October Horrorshow: Creepozoids

David DeCoteau might be the most prolific b-movie director of all time. As of this posting, he has 161 non-porn directing credits on his IMDb page. During his career he has treated film production as a volume business. Art? What’s that? Budget? If you can make a movie for less, we’ll match it! TV movies? Direct-to-video movies? Horror? Sci-fi? Comedy? Hallmark movies? DeCoteau will direct it. He can’t direct every movie that’s released in a year, but he can sure as hell try.

The second feature of DeCoteau’s career, Creepozoids was commission work from Charles Band’s Empire Pictures, the predecessor of his long-running house of schlock, Full Moon Features. The film was written by DeCoteau and Dave Eisenstark.

It’s the near future, and the nations of the world are lobbing megatons at each other over who knows what. In the desert wastes of the Southwestern United States, Jake (Richard L. Hawkins), leads fellow deserters Bianca (top-billed Linnea Quigley), Butch (Ken Abraham), Jesse (Michael Aranda), and Kate (Ashlyn Gere) away from the dangers of war, all the while evading the army from which they deserted, and pounding acid rains caused by nuclear fallout. Well, that’s the jist. What we see as viewers is the cast stumbling around under a bridge and over some railroad tracks, and the most worn out stock footage of clouds one will ever see. There are more scratches and gouges in that stock footage than a werewolf’s emery board, but that didn’t stop DeCoteau from using it.

Soon the group finds shelter from the rain in an abandoned lab that’s fully stocked for the duration of a nuclear winter. Hot showers, cooked food, and soft beds are the order of the day. It appears that our heroes will be able to wait out the nuclear apocalypse in comfort. But, the lab was abandoned for a reason. It was the site of experiments to induce the human body to manufacture its own amino acids, thereby rendering the consumption of solid food superfluous. That would be a useful trait to have in the world of this film, but the experiments failed, creating a monster that crawls about the facility, looking for movie fodder.

Filmed in fifteen days, Creepozoids looks it. The lab set was a warehouse, and DeCoteau and company dressed about four rooms worth of it. Only six people appear in the film in total (Joi Wilson appears as a scientist in an introductory scene). The sets are bare and grey, and filled with whatever random junk DeCoteau could get his hands on that resembles a laboratory. A good deal of the film takes place in an air shaft, further betraying this flick’s lack of resources.

DeCoteau has his cast seek out the monster more than it seeks them out, and that might have been because the monster costume was too big to fit in the air shaft. Whatever.

There are some good gore effects to be had, but that’s about it. Creepozoids is a very small-scale story. Characters put themselves in danger more to move the story along than for any other reason. They’re trapped inside a small space with a deadly monster, and if one pays close attention, the space available to everyone in this movie is not much larger than a decent-sized apartment.

In the end, Creepozoids is a film undone by its budget and the director’s insistence on getting the film into the can as quickly as possible. It’s commodity filmmaking. But, since it features Linnea Quigley, we also get her contractually obligated nude scene. It’s a tradeoff.

Creepozoids is a title in search of a movie. It slots into the mediocre middle of the Watchability Index, displacing The Being at #247.

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