Monday, December 26, 2011

The Creeping Terror

Tonight's crappy movie is "The Creeping Terror", an alien-monster-on-the-loose pic from 1964 (IMDB). The Creeping Terror is widely considered one of the worst movies ever made, and it's famous for two things that make it stand out from the crowd of low budget creature features:
  • The creature is basically just a giant shag carpet with a few people shuffling around under it, and you can usually see their feet. Same basic idea as a Chinese festival dragon, but less convincing. It has no obvious way to eat people, so its victims have to crawl into the creature's sorta-mouth under their own power while trying to act like they're struggling.
  • Instead of normal movie dialogue, the film relies heavily on a narrator who explains what the people on screen are saying to each other. Stories and recollections vary as to why the movie turned out this way. One colorful version claims that voice work was done but the recordings were lost, possibly dropped into Lake Tahoe by accident.
Wikipedia summarizes the plot, such as it is:
A newlywed deputy, Martin Gordon (Vic Savage), encounters an alien spacecraft that has crash landed in fictional Angel County in California. A large, hairy, slug-like, omnivorous monster emerges from the side of an impacted spaceship. A second one, still tethered inside, kills a forest ranger and the sheriff (Byrd Holland) when they independently enter the craft to investigate.

Martin, now temporary sheriff, joins his wife Brett (Shannon O'Neil); Dr. Bradford (William Thourlby, the original Marlboro Man), a renowned scientist; and Col. James Caldwell, a military commander and his men to fight the creature. Meanwhile the monster stalks the countryside, devouring a girl in a bikini, picnickers at a "hootenanny", Grandpa Brown (Jack King) and his grandson while fishing, a housewife hanging the laundry, the patrons at a community dance hall, and couples in their cars at lovers' lane.

The protagonists ultimately deduce that the monsters are mindless biological-sample eaters. The bio-analysis data is microwaved back to the probe's home planet through the spaceship.

Caldwell decides that the creatures must be killed, despite Bradford's objections. He orders his men to fire at the creature, which they do while standing close to one another as it moves towards them. Their gunfire proves ineffective, and all of the troops are devoured. Paradoxically, Caldwell decides a moment later to throw a grenade, and the creature dies instantly.

At the end of the film, both creatures are destroyed, but not before the signal is sent. The dying Bradford suggests that this bodes ill for the human race, but observes that since the galaxy to which the transmission was aimed is a million light years away, the threat may not manifest for millennia.

In modern terms this ending would be an obvious setup for a sequel. Which never happened, or at least hasn't happened yet. I could see the SciFi Channel going for something like this, I mean, you'd have a badly CG'd carpet monster, a crack military team of 40-something washed-up actors, and a woman in the inevitable white tank top, and it would be filmed in Canada, or maybe Romania, and most of the movie would just be our heroes standing around arguing in a room full of computer screens. But hey.

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