ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) memoir writer for Story Terrace in London. You can read more of her film, books and music reviews at https://www.jennuptonwriter.com and on her blog https://womanycom.wordpress.com.
For years I searched for the worst movie ever made. I’ve dove deep. So deep, that time and experience have made me realize there is no single title that unequivocally holds that title. Crap is in the eye of the beholder. Nevertheless, The Creeping Terror (1964) is definitely in the running. It is bad in just about every way imaginable.
Is it the good kind of bad? The kind where you can slam back a few shots and laugh harder than at any Rob Schneider movie ever made? Yes. Yes, it is. For even more laughs, watch the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version. The segment where Mike plays the incredibly monotonous jazz music from the film’s dance hall scene on his sweet new sound system is one of the best things to come out of that show’s sixth season. I digress.
The Creeping Terror’s story concerns a newlywed law man named Martin played by the writer and director Vic Savage. On the way back from their honeymoon, Martin and his new bride Brett (Shannon O’Neil) stumble upon his Uncle – the town sheriff – investigating a crashed alien spacecraft that looks remarkably like a camper under a tarp. It isn’t long before the monsters inside (one actually) ravage the community and start eating people left and right. It especially likes the ladies, whose bodies are pulled in head first, leaving nothing but a pair of sexy legs sticking out.
They call a scientist named Dr. Bradford (William Thourlby) and the group attempts to capture the monster to no avail. We later find out that the animals were engineered as mobile laboratories to consume and analyze human beings and send the data back to their masters. The military comes in and blows it up with a grenade. Just after transmitting the data into space, the monsters’ craft explodes. Will the aliens launch a full-scale invasion? Who knows? Who cares?
Savage’s story is far more interesting than the movie he made as chronicled in the docudrama The Creep Behind the Camera (2014.) A womanizing, physically abusive con-man with mob ties, it’s never really clear whether Savage thought he was making a good movie or if the whole thing was just a hustle to fleece investors. Given that Mr. Savage disappeared after making the movie, the latter seems to be the most likely scenario.
Technically, the film is inept. The camera work is shoddy and screen direction is minimal. What we’re left with a disjointed series of shots of people looking the wrong way at something that isn’t there sewn together by a poorly dubbed narration that tries to cover up the fact that the soundtrack was either lost or never recorded in the first place. It makes Plan Nine from Outer Space look like a masterpiece by comparison.
The design of the creature is odd, to say the least. It’s basically a giant carpet with a head stuck on. It has flexible tubing resembling dreadlocks with eyeballs on the ends for hair (which jiggle when the monster creeps) and another pair of weirdly cute button eyes on its “face.” The remaining props and sets are no better. The inside of the spacecraft is clearly a power station. The army transport vehicle is a farmer’s truck with wood paneling on the rear and the newlywed’s shabbily furnished apartment is…Vic Savage’s shabbily furnished apartment.
It may sound like I’m recommending people not watch this film. Quite the contrary. The riveting fishing scene with Bobby and Grandpa is so hilariously bad, it must be seen to be believed. In it, a young boy wanders away from his extremely round-bodied be-spectacled Grandpa fishing by a river. After a little while, Grandpa – who is wearing pants pulled up to his nipples – wanders around aimlessly yelling “Bobby! Bobby!” hoarsely for a good long while before being eaten. All while Bobby obliviously chases lizards and plays with a stick nearby. Randomly, and when I least expected it, I once received a link to this scene as a text from a friend in Los Angeles at 3am with only the word “Bobby!” as descriptor. A scene that master riffer Crow T. Robot referred to as “a portrayal of deep, clinical depression.” No matter how many times I see this scene (even without the riffs,) it never fails to crack me up.
If you’re the kind of person who loves bad movies, then go for it. If not, it’s probably best to avoid this one. To jump straight to the Bobby scene, watch below. You’ll be glad you did.