The Creeping Terror is a 1964 American science-fiction horror film directed, produced, and edited by Vic Savage aka A.J. Nelson. It is widely considered to be one of the worst films of all time.
A newlywed deputy, Martin Gordon (Vic Savage), encounters an alien spacecraft that has crash-landed in fictional Angel County in California.
A large, hairy, slug-like, omnivorous monster emerges from the side of an impacted spaceship. A second one, still tethered inside, kills a forest ranger and the sheriff (Byrd Holland) when they independently enter the craft to investigate.
Martin, now temporary sheriff, joins his wife Brett (Shannon O’Neil); Doctor Bradford (William Thourlby), a renowned scientist; and Col. James Caldwell, a military commander and his men to fight the creature. Meanwhile, the monster stalks the countryside, devouring a girl in a bikini, picnickers at a “hootenanny”, Grandpa Brown (Jack King) and his grandson while fishing, a housewife hanging the laundry, the patrons at a community dance hall, and couples in their cars at lovers’ lane.
The protagonists ultimately deduce that the monsters are mindless biological-sample eaters. The bio-analysis data is microwaved back to the probe’s home planet through the spaceship…
On September 12, 2017, Synapse Films released the film on Blu-ray on a double-bill with The Creep Behind the Camera, a 2014 docu-drama about its infamous director, ‘Vic Savage’.
Buy Blu-ray: Amazon.com
All-new 2K scan of The Creeping Terror (Blu-ray Exclusive)
Audio Commentary with Director Pete Schuermann, Producer Nancy Theken and stars Josh Phillips and Jodi Lynn Thomas
The Making of The Creep Behind the Camera
How to Build a Carpet Monster
Breaking Down Art’s Death Scene
Monster Movie Homages
“One Mick to Another” with Byrd Holland & Allan Silliphant
Screamfest Black Carpet Q&A with Frank Conniff
The Creep Behind The Camera Original Theatrical Trailer
The Creeping Terror Screamfest Promotional Trailer
Although Robert Silliphant is the credited writer, the original story was written by his younger brother, Allen. Silliphant’s half-brother, Stirling, was already a very successful writer at the time, having written extensively for TV shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents and co-created Naked City and Route 66.
The younger Silliphant brother had no idea that the family name was being used to influence potential investors in The Creeping Terror. Savage reportedly offered many of the investors a small part in the film for a few hundred dollars each, in exchange for a part of the profits.
Principal photography on location began in late 1962 but instead of shooting at scenic Lake Tahoe as Silliphant had intended, a muddy pond at Spahn Ranch in Simi Valley, California, was used. When the creator of the special effects was not paid, he “stole” the original creature just a day before shooting, forcing Savage and his crew to put together a poorly constructed replica.
With prolonged breaks as production difficulties were overcome, and new financing obtained, location shooting resumed in 1963.
Silliphant saw that the direction the film was taking would harm his family, especially the reputation of half-brother Stirling, rather than enhance it, so he bowed out after the studio scenes were done. The production became a weekend affair for several more months, with Savage raising the money by selling small parts to star-struck plumbers, and others.
There is only a limited amount of dialogue in the film because Savage supposedly shot scenes without regard to the professional quality of the sound. Having insufficient money to pay for basic sound transfers, Savage finally hired a local radio newsreader to narrate the entire film in post-production. The narrator speaks over much of the dialog in the film while long bouts devoid of dialogue have no narration.
Just before the film’s release, Savage was repeatedly sued, and facing a possible indictment on charges of fraud, vanished. He was apparently never heard from again in the context of film production, and reportedly died of liver failure in 1975, aged forty-one.
With Savage disappearing, as the main financier, William Thourlby acquired the remaining film stock and had an edited version created in order to recoup some of his investment. The Creeping Terror would not be suitable for wide release, instead, it was sold to television in 1976 as part of a syndication package of films for local channels.
“It’s not every day that we come across a film comparable to Manos: The Hands of Fate or Monster A-Go Go in terms of sheer ineptitude and laziness, not to mention that elusive quality that is often referred to as “badness”. One has to wonder what was going through the mind of Creeping Terror director/producer/editor/star Arthur Nelson on that fateful night when the seeds of this monstrous film germinated in his head.” The Monster Shack
“ …director, producer A.J. Nelson/star Vic Savage’s as (Deputy Martin Gordon) Z-grade science fiction slice of cheese makes the works of Ed Wood Jr. and Ted V. Mikels look more like Orson Welles at his peak. So, I recommend it to those out there who love to see a movie that makes their jaws fall open slack in disbelief”. The Uranium Cafe
“When you first glimpse the “monster from space” that is the film’s main source of “terror,” you’re in for a unique bad-movie-watching treat. Moving like Ethel Merman with her girdle down around her ankles, and apparently made from carpet remnants cadged from a dumpster, the film’s monster seems to be an ambulatory cow pie with a giant pinecone for a head.” John Wilson, The Official Razzie Movie Guide
Cast and characters:
- Vic Savage as Martin Gordon
- Shannon O’Neil as Brett Gordon
- William Thourlby as Doctor Bradford
- John Caresio as Col. James Caldwell
- Brendon Boone as Barney the Deputy [credited as Norman Boone]
- Byrd Holland as Sheriff
- Jack King as Grandpa Brown
- Pierre Kopp as Bobby
The film is also known as The Crawling Monster and Dangerous Charter.