The Creeps (1997)
WRITER: Benjamin Carr
DIRECTOR: Charles Band
STARRING: Rhonda Griffin as Anna Quarrels
Justin Lauer as David Raleigh
Bill Moynihan as Winston Berber
Kristin Norton as Miss Christina
Jon Simanton as Wolfman
Joe Smith as Mummy
Thomas Wellington as Frankenstein's Monster
Phil Fondacaro as Dracula
QUICK CUT: The classic monsters of our nightmares have been brought to life! Dracula! Frankenstein's Monster! The Mummy! The Wolfman!! Our only hope at stopping them is a librarian and a private eye slash DVD store clerk! Oh, and also, the monsters have been brought to life at one third their actual size. ...Oi.
Anna - A neophyte librarian who is a bit too innocent for her own good, a bit too trusting, and basically in the wrong library at the wrong time.
Raleigh - A DVD store clerk, who also happens to be a detective working out of the back office at the store. He seems bumbling at first, and okay he seems bumbling always, but actually turns out to be good at his night job. He's a big goofball who laughs a lot and is a surprisingly good detective.
Winston Berber - Your typical mad scientist with designs on world domination, and a plan that is not at all normal. He's twitchy, he's a bit flaky, and all he wants is to rule the world...with monsters.
Dracula - Very much the literary archetype, for reasons that will be come clear if you haven't figured it out already. He's got a code of honour, but he also will not suffer fools lightly.
THE GUTS: Welcome back Triskelions! September is coming to a close, and before we dive into October, and Trisk's 6th, 6th! 6TH!! anniversary, I thought I'd get in one last Full Moon movie. Because why not, right? I won't get a chance for another until we're well into the new year, what with the 6th, 6th! 6TH!! anniversary, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. So here comes The Creeps! The good news is, there's no puppets, or dolls, or evil toys of any sort. The bad news is...well, you'll see.
The movie starts off well enough with a one Mister Jameson trying to get a look at the rare, original copy of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Thrill at the red tape and bureaucracy he has to go through! Amaze at the identification he needs to show!
But the very twitchy guy jumps through all the right hoops, gets shown upstairs, with all the gloves and masks and all the precautions and finally gets to see the staggeringly old book. The Creeps, bringing the thrilling book reading action!
Which the library keeps in a safety deposit box? Is that accurate? It seems like a *real* library would have something different and better than the typical metal box from a bank. Ah well, I can roll with this since it's a pretty minor plot point, and likely what they had available.
Once Anna leaves the guy alone, he immediately swaps out the manuscript for a fake he carried in with him, and steals the original.
Meanwhile, Anna runs into her boss, who gives her a hard time over letting anyone look at the books, because the less they're handled, the better they're preserved. Oh, and Miss Christina is also apparently a lesbian with a thing for Anna.
And the guy goofs up some of their handling procedures, so Christina plans to use that as grounds to keep him from looking at any more rare books. Yes, thrill at the librarian action.
Some time later, Anna's back among the stacks, and due to established jealousy of not being able to look at the books herself, sneaks out the Frankenstein manuscript...and discovers all the pages are blank. Ugh, I hate writer's block.
Ahem. Anyways, she heads out to hire a private investigator to find Jameson and the stolen book, and save her career. But what she finds is some schlub trying to play at being a PI while working at a video store. Because that's a thing now. I guess that's the best she can afford on a librarian's salary.
So she fills him in on what happened, and ends up finding Raleigh to be pretty damned laughable as a detective, and not very threatening at all. Well, you get what you barely pay for, right?
In a surprising twist, Raleigh actually proves to be rather more competent than his operation appears at first glance. He actually manages to get a fingerprint off the fake manuscript, and discover that Jameson is actually Winston Berber. So now all they need to do is find him.
Suddenly, two weeks have passed, and Raleigh hasn't found out anything more. Anna shows up at the video store to give him crap for being lazy, and ends up firing him in frustration. Oh, and there's a guy in the store trying to rent normal, popular movies, and when he's told they're out, he asks for...random Full Moon movies instead. Nice way to sell your wares, Charles.
But that's all fine, because after Quarrels fires the DVD Detective, she heads back to work...where Berber shows up to check out more books. Well, THAT was easy.
Anna holds Berber at scissor-point, and calls Raleigh to work as her muscle so they can go retrieve the missing Shelley manuscript.
While she's distracted by David's continued incompetence, like not being able to come until five when the store closers, Berber pulls out a shock stick and zaps the librarian. Once she's unconscious he runs upstairs and steals the Dracula book. Oh, and he also kidnaps Quarrels.
She wakes up tied up to a table, and the pair yell at each other and badly act at each other. It's kinda painful to watch. Even her mocking of him comes off as goofy and childish.
But just what IS Berber up to, anyways? Well, it turns out that he's been stealing all the original books with some of our most famous monsters; Frankenstein's Monster, the werewolf, and the mummy. All he needed to complete the set was Stoker's Dracula. But oh no, Berber is not just some collector, he wants to use these books with a healthy dose of science and magic, to bring the monsters into the real world.
Okay, that's cool! That's a cool idea! I can get behind that, and it's a nice twist to have the creatures be fictional, and brought into a more 'normal' world! This should be fun! They'll wreak havoc nicely! And also worth noting, geeee, all our worst nightmares JUST so happen to be public domain. Convenient!
Before he can do that though, and use Anna as the not-exactly virgin sacrifice, Raleigh shows up, knocks the doctor out, and frees the girl. On their way out, they grab the books, but the machine was already started to create the villains. All right then, bring on the bad guys!!
So let's see, because Anna wasn't a virgin, had her clothes on, or even just wasn't there when the magicnology went down, compounded with the books being taken, and smaller, more contemporary versions being left behind, the monsters came out at miniature size. And also are not under Berber's control. So, the entire experiment went absolutely and completely wrong in the most spectacular, hilarious, ways.
The movie starts off with this actual fun idea of bringing the monsters into the real world, but because it's Charles Band, someone then went, "Hey...what if they were little people instead??" This can't go horribly wrong, right?
About the only upside of this is, Dracula is played by Trisk frequenter, Phil Fondacaro. This is what? The third or fourth movie I've reviewed with him? Anyways, Berber tries to explain to the monsters that they're not real, and just works of fiction. Can you imagine being the Mummy and having an existential crisis like this?
Phil really brings it, and is absolutely the best thing about this entire mess. He's a good actor, as I've said before, and he plays Dracula totally straight. It's actually something to behold, and if this movie did nothing else, at least it gave him a chance to almost do something with this role. If only there was more meat to it.
Berber explains the plot AGAIN to the Drac Pack, and they figure out what they need to do to restore themselves to normal size. Namely, kidnapping Anna and trying again. I like how they don't need the books anymore, but they need the girl, because reasons. Er, I mean, she's 'part of the equation'. But the books aren't?
Okay, now we're talking, the monsters are ready to run out and kill stuff and leave a bloody trail of destruction and chaos in their wake, so they can be restored! Right??
Well...no. Not exactly. Because that might bring me joy. They head to the library to grab Anna, but she's left for the weekend. Instead, they find Miss Christina instead. And since all they were told was "kidnap the blonde woman in the library" that's who they bring home.
But before they can get that far though, the movie decides it needs to do something wacky, over the top, lurid, and borderline exploitational.
Christina sneaks into the rare books, takes out a Jane Eyre manuscript and you would think her pulling it out with her bare hands would be bad enough. Especially after all the warnings and red tape she's haled so far in the movie. But oohhhh no. This librarian, this professional, this officious preserver of rare books... She...she undoes her blouse, grabs the book, hugging it against her body, and starts to rub it all over her.
And not just the cover, she opens the book, and presses pages against her flesh. This is...this is wrong on pretty much every level. Body oils, sweat, perfume, she's crinkling pages as the book is rubbed up and down, the spine is being bent, and cracked, and even *twisted* as she practically masturbates with the book. What. The. Hell.
This movie is only 75 minutes long! And that's arguably a stretch! But rather than actually DOING something, it pads out the already laughable runtime with this??
Fortunately, before this gets any more horribly wrong and weird, the monsters show up. For a different flavour of wrong and weird, I guess.
Their plan pretty much involves pulling a rope across the hallway, tripping her, and tossing a bag over her head. What is this, classic monsters of fiction, or the Three Stooges??
Dracula still wants Berber to try with the wrong blonde sacrifice though, since what's the worst that can happen? Well, you could be zapped into a late 90s Full Moon movie. I hear that's pretty terrible.
The doctor insists that she's wrong for this even if they were starting fron scratch, because she's not a naked virgin under 35. So, they strip her clothes off. So NOW the nudity is important? Not before?
Oh, and since she's a lesbian, and Drac's definition of virgin is all about having no sex with men, well sure! She's a virgin! And she SAYS she's under 35, sooo, that's three out of three! She's a better choice than Anna!
Now, if she'd just *lied* and said she was a 40 year old woman who banged guys all day and night long, they'd probably let her go!
But instead of being sacrificed, she gets sucked down Doctor Who's time vortex and out comes a viking woman that must have escaped from Kung Fury.
However, before Brunhilde there can cause any problems, Berber flips a switch and sends her back to wherever. Dude, if you can create portals that easily, sell THAT and rule the world with money and power. Or sell it to Quinn Mallory, I hear he's into sliding. Oh, and the monsters are still Mini Me sized.
So that was a ten minute long sequence where nothing was really accomplished. Except the lesbian book lover was turned into a Valkyrie and dropped down a portal.
Meanwhile, it's back to Raleigh trying to work up the courage to tell Anna she needs to pay him for his services. Yes, thrilling accounting action!!
He hears some noises inside his place, and goes to investigate with a candlestick, and finds Dracu-little looking to have a chat with the guy who is having a little trouble getting his candle up.
Dracu-lite tries to find out where the girl is, and is about to compel David, but oops, he has a cross, so he escapes. Unwittingly letting the mini monsters hitch a ride on his back bumper.
So we end up back at the library, where Berber is *already* hanging out, just working on his math, and the monsters show up to try and get the right girl this time.
After all that work, where is she? At her place of employment. Of course. So, more wasted effort by our monsters. When they need to find Berber, where is he? Back at the library. Need to find Anna? Library! You really *can* look everything up there.
But on the plus side, they're actually doing something, and chasing the girl around the creepy stacks!
Oh, and she stepped on a nail or something, just so she can RIP her shirt off and use it to bandage her foot. No reason!
So that leads us to a lengthy five minute scene of running and hiding, that eventually culminates in the monsters having the girl, and Raleigh trying to bargain for her life with Berber's. Which Dracula doesn't really care about, he has what he needs.
But the monsters win, knock out David, and everyone heads back to the lab where Anna is once again tied down to the table and prepared to be sacrificed. She doesn't take it well, and screams, making the doctor tell her to be quiet so he can concentrate. Making possibly the best gag of the movie, "Oh, hard to concentrate? WELL HOW'S THIS?? AAAHHH!!"
Rather than just get on with it and either wrap things up or restore the monsters for a rollicking third act (Yeah, that's not happening, don't hold your breath!) Want to know what the movie does? Talk some more! Because that's what we want to see from a monster movie! More technobabble!
So sure, let's stand around and go "Er uh um, in order to work with TWO people, we can't uh er um use two WOMEN because that would uh er unbalance things, but if we used a *male* with *clothes on* under 25 and a virgin!" Oh, and guess who fits that bill? Yep, David. Which doesn't explain why Anna still has her clothes on at this point, if they're trying for a) balance and b) all the talk about getting things right, but I don't care any more.
Okay okay, but we can finally get things going, right? Do something? NO! MORE STANDING AROUND AND TALKING! Because it's time for Anna to give a rousing speech to the monsters that they're better off as fictives. In books, they're legends, they're immortal, they never die as their stories live on and get remade as a terrible horror movie by Charles Band. But in the real world, they can be killed. Lady, if anything can kill off the legends of our greatest monsters, it might be Charles Band.
After that, the doctor tries to rush them into their tubes to get this over with, and restore his control over the monsters. But nooo, David tries to stall some more. Stop it, damnit, let this movie *end*. I never thought I'd find myself agreeing with Berber.
He wants to know why the doc is so keen to restore them, since they will be normal sized and won't need Berber anymore, but the doctor handwaves and gets everything going again before anyone can stop this plot any longer and realise he'll restore his control over them.
David slips free of the restraints because he's clever and they tied him wrong, they grab Berber, smash the big, red button, and viking Christina reappears to drag Berber off to the Fictiverse.
With Berber gone, Draculittle has our 'heroes' who didn't do much of anything at all, hit the red button one more time, again opening the portal, and the monsters returning to the land of stories. Because Anna's speech actually worked on them.
So...that may be the strangest ending to a movie I've seen...capped off with DracuPhil turning to the camera and saying not to worry, they will always be with us...IN OUR NIGHTMARES.
Yeah, let me tell you about my nightmares right now...
Does anyone care that David and Anna are apparently a couple now? No? Good.
Video: It's okay, but clearly not a lotta love was given to this transfer.
Audio: It sounds better than it looks, too bad every actor makes you wince.
Sound Bite: "What is this...movie??" I don't know, Drac...
Body Count: All right everyone, brace yourselves for the massive body count a movie starring Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, the mummy, and the wolfman! ABSOLUTELY ZERO.
Blood Type - F: If I could give a lower grade somehow, I would. The only blood we get is when Anna stabs her foot by accident.
Sex Appeal: Christina started to get naked when she humps the books, and the monsters finish the job in Berber's lab.
Drink Up! Every time Phil Fondracuclaro asks, "What is this...movie?"
Video Nasties: I just couldn't resist sharing Anna's big speech to the monsters, because it shows off the absurdity of the entire thing. I'm trying to avoid vidding the big final moments, but this is just early enough tonot quite be the conclusion. Plus, Phil's "SIIIILENCCCCE" is comedy fricking gold. Why didn't I share the scene of Christina and the books? It got a bit too uncomfortably adult for my tastes, and this is just hilarious. I had a few good choices here, and this one won out.
Also! If you sign up for Full Moon Streaming (Using my links to do so, and help support Trisk!) you can watch this entire movie online!
Movie Review: Well, it's adequately made, I suppose. The plot is clear, it does what it does, aside from the gibberish nonsense of the actual experiment and the balancing equations silliness. But the story is just plain *goofy*. And while the movie knows it, it doesn't quite revel in it as much as it could, it actually tries to play this somehow straight. Most of the humour comes from bumbling Berber. The biggest problem the movie has is low production values, and it isn't quite sure what it is. The effects are cheap late 90s fare, the sets look cheap, even the well known library location looks wrong somehow. On top of that, this movie so clearly is from the tail end of Full Moon trying to be more family friendly, with monsters who don't kill, a cutesy, silly plot, and getting bogged down by things like that. But at the same time, you have the uncomfortable booksturbation scene, and rampant nudity, so it's not THAT family friendly. There's just no clear voice or vision here. If I had to guess, this is very likely RIGHT in the middle of the family friendly era with that directing one side of things, and the start of Full Moon getting back to basics with movies like Blood Dolls, tugging it back in that direction. It's a mess, really. Two out of five shrunken monsters. And that's almost all for Phil Fondacaro's talent.
Entertainment Value: Okay, I established this is low budget trash, and it's goofy as hell, and the thing is, you gotta know that going in. The movie makes zero secret that the monsters of your nightmares are back...IN TINY FORM. You know what you're in for. If the plot actually went anywhere, or did something other than "Here they are...and now they're gone!" this could've been super fun. As it is, it IS kinda fun in a goofy way, and watching the badness. It doesn't quite reach So Bad It's Good standards, but it comes pretty close. It falls squarely on the field of "Someone actually made this??" Three out of five copies of Jane Eyre.