Tuesday, March 27, 2012

CREATURE

Last year, director Fred M. Andrews' supernatural monster flick, the unfortunately generically-titled CREATURE (2011), made entertainment news headlines for being one of the biggest box office bombs in film history. Released theatrically in September on over 1500 screens, the movie grossed less than $327 thousand dollars. It was also pretty much universally panned by critics and filmgoers.

So - big surprise - I bought it when it came out on DVD last week... and I liked it.

A group of young people including a Navy SEAL named Niles (Mehcad Brooks, TRUE BLOOD) and his girlfriend, are on their way to party in New Orleans. They stop for beer and snacks at a small Louisiana roadside store, where the proprietor, Chopper (Sid Haig, THE DEVIL'S REJECTS, JASON OF STAR COMMAND) tells them about a local, legendary swamp monster called "Lockjaw." The kids set up camp that night in the swamp, and it isn't long before they come to realize that the half-man/half-alligator monster is no mere myth...

CREATURE is, actually, a pretty nifty little low-budget horror, with a twisty, nasty, slightly kinky screenplay by director Morse and Tracy Andrews, slick photography and editing, a terrific man-in-suit monster, no obvious, obnoxious CGI, and plenty of female nudity. Unlike most genre flicks these days, CREATURE plays out like a genuine, old fashioned exploitation flick, rather than a made-for-cable, Saturday-night, inoffensive time waster. In fact, CREATURE would have been right at home on a 70s drive-in movie screen - and I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why it's been so viciously savaged by critics and so-called horror fans.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think it's a great movie. It has its problems. The pace could be a little snappier, and the filmmakers are surprisingly shy about splashing around the red stuff - but I thought it was an honest attempt to do something a little more imaginative than your usual modern monster mash, and I'll also admit that they scored a lot of points with me by using practical effects (rubber suit!) rather than a cartoon CGI beastie.

Arc Entertainment brings CREATURE to DVD with a flawless, crystal-clear, 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and Dolby 5.1 Stereo. The only bonus features are three behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Bearing well in mind that I'm in the definite minority here, I recommend that horror fans give CREATURE a try on DVD. Many of the negative reviews online seem to be more about how the movie wasn't "worthy" of a theatrical release. Maybe watching it on TV at home will keep expectations at a reasonable level. Me, I enjoyed it. I thought it was fun, creepy and even disturbing at times - all good things in a B-horror film.

BUYCreature