The Creeping Terror - a review
I remember it well. It was the early 80's and my father was away to a conference in America for a month. During that time there was a horror show on the (now discontinued) commercial channel Sky Channel called Deadly Earnest's Horror show. Every week the amiable (g)host Ernest showed a particularly funny 60's sci-fi/horror movie, usually with an extremely high B-flick level. I used to watch these movies together with my mom seeing as my dad wasn't around and the content of the movies was so B that they weren't really scary, not even to a fourteen year old. Actually the host of the show was probably scarier than the movies, which included movies like the Quartermass experiments, classic Hammerhouse of Horror movies starring the uncomparable Vincent Price and the like.
One of these movies has stayed with me forever. It is perhaps the ultimate B-movie of all times and it's called The Creeping Terror (imdb entry).
Basically The Creeping Terror is about a monster from outer space that can probably best be described as a walking carpet that eats people.
For years I have tried to find this movie so that I could watch it again to see how it stacks up against my recollection.
Last week I finally found it in the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (MST3K) series. This series is dedicated to bringing the worst movies of all time to glorious DVD for your homescreen viewing pleasure. The DVD's contain the original movie on one side and the other side of the disc contains the same movie but with snide comments and sometimes humorous remarks or dialog added. The comments are sometimes funny but really, a picture like this doesn't need this treatment. On with the movie….
The story starts when a young couple is driving home after their honeymoon. A spacecraft crashes nearby. The young man appears to be the deputy sherrif and on the way home they meet the sherrif who is on his way to check out a crashed plane (or so he thinks). It quickly transpires that the plane is not a plane but in fact a spacecraft of extra-terrestrial origin.
We can tell that the spacecraft is extremely high tech because it has loads of analog switches and dials.
Meanwhile the monster has left the spacecraft and is proceeding to eat some people. The monster appears to have a predeliction for young lovers making out. Despite the monster moving at about half a mile an hour people seem helpless to escape. Here are some screenshots of the first victim, a woman who at first tries to hold of the monster but fails miserably. The monster is so crap that she actually has to creep inside the monster to give the appearance that it eats her, screaming hysterically all the way until the last leg has disappeared. This scene is fairly typical of the eating scenes.
Meanwhile the sherrif is eaten by a second monster that is still inside the spacecraft, despite this monster being restrained! The deputy sherrif quickly realises that he's way out of his depth and sends for the military (more on that later). The president is informed and sends a scientist to take charge. I should probably mention that the movie doesn't contain a lot of dialog, so as not to tax the acting skills of the people in it, but is narrated sporadically. Here's the young handsome scientist meeting the deputy sherrif (now promoted), his young wife and a military guy.
The first monster now has the taste for human flesh and proceeds to eat a boy called Timmy and his rotund grandfather. It is still not satisfied and stalks up to a picnicking party. Luckily this party contains someone with an acoustic guitar who stands up to the monster.
As can be expected this last stand is pretty futile and the entire party is eaten with the exception of the guitar which is left broken as a mute witness to the horror.
Meanwhile there's a ball going on. We see quite a lot of this ball while the monster is making his way there, slooooowly.
The ball is probably meant as metafor for the debauchery of young people and contains a fight, a drunk person and people shaking their booty. Of course we know that this merriment will soon pass to make way for unspeakable terror!
When the monster enters the party all the people mill to a corner in the room where they can't escape and then proceed to get eaten.
It is at this point that I should probably say that most of the men in this movie are Real Hero's™ who hide behind their girlfriends and dutifully wait for them to be eaten before being eaten themselves. Here's a screenshot of a man actually pushing his girlfriend towards the monster so she can be eaten. Shortly after he too is eaten as he's waited patiently for the monster to finish. Remember: politeness costs nothing.
After the visit to the ball we zoom to lover's lane where some people are making out in cars. The narrator tells us that the people who will manage to escape will never visit this place again. The monster of course is just starting to work up his appetite. Here is a screenshot showing a closeup of the top of the monster's head with some sort of tubing representing his optical tentacles as he eats the two people inside. The screenshot below that show the carpet-like quality of the monster well as he dismounts the car.
By now the soldiers have noticed that loads of people are disappearing and suspect that there is still a monster loose. The scientist has discovered that the monster that's left in the spacecraft is actually a sort of machine (which explains the tubes that function as the sensory apparatus). The soldiers convene on lover's lane and group together to attack the monster.
The soldiers stay close together so the monster can rush them (at half a mile an hour) after being temporarily fazed by the bullets they shoot. Here they are just before being crushed.
After the demise of the soldiers the sergeant in charge has had enough of this madness and kills the monster with a grenade, despite the scientist wanting the monster captured alive. The scientist rushes back to the spacecraft where the second monster escapes from it's shackles and mortally wounds him before being dispatched by the young deputy sheriff who drives his car into the side of the monster.
The scientist now realises that the monsters are machines sent to sample the people of earth for edibility. Because of the demise of both monsters the spaceship's transmitter kicks in to send details about earthpeople's slow-wittedness and lack of natural survival instinct back home. The young deputy sheriff tries to prevent this by trying to destroy the super tough alloys of the spacecraft.
He first tries to do this with the butt of his pistol and then proceeds to rip out a support beam and hitting the dashboard with that. He is unsuccessful, as the spaceship is made of super tough alloys of unknown composition.
After the transmitter has finished he walks dejectedly outside where his young wife is cradling the crispy scientist to her bosom.
The scientist delivers a message of doom about the future of humanity but tries to instill some hope by stating that the aliens are probably from the far end of the galaxy and that their civilization may have died out or that humanity may have developed better defensive systems by the time they do arrive.
Conclusion: The MST3K edition is region 1 encoded and has a fairly good quality for a movie this old. The movie lacks subtitles, is presented in 4:3 format with english dialog and the DVD box contains three other films of a non sci-fi nature so if all you're interested in is this movie the price may be a bit steep but seeing as this is a seminal classic in the genre you can hardly go wrong. The alternative MST3K version that includes comments and comedic interludes is a bit of a drag to sit through as the interludes are extremely boring. Some of the comments are pretty funny, but if you see this with a like-minded friend you'll probably make better comments yourself.
Executive summary: This is one of the best 1960's B-movies that exist. You owe it to yourself to see this movie in all it's glorious black and white goodness, complete with people so stupid they stand around waiting to be eaten.
You will never doubt the creepiness of carpets again!