October Horrorshow: Creature

This piece of shit is going to be on the internet forever. Why? Because it’s in the public domain. That means it belongs to each and every one of us. We are the stewards of this film’s preservation. Oh, lordy. It also means that if any potential viewers out there see it for rent or purchase, stop before hitting the ‘buy’ button and hit the Google machine. A free viewing is just a click away. As for myself, I saw this dog on Netflix, the streaming service proving, yet again, that its profit model dictates that a large percentage of its film content is bottom-dwelling sludge.

From 1985, Creature is an Alien clone, pure and simple. How much so? In this film, as in Alien, a mysterious life form is found on a storm-ravaged moon. As in Alien, a space vessel from earth, upon arriving, has a rough landing. There are clunky space suits. There’s a scene where the ship’s crewmembers traverse the moon’s waste while a storm rages (although, in this one, wind effects must have been beyond the means of the budget, so we are treated to flashes from a strobe light and canned thunder). As in Alien, there are little sub-creatures that attach themselves to characters. And the final reveal of the big alien shows us viewers a creature with a long sloping head and a mean disposition. Even the music mimics Jerry Goldsmith’s score from Alien for a few bars here and there. This flick is a shameless cash grab. But, so what? Life is too precious to fret about some low-rent production company (in this case, Trans World Entertainment) trying to make a buck. Good for them, I say.

According to IMDb, Creature had a budget of around $750k, and it shows. The effects are cheap, the sets are cheap and locations few, the film stock and processing look cheap, and the cast, well, they were available at the time of filming. And that includes Werner Herzog regular Klaus Kinski. I have no idea what straits Kinski must have been in around 1985 to take a role in a flick akin to a Hollywood version of community theater, but at least it looked as if he didn’t have to work all that hard for his check.

Lest I disparage the cast too much, one of the leads was played by Lyman Ward, otherwise known as Ferris’s dad, and he didn’t mail in a single line. The presence of Kinski in the cast meant there was a level of inherent talent that no other members could reach, but Kinski’s performance was very Telly Savalas guest appearance, if one understands my meaning. Ward at least was professional.

So, what’s this movie about? There’s an alien on a moon, and it’s killing a bunch of people who show up in a spaceship. That’s about it. Beyond that, there is little coherence to the plot, because the filmmakers keep switching up the monster’s rules. At times it’s a gigantic flesh-eating beast, at other times a mind-controlling parasite, and at still others it operates like a viral infection. Basically, it was adapted to the needs of the filmmakers to get this film in the can quickly, continuity be damned.

For a shitty movie, the cheap look and feel is somewhat endearing. It’s almost as if Ed Wood had been born a Baby Boomer and was making bad horror in the 1980s. If it had a livelier pace, it could have been a fun watch — good for a belly laugh or two. Unfortunately, by the second half I was having a hard time paying attention. A 97-minute run time rarely feels so long. This one goes to Alien: Resurrection. It’s a better ripoff of its source material than Creature.