Okay. There are too many films already called CREATURE. From the Peter Benchley adaptation, to the American title for the film us Brits most fondly remember as TITAN FIND, and beyond; it’s a criminally overused title.

So, how do you get a film laboured with such a title noticed? How about opening proceedings with a full-frontal female nude shot as a hairily bushed lovely disrobes to go skinny-dipping one overcast afternoon? Perfect: you’ve got my attention already.

Said girl is subsequently attacked in the lake and barely manages to swim to shore before passing out, her legs having been chewed off from the arse cheeks downwards.

Cut to a sextet of typically obnoxious young Americans (I’m not saying young Americans are obnoxious – just the ones that get written into modern horror films), driving along in the Deep South looking for somewhere to party over the weekend. They stumble upon a sign for Fort Collins, which isn’t even on their roadmap (they don’t have SatNav?!).

They stop at a petrol station but are perturbed to learn that there’s no fuel there. Regardless, the three boys of the group – Niles (Mehcad Brooks), Oscar (Dillon Casey) and Randy (Aaron Hill) – case the store anyway, buying some beer and learning from the yokels there about the legend of a half-man-half-alligator beast called Lockjaw which is said to haunt the local swamps.

Of course, they laugh this off – despite the rather intense insistences of locals Chopper (Sid Haig) and freaky-fingered Jimmy (David Jensen).

Chopper points the boys in the direction of a disused mine where tragedy occurred many moons before (linked to the legend of the creature, naturally) before ushering them on their way. Of course, any right-minded person would take this encounter with Southern weirdoes and monstrous stories as a direct cue to turn around and fuck off home … but not these revellers …

Rather, the group continue their road-trip intent on exploring the local legend some more: they head out for the house where the creature was said to have been borne. And, for some reason, Oscar suddenly appears to know the background of the legend well enough to pass it on to their increasingly nervous girlfriends …

The above synopsis takes you 20-odd minutes in to this 89 minute film. You truly don’t need much more as that’s the exposition pretty much exhausted. In terms of characterisation, you’ve had it – there isn’t any more. Everyone is one-dimensional, albeit pretty, and without any semblance of backstory or emotional hook. The locals, including Haig, are mere stooges: they’re good at what they do here, but don’t expect any fresh perspective on their well-worn roles.

And of course, following this simple set-up and a bit of drinking and fucking that follows (albeit kinky – lesbianism and incest, anyone?!), this soon turns into a body-count creature feature with occasional cut-aways to the locals deliberating whether they care enough to venture out and save the hapless out-of-towners from their inevitably messy fate.

What rises CREATURE above its mediocre premise and awfully uninspired title is its polished cinematography, sharp editing and decent performances. Oh, and director Fred Andrews’ willingness to punctuate his fast-moving film with plenty of rousing gore, sex and nudity. God bless him.

It falls conceptually somewhere between LAKE PACID, WRONG TURN and THE WICKER MAN (yes, really), but at the end of the day CREATURE – against all the odds – doesn’t do a bad job of standing in its own shoes.

Just don’t expect Rob Bottin to be on hand when you finally get to see the monster …

Revolver Entertainment’s DVD presents the film uncensored in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The picture is anamorphically enhanced and is pretty amazing, offering great amounts of clarity and depth. Flesh-tones are natural, contrast is remarkably strong and night scenes – of which there aren’t many – remain free from blocking or noise.

Likewise, the English audio options available – 2.0 and 5.1 – are both spiffing propositions. Go for the naturally more robust latter if you can, it rocks.

A discreetly animated main menu page opens proceedings. From there, static sub-menus include a scene-selection menu allowing access to the film via 12 chapters.

Extras begin with a 6-minute featurette entitled "Making the Monster". It harks back to the film’s origins (sourced from a novel), and looks into not only the FX but the logistics of acting the Lockjaw role. Cast and crew members appear talking head-style in efforts to convince us that, while this film may sound like something that’s been done before, we’re actually in for something different. They’re wrong, but I admire their enthusiasm regardless.

"On the Bayou" is an 8-minute retrospective where cast and crew gush breathlessly about how beneficial it was to work on location rather than be confined to soundstages

Finally, the 7-minute "The Film Makers" introduces us to those behind the camera (primarily Andrews) and gives others the chance to shoot their load on camera about working with such genius.

Each of the above documentaries is peppered with agreeable behind-the-scenes footage and come in crisp 16x9 presentations.

CREATURE is nothing new but does get by, thanks to oodles of zest and style. The sex and violence scenes are both handled with an agreeable degree of knowing humour, performances are savvy and Andrews emerges from the whole thing as a director worth keeping an eye on.

Revolver Entertainment do the film justice with their DVD release.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Revolver Entertainment
Region 2 PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review