lacking and the depth and clarity are non-existent, it's a pretty thick looking image.  Audio on the disc includes both Dolby Digital 2.0 and surround 5.1, as with other Full Moon Blu-ray releases they'e opted for no lossless audio or subtitles.  

Extras on the disc include 15-minutes of Full Moon trailers and a 23-minute vintage Videozone behind-the-scenes featurette. The PQ leave  A LOT to be desired, this looks better than the previously issues DVD releases, but not by much. 

Special Features:  
- Original Full Moon Trailers: Ravenwolf Towers (2 min), Head of the Family (2 min), Killjoy's Psycho Circus (2 min), Puppet Master 2 (2 min), Puppet Master 3 (2 min), Trancers 2 (3 min), Specters (2 min) 
- Vintage THE CREEPS Videozone behind-the-scenes featurette (24 min) 

As bad as the acting is, and as poorly written as the story turns out to be, I did have some fun with this monster mash-up, mostly reveling in how bad it is. The stuff I enjoyed was a lot of Miss Christina (Norton) stuff, who winds up masturabting to a first edition of Jane Eyre at the library, then kidnapped by the mini-monsters, baring her breasts and inexplicably being turned into an operatic Valkyrie by the Archetype Inducer, a lot of goofiness going on here. The finale is a thing of mind melting stupidity, it all just sort of falls apart, but if you're a fan of bad movies... 2/5