• Creep Behind The Camera, The / Creeping Terror



    Released by: Synapse Films
    Released on: September 12th, 2017.
    Director: Pete Schuermann
    Cast: Josh Phillips, Jodi Lynn Thomas, Bill LeVasseur
    Year: 2014
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    The Movie:

    The 2014 feature The Creep Behind The Camera is a docu-drama that tells the story behind the making of one of the most notoriously ‘bad’ movies to come out of the mid-sixties, The Creeping Terror (which is reasonably notorious for the skewering it received on Mystery Science Theater 3000 (that episode is reviewed here). The man behind the monstrosity is Vic Savage, a.k.a. A.J. Nelson and born Arthur Nelson White (Josh Phillps), the man who would produce, direct and star in this turkey.

    The end results of Savage’s efforts were…. pretty bad. The Creeping Terror was made with very little money by a bunch of people who clearly had no idea what they were doing. The titular monster is made out of carpet and moves so slowly that it couldn’t possibly pose a threat to any of the characters, and yet it somehow eats a car. The soundtrack is made up of stoic narration intended to give the messy plot some helpful context and the acting is bad. The story behind the movie, however, is pretty great.

    See, Savage was a bit of a schemer. He conned his way into getting investors to fund the project by making one empty promise after another and it would seem he suffered from some pretty serious mental issues while working on the film (this is made evident from the opening scene in which he sports a Hitler moustache and flexes dramatically in front of a mirror). From there, we see him laying with his leading lady, the woman who just so happened to be his wife, Lois Wiseman (Jodi Lynn Thomas), a pretty woman who sure did put up with a lot. Savage’s personality starts to shine through as he launches the production and principal photography gets underway. Of course, he runs out of money and finish the project becomes its own set of problems but eventually it does get finished.

    Most of this is communicated to the audience via some well-done reenactments. These are hyped up a bit for dramatic effect we can assume but they’re fun to watch and it’s nice to see how much attention as paid to period detail here. Phillips is eminently watchable as Savage, he’s all greasy charm in one scene and a downright rat bastard in the next, and he carries the movie really well. Lovely Jodi Lynn Thomas is also quite good as his put upon wife. She not only looks great but she’s a solid actress as well and as all of this plays out you can’t help but feel sorry for her.

    More interesting than the reenactment footage, however, are the very real interviews with a bunch of people who knew Savage and worked with him on The Creeping Terror. The real Lois Wiseman appears here, as does screenwriter Allan Silliphant. The stories they tell, which we’re not going to spoil in this review, are the real highlights of the movie. Title designer Richard Edlund (who would later work on Star Wars!) and actor William Thourlby also appear here and offer some fascinatingly strange memories of their work on the movie.

    Production values are solid. The color photography is crisp and nicely handled while the score, courtesy of director Pete Schuermann, has an appropriately ‘mid-sixties’ sound and tone to it. The movie also makes use of some strange but entertaining animated bits here and there. Tonally this one is out there, but stick with it – you won’t regret it.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Synapse Films offers up The Creep Behind The Camera on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition presentation that’s framed at 1.78.1 widescreen. As this was shot digitally there’s obviously no print damage to note or grain to discuss. Fine detail is pretty good for a movie that was clearly made on a modest budget itself, while color reproduction is typically really nice as well. The movie also benefits from good skin tones and solid black levels.

    The English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is also fine. The surround channels are used almost exclusively for the score more than anything else, with the dialogue mostly up front in the mix but it works. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion and the levels are fine. Optional English subtitles are offered up here as well.

    Extras start off with a feature length audio commentary from director Pete Schuermann, producer Nancy Theken and cast members Josh Phillips and Jodi Lynn Thomas. This is a really interesting look at what went into getting this feature made as well as how it evolved from a straight documentary into the form it was finished in. There are lots of interesting stories here about how those interviewed for the movie wound up influencing the final project, how the cast members got into character, what it was like on set and quite a bit more.

    From there, we get a nice selection of featurettes starting off with The Making of The Creep Behind The Camera, which is twenty-five minute long piece that explores the origins of the picture just as the commentary does but which also shows off some of the locations, how a few of the reenactments were put together and other related topics. Up next is the amusing How To Build A Carpet Monster which is a half hour long selection of video diary entries shot during the production that show off just how difficult it was to recreate such a terrible looking movie monster! Fun stuff. A few shorter featurettes are also worth checking out. The seven minute Breaking Down Art's Death Scene shows off how and why a specific character’s demise was handled the way that it was and the tricks involved in making that happen. The one minute long Monster Movie Homages is a quick piece wherein Schuermann talks about some of the nods to other monster movies that exist in his feature while One Mick To Another With Byrd Holland & Allan Silliphant is a five minute conversation between the two men about their work together. Last up, there’s a Screamfest Black Carpet Q&A session with Frank Conniff that runs nineteen minutes and features not just the Q&A material but some footage from the film’s appearance at that particular festival as well.

    Rounding out the extras are an alternate ending, eleven minutes of deleted scenes, a trailer for The Creeping Terror and for The Creep Behind The Camera, menus and chapter selection.

    BUT WAIT! THERE’s MORE!

    Synapse has also included in its entirety an ‘All-New 2K Scan of the Original Horror Classic, The Creeping Terror’ – which means that you get the film that started it all included here as well. Transferred from 35mm elements that were less than pristine, this is never the less a decent presentation of a movie that has never really looked good in the first place (this is, however, quite a nice step up when compared to previous DVD releases of the feature). The feature is presented in AVC encoded 1080p and framed at 1.33.1 and it features DTS-HD 2.0 Mono audio in its native English language.

    The Final Word:

    The Creep Behind The Camera is as interesting as it is strange, a docu-drama that once again proves that sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction. Synapse has gone all out with the film’s Blu-ray release, presenting it in very nice shape and loaded with extras. And on top of that? We get the exclusive Blu-ray debut of the film that inspired it, The Creeping Terror. All in all, a very impressive release.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!









































    Comments 1 Comment
    1. John Bernhard's Avatar
      John Bernhard -
      TERROR looks like it should be widescreen, shame they did a new scan & went open with the presentation