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The Creep Behind The Camera (Blu-ray Review)

Synapse Films is giving you a nice double feature for your schlock loving goodness. Not only will you get the Blu-ray debut of 2014’s Biopic/Documentary The Creep Behind The Camera, but as an added bonus, you’ll get the original 1964 film with which that one is based, The Creeping Terror.  Unfortunately, there’s no option to have the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode with which I was familiar. That was during the Mike Nelson era of the fame cult show.  The disc is still stacked and DOES contain MST3K alumni and legend TV’s Frank himself, Frank Coniff, on one of the featurettes.  This one will be coming out alongside Synapse Films’ other new release (Dario Argento’s Phenomena) on September 12th, so pre-order of them and have yourself a nice little triple feature of terror on new release Tuesday.

Film 

A creature is haunting the streets of Los Angeles, waiting for the cover of night to stalk innocent young girls. Hungry for fame and fortune, it’s fueled by a demonic rage ready to devour anyone attempting to hinder its becoming the most powerful entity in Hollywood. While sometimes called A.J. Nelson, this demon is more commonly known as Vic Savage. This is his story. In 1964, Vic Savage made THE CREEPING TERROR with a microscopic budget verging on the non-existent. Quickly earning a reputation as the worst movie ever made, it tells of the arrival of an unconvincing alien life-form (a shambling carpet creature made of plastic tubing, wire and soap) that devours its picnicking, dancing and guitar-playing victims. Much like the infamous Ed Wood, Savage managed to pull off a variety of schemes to convince an honest producer to invest in what he promised to be “the biggest monster movie ever made”.

The Creeping Terror was a silly little crummy monster movie on no budget that was a fun slice ready to be riffed. That oddities’ true story however, wow. The Creep Behind The Camera bluntly and honestly tells that tale. The director went in to writing and producing the movie thinking this would wind up being a silly little story to tell. He was wrong, and realized he had to tell this story the right way. As dark and twisted as it actually was, and as horrific as played out.

Its told in both a dramatization/biopic way and also meshed with interviews, so its almost like a documentary. However, the movie-like portion of it will play for good long chunks that you forget there’s an interviewer around. The interviews are from people who worked on this film and from those who are appreciators and/or “scholars” for this type of thing. And man, it is a twist, scary and very hard to watch tale many time throughout this. Art Nelson was one messed up individual. And no, just by seeing The Creeping Terror does not mean you even know the half of it or the beginning of it.

Synapse Films has included the original film here for your viewing pleasure, but after you know the real story of what happened, can you still enjoy it? Well, also, without Mike Nelson, Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo can you really enjoy it. For me the answer was that it was kinda tough. But, I also was alone here. It was much better than those damn Fu Manchu Christopher Lee movies that I had to sit through that Blue Underground had me review a while back.

The Creeping Terror was a silly film, one of the worst B-atmoic age monster movies ever made. It made for some fun riffing on Mystery Science Theater 3000. However, This movie, The Creep Behind the Camera has cast a whole new f***ed up shadow on my viewing of it. Thanks a lot! Haha, I kid. But yeah, what a crazy, dark unheard story on something that turned out to be a little bit of crappy cinema’s fun joys. You may be going in expecting something fun like Ed Wood, but be warned…THIS IS NOT of that ilk. Its pretty scary.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio:  Creep Behind The Camera-1.78:1, Creeping Terror-1.33:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: The Creep Behind the Camera comes to Blu-ray with a nice, detailed, sharp, crisp strong image as you’d come to expect from any low budget indie horror film. Its not the best thing ever, but its better an average when it comes down to it. The Creeping Terror (Used as a bonus feature on the disc), looks as clear and crisp as its ever going to. Its full of grain, dirt, specs and some scratches, but nothing that isn’t really adding to the overall charm of it.

Depth:  Solid separation between background and foreground. Nothing wholly 3 dimensional looking, but its well above average. Characters move naturally with no real issues of blurring or jitter.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and provide some really good shading and added definition.  No crushing witnessed on this viewing of the film.

Color Reproduction: Colors are pretty strong and bold in the image. Its got some good use of reds and greens in the film throughout. Naturals come on really nice and look full.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones on the new film are natural and consistent, staying true to form throughout. The one sin the original film have a solid constant presence of white and gray. The new film features good detail work with wrinkles, make-up, lip texture, pores and the like. Creeping Terror looks better than its ever going to and has some impressive moments.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean. The original film features some heavier grain, scratches and dirt.

Audio 

Audio Format(s): Creep Behind The Camera-English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Creeping Terror-English Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: The Creep Behind the camera features a nice, balanced and better than middle of the pack 5.1 track. It does the trick and brings this thing to life well enough. The Creeping Terror sounds pretty cleaned up and really clear for what it is, but it still sounds plenty of its time. Overall, with both of these, I’m not sure you can ask for or should be expecting anything better.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Not really booming with subwoofer action as its used with music beats, some slamming, doors shutting and gunfire.

Surround Sound Presentation: Rear speakers are primarily used for ambient sound. The mix pays most attention to the front which features accurate travel and placement according to distance to match the onscreen actions.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is crisp and clean. The Creeping Terror has some slight hissy, vintage analog sourced sounding edge to it.

Extras 

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Pete Schuermann, Producer Nancy Theken, and Stars Josh Phillips & Jodi Lynn Thomas.

The Creeping Terror (HD, 1:16:52) – A 2K transfer of original vault materials. The full original film right here. Unscathed, unfortunately, also unriffed.

The Making of “The Creep Behind The Camera” (HD, 25:54) – Essentially the making of the movie that told the making of story of another. This has many of the same talking heads from the film as well as the production team and the whole story of coming up with it, casting, the shoot, you know the drill.

How To Build A Carpet Monster (HD, 28:11) – A detailed video of the special effects team in the shop going step by step, recreating the monster from the original film. Its so detailed you could really do your own if you want using this video as a manual.

Breaking Down Art’s Death Scene (HD, 7:23) – This has some commentary and behind the scenes/on-set video, focusing on how to tastefully capture the scene.

Monster Movie Homages (HD, :50) – The director points out 4 obvious homages seen in the film; Abominable Dr. Phibes, Plan 9 From Outer Space, Robot Monster…and a 4th one he leaves up to the audience.

“One Mick To Another” With Byrd Holland & Allan Silliphant (HD, 5:05) – One of the actors and the film’s writer have a little conversation as they are switching off interviews.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 11:35)

Alternate Ending (HD, 1:48)

Screamfest Black Carpet Q&A With Frank Coniff (HD, 18:45) – The former MST3K Mad hosts the Q&A with the cast and crew of the film following a screening of the film.

The Creep Behind The Camera: Original Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:34)

The Creeping Terror-Screamfest Promotional Trailer (HD, 3:50)

Summary 

The Creep Behind The Camera is the darkest timeline version of Tim Burton’s Ed Wood. A different schlock filmmaker and a wildly different backstory. Synapse Films brings it to Blu-ray with a great presentation in audio and video as well as a boat load of extras.  Just shy of including the MST3K episode (Which was never going to happen), its very complete package. Those interested, or who want to have their Creeping Terror innocence to become jaded, should pick it up.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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