This post is part of Movies Silently’s Accidentally Hilarious Blogathon!
THE CREEPING TERROR (1964)
I never pay attention to IMDb scores… I like to watch something and get my own feel for a film or television show. So I won’t mention that this film got a whopping 2.1 and is considered one of THE WORST films ever made. Yes, it’s true it’s terrible even when judged by the standards of the most elite cheesy films that have been dubbed a ‘turkey’… So terrible…. in that delicious, so bad it’s good way…It is inane on an Operatic level!
I mean a rambling patchwork carpet monster. The underside of this slow roaming rug whose cotton batting seems glued with excelsior having come unfurled after years of moths gnawed at it… make it look like the stuffing’s coming out of this film itself!
It’s ‘creeping’ head has little hardware coils like dread locks on it’s bulbous alien dome. Reminiscent of creative animator Art Clokey’s lovable green clay guy– it’s almost Gumby-seque face wearing a prairie bonnet of scrap metal or a mutated brussels sprout wearing curlers? One could even imagine a Venutian Raggedy Ann doll’s head…. geesh this creeping nightmare is a wonderful mess!
not to mention…
When the thing rears up, it looks more like director Nelson, was working on some subliminal Freudian angst about giant gaping vagina’s eating him… a woven vagina I might add with a phallus shaped head! Wow talk about your double entendres.
Neither the acting nor the storyline matter since it’s all about the lumbering carpet monster on the screen… wow, this is sublimely brilliant in an unintentional way, or for the purposes of this blogathon, it’s Accidentally Hilarious!–So many scenes in fact are hysterical, so much so that the folks at MST3K couldn’t resist the temptation to lampoon it.
Let me say I adore this film. The same way that us cult fanatics worship Ed Wood’s films—Because they are endearing and engaging and utterly ludicrous yet engrossing. That takes a certain kind of distinctive potion to create a film that both stinks…. yet entertains ceaselessly.
There’s even a documentary called “Creep’ by Colorado film maker Pete Schuermann www.creepfilm.com which chronicles the behind the scenes going ons of seedy director Art J. Nelson, a con man, pimp, drug addict and purveyor of under aged girls who reportedly ‘auditioned’ for him. He was threatened with jail time.
I know people have written about MANOS: The Hands of Fate (1966) being the worst, or Plan 9 From Outer Space, and of course Phil Tucker’s awesomely ludicrous Robot Monster (1953) befit with a cockamamie ape suit, diving helmet and bubbles, lots of tiny little bubbles. And of course the ever popular ‘Jan in the Pan’, better known as The Brain That Wouldn’t Die 1962
Still… It’s this little creeping gem that gets under the skin a little like ring worm.
Worm… no more like slug. Yes, the Creeping Terror is a giant monster that looks like the prop department ransacked a decaying mansion’s attic and found Old Granny Holestead’s Persian Rug who mated with a Chinese Dragon Costume from the Chinese New Year’s Dragon Dance designed by Jim Henson.
The best part is the speed at which this monster…. well…. CREEPS. it actually does creep. So slowly, at a slugs pace, that it’s any wonder it gets to eat any people in the film at all.
There’s so much time to run away from this lumbering human eating carpet slug, but NO!!!!! people get devoured as if frozen in time, slowly caught in their fright scream–as they are consumed by this broadloom land shark, this gaping maw of an area rug on the prowl and the mostly female legs hanging out the hole to prove it!
From John Stanley’s Revenge of the Creature Features Movie Guide– “It depicts an elongated alien monster resembling a clumsy shag rug which devours people through a gaping maw, overturns cars and takes forever to shamble ten feet!”
Yes that’s another fetish aside from the leggy part of the female anatomy that the monster is fixated on, it also has a hankering for cars. Loves to rub up against them, turn them over… and shamble after them…
Something of interest for me is the fact that Byrd Holland plays the sheriff. He was responsible for the make-up in Lemora (1973) and The Baby (1973) starring Ruth Roman and Cronenberg’s Rabid (1977). Holland is a highly intelligent and talented artist, and I love to see someone with their own vision start out in such a uniquely either intentional or inadvertent timeless culty piece of artistic refuse.
Directed by A. J. Nelson aka Vic Savage the actor who plays Martin Gordon. The story is written by Robert Silliphant. The Beach Girls and the Monster 1965 & The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!! 1964
Vic Savage (director A. J. Nelson himself) plays deputy Martin Gordon, Shannon O’Neil plays new bride Brett Gordon, William Thourlby is Dr. Bradford, John Caresio plays Col. James Caldwell, Brendon Boone plays Barney the Deputy. Jack King is Grandpa Brown, Louise Lawson is the blonde in the gold pants…. And Larry Burrell is our narrator… thanks Larry for the stirring police procedural or army training film like earnestness.
The director of photography is Andrew Janczak, A.J. Nelson did the editing and Clifford Stine is attributed with the special effects. Jon Lackey designed the monster. (Perhaps, After an all night drinking binge woke up under his Aunt Tilly’s Turkish Rug imagined he was being eaten and boom you got a monster!
The opening titles were designed by the uncredited visual effects specialist Richard Edlund.
Frederick Kopp’s scintillating musical score is perfect for the mood, with discordant jazz piano and troubled horns!
There’s some very funky sound effects actually and in spots a grim Hammond organ underscore the scenes with a ironic incongruous hilarity. Then a serious horn section cuts in with the anxious post modern piano stabs that accentuate the rollicking peril….!
Art Direction by Bud Raab… art direction? Teehee that’s a credit worth mocking!
Okay the plot rolled into one tiny little carpet runner– Actually filmed in Lake Tahoe
A rocket crash lands in the fictional Angel County, California. What comes crawling out of the busted hull of the craft is an alien monster that looks like a lumbering Cabaret Kafkaesque metamorphosized Turkisk Rug that mated with a caterpillar and moves at the rate of of 2 inches per hour– wreaking havoc in a small town. As it traipses through the country scenery and urban nite life it munches on all it encounters.
Now the newly married deputy Martin Gordon (the sheriff has been killed while investigating the ship, by a second little carpet monster still inside the spacecraft) must stop it from eating the entire town. Aided by scientist Dr. Bradford and Col James Caldwell and the military. (guys who can’t aim their guns in time or spread out enough or not trip over their own combat boots not to get eaten!) Caldwell gets orders to suppress the news about the monster.
This mindless ravenous rug is actually a probe that is on earth to take samples, analyze and send them back to their alien galaxy before they plan on conquering our planet!
The only film with no dialogue but tons of incongruous narration. Reportedly the original audio tracks were lost. What’s left are scenes that are guided by sober voice-over and the side step here and there to regard the virtues of married life…
Narrator: “Barney and Martin had been bachelor buddies for years. But now that Martin was settling down to marriage, they were slowly drifting apart. Barney, naturally, was still dating all the girls in town, and he couldn’t understand why Brett and Martin didn’t pal around with him more than they did. He couldn’t comprehend that married life brought with it not only new problems and duties, but the necessary togetherness of husband and wife as well. Despite Brett’s most tactful considerations, such as inviting him over to dinner quite often, Barney was growing resentful of her, or at least she felt that he was. Since time began this change in relationships probably happened to all buddies in similar circumstances. Life has its way of making boys grow up, and with marriage, Martin’s time had come. His life was now Brett, a life that he thoroughly enjoyed.”
Veiled warnings against the ills of sexual freedom and singlehood considering most 50s & 60s Sci-Fi/Horror films show that the victims are eaten while in the throws of youthful raging hormones or libidinous acts of desire. Evidenced by the shots of the female legs that lay sprawling out of the gaping orifice of the wonderfully asinine monster’s mouth. He also eats a girl in a bikini, several couples at a picnic, grandpa and little Bobby fishing!
Narrator: “That afternoon, in Mungreeve Park, a group of neighbors got together for a hoot-e-nanny.”
And of course the rudimentary neckers parked at the local lovers lane.
One of the most bizarre and ‘creepy’ scenes that stuck out for me is where the mother hanging her laundry is about to be the carpet-pillar’s snack, just prior to, she shows us the thermometer before she’s about to take her baby’s temperature rectally ‘off camera‘… Oy vey!!! No not that way please!!!!!
But perhaps the most surreal, and favorite scene for me is the killer (literally) dance sequence when the carpet monster invades the dance hall. People are twisting and gyrating all groovy and early rock n’ roll 60s like and this plodding monstrosity manages to devour all of these hapless souls who just stand there waiting to get eaten… remember the stampede from The Blob!!!! this is the antithetical-flight– the languid stand there and wait to be eaten group death scene.
And of course that oh so awkward scene of the giant Persian rug, or pieces of rugs sewn together that attacks an automobile with passengers… looking like it’s actually making whoopee with the car spray painted 23 Skiddoo— for the third time we see a pair of female legs (an obvious fetish of director Nelson’s, being consumed by the great sluggish beast–oh my this film’s got so many wacky tid bits.
This creeping carpet thingy just leisurely eats it’s way through people til you’re scratching your head asking why and how? because the pace it shambles is more emblematic of a Bergman character contemplating life and not a 60s sci-fi monster. Well with the exception of Corman & Blaisdell’s cucumber monster in It Conquered the World who sort of just trundled out the cave barely flapping it’s rubber arms at the flame throwers!
Narrator- “Martin was outraged by the governments intellectual approach to a monster that had already killed and caused the disappearance of his two close friends.”
Aside from the moral message, get married… the film isn’t somber, intense or foreboding. It’s not nostalgically exhilarating or dreary or even tragically triumphant… it’s just darn hilarious! And there you have it….
So much carpet monster eating carnage!!!
From IMDb trivia-
- According to rumors, a more impressive looking monster was originally designed and built for the movie. However, only a few days before shooting was to begin, the monster was stolen. Pressed for time and out of money, director Vic Savage and his crew hastily threw together the infamous “pile of carpets” monster that appears in the film.
- The stock audio of the monster’s growling was also used in Battle Beyond the Sun (1962) and Jack the Giant Killer (1962).
- Filmed at the Spahn Ranch infamous Manson gang residence.
- The opening titles were done by then-unknown Richard Edlund. He is uncredited in the film.
- Evidence is lacking that this film ever received a theatrical release. There were no advertised theatrical showings in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, or The Chicago Tribune before it began to be shown on television circa 1976.