Director – Fred Andrews, Screenplay – Fred Andrews & Tracy Morse, Producers – Bill Sheinberg, Jonathan Sheinberg & Sid Sheinberg, Photography – Christopher Faloona, Music – Kevin Haskins, Visual Effects – 11:11 Mediaworks, Special Effects Supervisor – Jerry Constantine, Production Design – Jakub Durkoth. Production Company – The Bubble Factory
Mechad Brooks (Niles), Sid Haig (Chopper), Dillon Casey (Oscar), Lauren Schneider (Karen Parker), Amanda Fuller (Beth), Serinda Swan (Emily), Aaron Hill (Randy Parker), David Jensen (Jimmy), Wayne Pére (Bud), Pruitt Taylor Vince (Grover), Daniel Bernhardt (Grimley Boutine), Rebekah Kennedy (Caroline Boutine)
A group of six friends head off to go camping in backwoods Louisiana. Stopping off at a roadside store in Fort Collins, they become intrigued by the local legend of Grimley Boutine that the storeowners are trying to promote as a tourist attraction. The group’s leader Oscar, who grew up in the area, explains the story of how Grimley was to marry his own sister, only to see her snatched by a white alligator. Obsessed and deranged, Grimley tracked the alligator down and killed it, in his madness eating the gator’s flesh and that of its victims. According to the legend, this caused him to mutate into a half-man, half-alligator creature. As the group of friends set up camp and fool around, the very much real alligator creature starts stalking and killing them. Moreover, the locals are intending one of the girls of the group to be the alligator man’s new bride.
Right from its opening scene, where a woman strips off to go skinny-dipping in the bayou and proudly turns to the camera to show us all of her assets both top and bottom, before being attacked by something unseen in the water and swimming to shore to emerge with her legs eaten off, Creature announces itself as a full-bloodedly enthusiastic return to the 1980s B movie. It is a scene that could easily be taken from the remake of Piranha (2010).
Creature certainly gets the business of being a modern B movie right and does all the basics fairly well. Former production designer and debuting director Fred Andrews maintains the level of gratuitous exploitation in the opening scene throughout the rest of the film, willingly getting all of his female cast members to whip their tops off at a moment’s notice – even throwing in lesbian make-out scenes. The characters are drawn with a certain self-aware postmodern irony, yet are played with enough edges to seem convincingly realistic – although the tics of the backwoods hicks are overdone to the point that they become repetitive. Fred Andrews directs and photographs the show like it were a slick, well produced mainstream release rather than a B movie. He produces tension and a number of surprises throughout. The effects work for the creature also looks reasonably convincing.
Creature is more than willing to homage its forebears – most notably in the casting of Blaxploitation star Sid Haig who gained a new genre lease of life after turning up in Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses (2003). Regular movie psycho Pruitt Taylor Vince also turns up as a weird local – he would be the equivalent of Friday the 13th (1980)’s Crazy Ralph if everybody in this particular Louisiana backwater didn’t appear to be crazy. That aside, Creature is to its benefit largely free of the need to obsessively quote and keep referring back to other genre works that plague too many modern horror films.
However, the main problem that Creature has is the very concept it sets up – teenagers being hunted by a half-man, half-alligator creature. The idea seemed ridiculous when it was conducted in the 1950s with the cheap The Alligator People (1959) and is no less ridiculous when conducted on a halfway reasonable budget here. It is an idea that surely requires a film with tongue planted considerably in cheek to pull it off – Shark Night 3D (2011), which came out only one week earlier and featured a near-identical plot about college kids being stalked in the Louisiana bayous and sinister scheming from the overly exaggerated backwoods hicks, had a much better sense of being a B-movie with tongue planted in its cheek. You think that maybe that is the way that Creature is going. There is some great cod myth-making during the visit to the tatty tourist promotion at the convenience store and during the telling of the story of Grimley and his bride/sister, but the bulk of the film surprisingly appears to be taking everything seriously. When the film does produce its alligator man, its taking such a premise seriously only causes it to slide down into the irredeemably silly.
Creature is the only directorial outing so far from Fred Andrews who mostly works as a production designer, usually in tv.