• Creature (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: November 26th, 2021.
    Director: William Malone
    Cast: Stan Ivar, Wendy Schaal, Lyman Ward, Robert Jaffe, Diane Salinger, Klaus Kinski
    Year: 1985
    Purchase From Vinegar Syndrome

    Creature – Movie Review:

    Directed by William Malone, who co-wrote with Alan Reed, 1985's Creature borrows way too heavily from Ridley Scott's Alien and John Carpenter’s The Thing for its own good but it's still a really entertaining slice of gooey, gory mid-eighties nonsense.

    The story takes place in the future, deep in the far reaches of outer space where a team of American researchers working for a company called NTI led by Captain Mike Davison (Stan Ivar) and lead scientist Beth Sladen (Wendy Schaal) are sent off to Titan, a moon that orbits Jupiter, where they're to investigate what happened to their predecessors. See, the last crew that went to Titan was there to bring back some important artifact but they were killed in the process.

    When the crew makes it to Titan, they find that there's a single survivor from the earlier German expedition working for Richter Dynamics in the form of a man named Hans Hofner (Klaus Kinski), an eccentric weirdo who really likes sandwiches. He knows the truth about what happened. An ancient creature stalks the area, a slimy beast with big teeth and a craving for blood that also has the added ability of being able to somehow control the recently deceased!

    There’s very little here that’s even remotely original but Creature does have a few things going for it that make it a pretty fun watch. There’s some genuinely cool miniature work on display throughout the film, and while it always looks like exactly that – miniature work – it’s charming in the way that low budget effects work can be. The movie is also very gory at times, there’s a lot of carnage in the last half hour or so, we even get a great exploding head effect, and even if the gore rarely feels realistic, it adds to the movie’s comic book feel. We also get a bit of nudity and a decent, if not altogether too memorable score. The creature itself is a goofier version of Giger’s xenomorph but it’s fun to watch it lumber about.

    As far as the acting goes, the supporting players are all pretty forgettable but Stan Ivar doesn’t do a bad job at all as the ship’s captain. He plays a good tough guy here. Likewise, lovely Wendy Schaal is pretty solid as the brainy scientist. Of course, you can’t overlook the Klaus Kinski factor here. While he isn’t really in the movie for that long, he’s a lot of fun to watch when he is, chewing the scenery (and his sandwich) with that weird sort of glee he brought to a lot of his roles.

    Creature – Blu-ray Review:

    Creature makes is presented on region free Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen taking up 28GBs of space on a 50GB disc. Primarily scanned and restored in 4k from its 35mm original negative, it looks excellent. Most past DVD editions have been sourced from washed out analogue sources so it’s nice to see the movie taken from a proper film source as it really does add to the experience. Colors look good, we get strong black levels and really nice detail. There’s good depth to the image and the many dark scenes boast pretty solid shadow detail. Thankfully, this always looks like film, showing no problems with noise reduction, edge enhancement or compression problems.

    The only audio option for this release is a 24-bit English language DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track. The track is properly balanced throughout, no problems with any hiss or distortion. Dialogue is always easy to understand and follow and the score sounds pretty solid as well.

    Note that Vinegar Syndrome includes not only the 1:34:53 theatrical cut but also the 1:40:53 director’s cut under the alternate title of Titan Find, restored in 2k and presented in high definition with DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo audio. This was sourced from "an extremely dense 35mm vault print" as no pre-print elements for the Titan Cut find seem to exist. A disclaimer before the movie starts alerts us to the fact that despite Vinegar Syndrome's best efforts, some color flicker and light image damage are still there.

    Extras begin with yet another commentary from the guys behind The Hysteria Continues! that goes over how they came to know the film and their thoughts on the picture, how it is in some ways Friday The 13th in space, the fashions on display in the picture, background info on Malone's Titan Find version, details on the pre-production process, details on Malone's career, cuts that were made to the film by the BBFC for its UK release, the film's budget, how some of the cast members felt about working with Kinski, some of the set design in the picture, details on that cast members featured in the picture and quite a bit more.

    The disc also contains a documentary called Finding Titan: The Making Of Creature which includes interviews with special effects artist Doug Beswick and cast members Stan Ivar, Lyman Ward, Diane Salinger and Marie Laurin. Here, over twenty-one minutes, we learn details on how each of the participants got into film and/or acting, how they wound up participating in the movie, trying to create an accurate military chain of command feel to the characters, what Malone was like to work with as a director, friendships that were made on set, and what Klaus Kinksi (who was apparently living in a cabin on a mountain and sleeping on straw on the floor) was like to work with. They also cover the sets that were built, the costumes and make up jobs that were required for certain scenes, the creature effects on display and creating mechanics for its neck and the sweetness inherent in some of the relationships that exist between the characters in the movie.

    Space On A Budget is an interview with director/co-writer William Malone that clocks in at just under seventeen minutes. He covers how he'd been making shorts prior to this before making a low budget feature called Scared To Death that proved successful. This led to his making Creature, noting that the producer did want to make a film 'very much like Alien.' He then goes on and covers writing the picture, the film's budget, working with a lot of unfamiliar faces in the cast, his thoughts on the performances, how and why the nude scene appeared in the picture, thoughts on the effects, difficulties that arose during the production, how Titan Find became creature at the behest of the producers and how the film has found a cult audience over the years, which he appreciates.

    This release also comes packaged with some legitimately awesome reversible cover sleeve art and a limited edition embossed slipcover.

    Creature – The Final Word:

    Creature is pretty blatant rip off of Alien, sure, but it’s also a whole lot of goofy fun. Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray release contains the theatrical cut in great shape, the director’s cut and loads of extras. Fans of schlocky space-based horror, take note!

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