I’m a sucker for bi-pedal monsters rendered from rubber or latex suits. The list is endless, including numerous low-budget men-in-gorilla-suit films of the 30’s and 40’s. Then there’s Gojira (1954), Jû jin yuki otoko (Half-Human, 1955) and other Japanese monsters. The 50’s gave us The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), The Abominable Snowman (1957), It the Terror from Beyond Space (1958), The Monster from Piedras Blancas (1959), and The Alligator People (1959). Then there’s King Kong (1976), Alien (1979), Humanoids from the Deep (1980), Predator (1987), the underrated Pumpkinhead (1988), and several films from 1990 to 2010. And now this latest film from The Bubble Factory and director Fred Andrews titled Creature (2011), and playing in select theaters.
In an opening scene reminiscent of Jaws (1975), Creature begins on location with a woman disrobing and taking a nude dip into the murky waters of a cypress swamp. A monstrous gator enters the water. Something attacks her from below. Was it a gator or something else?
Three bickering couples (Niles, Emily, Oscar, Karen, Randy and Beth) are on a road-trip to the Big Easy and get lost in rural Louisiana. One of the girls notices several small churches are closed. They pull over to Chopper’s gas station and curio shop (“aint got no gas”) run by Sid Haig, who plays quirky rednecks to the hilt. Numerous newspaper clippings citing a mine collapse, sink holes and swamp monster sightings hang on the wall. The guys insult the locals and laugh. The locals warn of their local ways and legends. The guys grab some Abita Beer (Abita Springs, LA) and split. They decide to check out a local swamp house. Chopper exclaims to his redneck inbred buddies, “We gonna be alright boys… Ya just gotta have faith…”
On the road, Oscar tells the swamp legend of Grimley, who committed incest, lost his bride to a giant gator, sought and killed the monster reptile and consumed human flesh. Grimley changed and mutated and became one with the alligator. He becomes Lockjaw. After some drinking, pot-smoking, a killer lesbian scene, some more sex, and a few deaths our road-tripping friends encounter the legend of Grimley (Lockjaw).
As movies of this sort go, Creature moves along at a decent pace, the story is a bit familar, but the monster delivers. On-location shooting in rural Louisiana also contributes to the eerie feel of the film. Lockjaw the swamp monster reminds me of a cross between the Spiderman villain/symbiote Carnage and It the Terror from Beyond Space. There’s a dash of The Alligator People in Lockjaw too. He sounds a bit like the Predator. I’d say the film offers one of the better-designed monster suits in recent history. The cast and acting is decent and Sid Haig’s presence certainly helps the film. He’s fun as the local hoodoo keeper of the faith.
Keep an eye out for Creature. This film reminded me of the superior Pumpkinhead (1988) with minor touches of Predator (1987). This is perfect Halloween fare and a bit of a throwback. It’s nice to see an authentic monster —not something rendered in a computer.