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WRITTER REVIEW: The Creep Behind the Camera

Ed Wood's Plan Nine From Outer Space is often regarded as the worst film ever made. But cult film fans know better. Sure Plan Nine stinks, but it was the vision of Ed Wood, and his perseverance that give his films a certain charm that makes them endure, in spite of having mediocre performances, convoluted stories, a library of stock footage and special effects that rival the science projects of children.

It is Wood's endearing personality that shines through in his work that makes him such a beloved cult figure, and the subject of Tim Burton's 1994 Hollywood bio-pic Ed Wood.

But on the other side of the stink meter is a film that is so terrible that it lacks any redeeming qualities and is difficult to watch – even falling short of being “so bad that's it's good”. This film is The Creeping Terror, about a space alien slug monster that lands at Lake Tahoe. It then terrorizes and devours the local townsfolk before the United States Army enter the picture to bring it's reign of terror to an end.

But I'm not here to talk about Ed Wood or The Creeping Terror. I'm here to share with you The Creep Behind The Camera, the docu-drama chronicling the production and filming of The Creeping Terror.

Similar to Ed Wood, this story follows the director of The Creeping Terror, Arthur Nelson White. Or as he preferred others to call him, Vic Savage.

As The Creep unfolds, it tells two stories. The first being about a doomed production forced to make ends meet. The other is about a nobody who has big ambitions about being a Hollywood success, and who is willing to con, steal, and ruin the lives of others in order to get there.

During the production, hilarious stories are told of ineptitude, such as; the rubber alien monster being stolen from the set – forcing Vic to build a replacement overnight in his backyard. Unfortunately, Vic's monster is the one seen in the film. Also, rather than filming at the beautiful Lake Tahoe, where the film is set, Vic instead chose a location owned by the Manson Family (before the murder of Sharon Tate) that features an adorable muddy pond. All of the good intentions in the world couldn't have fixed The Creeping Terror. These portions of The Creep feel quite a bit like Ed Wood.

The portions that focus more on Vic, expose how much of a despicable human being he was to his wife, his kids, and virtually everyone he knew. He was pill popping alcoholic who beat his wife and who would cheat on her with any skirt that wondered his way. During the course of filming The Creeping Terror, his life unravelled. He was strung out, penniless and resorted to making kiddie porn to pay off debtors.

My two criticisms of The Creep are that the dramatizations overtake the film and make it feel slow, and the other is that the humor of the film and the dark nature of Vic, often clash. I'm sure both are depicted accurately, but the tone of the film shifts back and forth too often. It left me feeling bad about enjoying the funny parts and sometimes unable to take the dark and abusive parts seriously.

But over all the film was very informative – educating me about a filmmaker who I think more people should know about. The Creep Behind the Camera won't make The Creeping Terror any better, but it will put things into prescriptive. The Creep is a dark companion to Ed Wood, and if you haven't yet, you should check out both.

At the time of this article, The Creep Behind the Camera is available on Shudder, Amazon and YouTube.


★ ★ ★



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