The Creeping Terror
The Creeping Terror
#36 on IMDb bottom 100
Directed by Vic Savage
Produced by Vic Savage
Written by Robert Silliphant Narrated by Larry Burrell Starring Vic Savage
Music by Frederick Kopp Cinematography Andrew Janczak Editing by Vic Savage
Distributed by Crown International Television Release date(s) 1964 Running time 75 min Country USA Language English
The Creeping Terror (also known as The Crawling Monster and Dangerous Charter) is a 1964 horror/science fiction film, in which a slug-like monster terrorizes an American town after escaping from a crashed spaceship. The Creeping Terror is widely considered to have been one of the worst films of all time, and in September 1994, the film was the subject of the satirical television series Mystery Science Theater 3000.
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.
The Creeping Terror was directed, produced, and edited by Vic Savage under the alias A.J. Nelson. Although Robert Silliphant is the credited writer, the original story was written by his younger brother, Allan Silliphant, who went on to produce, write and direct the 3-D adult feature film The Stewardesses (1969), the only micro-budget film of the 1960s or 70s to become the #1 film on the weekly Variety box-office chart (it finally grossed over $140,000,000 in 2011 U.S. dollars).
Silliphant's half-brother, Stirling, was already a very successful writer at the time, having already written extensively for TV shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents co-created Naked City and Route 66. He would go on to write screenplays for films like In the Heat of the Night, The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno among about 40 others. Allan Silliphant was therefore famous by association, a fact used by Savage to draw in potential investors. The younger Silliphant brother had no idea that the family name was being used to influence potential investors. Savage reportedly offered many of the investors a small part in the film for a few hundred dollars each, in exchange for a part of the profits. However, just before the film's release, Savage was sued repeatedly, even possibly facing indictment on charges of fraud, and vanished. He was apparently never heard from again in the context of film production, and reportedly died of liver failure in 1975, aged 41.
Savage paid Allan Silliphant $1500, according to comments by Silliphant when interviewed for "Creep", although way less was implied by a book about "bad movies", Forthwith,22 year old Silliphant returned in three days with the original nine-page film treatment that he had "made up" face to face with Savage, based only on a vague earlier story idea. Later in the production, there was conflict between writer and director, with Silliphant growing frustrated that Savage did not seem to share his vision that the story was "supposed" to be over the top. Furthermore, instead of shooting at scenic Lake Tahoe, as Silliphant had intended, a muddy pond at Spahn Ranch had to do. The assistant director was Randy Starr, who later achieved notoriety by providing Charles Manson with the gun used in the Sharon Tate murders. Silliphant saw that the direction the film was taking would harm his family especially half-brother Stirling Silliphant's reputation, rather than enhance it, so he bowed out after the studio scenes were done. The production went on as a week-end affair for several more months, with Savage raising the money by selling small parts to star-struck plumbers etc. One story says Savage checked into a motel with a silent picture-only Moviola to do a quick assembly of the film.
A point concerning the narration, about which the robots in the MST3K episode joke, is that the narrator speaks over much of the dialog in the film while long bouts devoid of dialog have no narration (similar in style to many of the educational films of the '50s and '60s). Reportedly the original sound tracks were lost (one suggestion is that they literally fell into Lake Tahoe, which is almost certainly wrong since the movie was not filmed there), although William Thourlby has said that the film was shot without sound as a cost savings measure, and that dubbing was to have taken place after production. Therefore, there is only a limited amount of dialog in the film, because Savage supposedly shot scenes without professional regard to the sound quality, or even transferring it properly to 35 mm mag stock. Having insufficient money to pay for basic sound transfers, he finally hired a local radio news reader to narrate the entire movie in post-production.
A comprehensive look at the making of The Creeping Terror will be found in the feature film CREEP!, due for release sometime in 2012. CREEP! explores the life of the enigmatic Arthur White (aka AJ Nelson aka Vic Savage) through dramatized re-enactments and filmed interviews with surviving members of the production of The Creeping Terror (including Allan Silliphant and William Thourlby). Look for complete information at www.creepfilm.com
There were two creatures, one trapped in the spaceship, and one that slipped into the lake. Unlike all previous cinema "space aliens", these aliens were essentially giant, hermaphroditic slugs that just wanted to swallow and digest prey. The first creature, which Silliphant designed with Jon Lackey, was lost to the production (possibly stolen), and Savage had to recreate the creature without professional help. The dry-carpet version, with shaggy feet visible underneath, was the best that Savage could pull together.
The monster in the film somewhat resembles a rug or thick blanket, hence has been called the "carpet monster". The back half of the monster is rather quilt-like, and obviously has several extras under it. The front half of the monster is a man in a bulky suit, with the monster's mouth being a hole located between the knees of the puppeteer in front. The monster is barely mobile, moving at a slow crawl, and in some scenes the covered feet of the actors are visible. The creature had no real way to grab onto its victims, meaning that the people who get eaten in the course of the film appear to be crawling inside its mouth of their own volition.
- ^ The Creeping Terror at the Internet Movie Database
- ^ Medved, Harry and Michael (1986). Son of Golden Turkey Awards. New York: Random House/Villard Books. ISBN 0-394-74341-5. p. 197.
- ^ "Randy Starr". CharlieManson.Com. http://www.charliemanson.com/starr-1.htm. Retrieved 2010-03-08.
- ^ Medved, Son of Golden Turkey Awards, p. 198.
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