Creepies – 2004

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Genetically engineered killer spiders are released from a government laboratory, they kill people by eating them from the inside out.

Honour where honour’s due.

CREEPIES has got to be the most impressive movie I’ve seen in quite some time. Why, I hear you asking? Plain and simple: because it’s almost unbelievable what director Jeff Leroy has achieved with an extremely limited amount of money. CREEPIES’ ultra-low budget is supposed to be US$ 20,000 I read somewhere else (don’t know if this is really true though).

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Don’t get me wrong! I mostly enjoy all those big-budget hundred-million-dollar Hollywood blockbusters too, but what Jeff Leroy has put on the screen with a laughable budget impresses me more than all those Michael Bay/George Lucas/Steven Spielberg/Roland Emmerich event movies put together. Besides, in stark contrast to most mainstream films that lack soul, B-movies like CREEPIES have the heart at their right place, and they are literally bursting with something that money just can’t buy: charm!

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The general plot of CREEPIES is clearly inspired by Dan O’Bannon’s fun-classic THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD: scientists who tried to create the ultimate weapon dispose of their rather unsuccessful experiments in small containers from which they promptly manage to escape and attack Los Angeles. While the bad-tempered spiders (that even communicate among each other in one hair-raisingly funny scene) attack the helpless citizens and prowl the city the military goes into full action and sets in ruins all that comes by their telescopic sight: the commanding officer doesn’t seem to be bothered by the fact that they don’t manage to hit the rioting gigantic spider… seems one has to reckon with collateral damage in such a case.

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Spiders are running through the streets and attack people, buildings, cars, even whole streets are exploding, tanks are rolling around, helicopters are firing from all guns… just to point out the proportions: if this film was made in Hollywood it would have cost, at least, 150 million dollars. B-movie maverick Jeff Leroy made it for approx. 20,000 dollars. In other words: for one big budget Hollywood blockbuster, B-movie directors like Jeff Leroy could make about 7,500 films! Quite stunning, ain’t it?

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However dirt-cheap CREEPIES is, the entertainment value certainly does not suffer from that. The many spiders may be for the most part from the computer (I’m not really sure in some cases though)… the L. A. and Hollywood of the flick is definitely not. The film makers built and/or organized countless miniature buildings, streets and cars, only to have them spectacularly destroyed in the course of the movie (even screaming dummies are flying through the air). Indeed, Leroy manages to resurrect the brilliant-trashy Godzilla feeling of the 1960s and 1970s, when he rages in his toy-land like all those gigantic Japanese monsters in their heydays. You can even marvel at a fantastic atomic explosion! Okay, I admit it: I’m crazy ’bout miniatures, and CREEPIES is filled to the brim with them.

In contrast to those wonderful Kaiju Eiga spectacles Leroy doesn’t shy away from some astonishing bloodshed. A man shoots his own head off like Bobby Peru in WILD AT HEART, and another guy (who was bitten by a spider) scratches his whole face off. The cast is fine for this kind of movie (Phoebe Dollar is always awesome); they certainly will never win an academy award, but they are a joy to watch and seem to have invested a lot of enthusiasm in the making of the movie. Look out for a cameo by ‘the Hedgehog’ in person, Ron Jeremy.

CREEPIES can’t (and doesn’t want to) compete with Hollywood product like the excellent EIGHT-LEGGED FREAKS. But it’s a great flick in its own right, immensely entertaining, chock full of fun and trash situations, the protagonists are sympathetic, and the countless special effects (obviously made with imagination, enthusiasm and love) are truly bursting with charm. No doubt about it, most mainstream film fans will scream loudly that this has got to be the worst movie ever made. Well, let them think they are right and let them live happily in their small brainwashed-by-Hollywood dream world. True B-movie aficionados will know at once what a great achievement CREEPIES really is.

Seems that the B-movie industry beyond Hollywood is alive and kicking. CREEPIES proves this most impressively. Buy it and see for yourself.

Oh, one more thing: Mr. Leroy, please keep on making movies. There are a lot of people out there who love the films you make. I know it. 

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