This newest purchase is "Drive-In Movie Classics" and I'm super psyched about digging into these 50 films. My "these movies simply have to be awesome!" meter is in the red, kids. Really, how is Mama Dracula starring Louise Fletcher not going to be the best movie ever? Or Rattlers? Or Black Hooker (what is that about, I wonder)? Or Jive Turkey?
Dude, I own movies called Jive Turkey and Mama Dracula. I feel like the prettiest girl in the world!
But! Mama Drac's time will come...for today, I'm here to talk about The Creeper (1977, aka Rituals), a Canadian riff on John Boorman's Deliverance that is thisclose to being super duper.
A bunch of cranky, almost-middle-aged doctors head off into the Canadian wilderness for a bit of fishing, R&R, and male bonding over the bonfire. Someone busts out an inflatable doll at one point, and I'm not sure if it was supposed to be funny or a prelude to...shenanigans; either way, the doll is forgotten before anything happens. Regardless, the men are indeed in the middle of nowhere, miles from somewhere, and the seaplane that dropped them off won't be returning for a week. No matter! The men are happy to galavant around the woods in their matching yellow terrycloth fishing hats.
It takes no time for this idyllic getaway to get all screwed up, however; when the fellas wake up on the second day, they find that all of their boots are missing. Who the hell steals boots from campsites in the middle of Nowhere, Canada and why? One of the Dr. Campers opines that the boots were taken to...uh, I guess resell on the black market ("They're $40 a pair!") or perhaps they've all fallen victim to a "boot freak". I fell victim to a "Dr Scholl's wooden sandals freak" once in 1982, and that was unpleasant enough; I was totally relating to these guys at this point.
Fortunately, DJ (Gary Reineke) had the foresight to bring along an extra pair of shoes. While every one else stands around, he heads off to find a hydroelectric dam he spotted on the map. The thinking is, dam = people = rescue from walking barefoot in the woods. The next day, the remaining doctors find another morning surprise when they emerge from their tents: some rascal has strung up a freshly-killed deer and...err, put some snakes on it.
Everyone decides that things are getting a bit too hinky and, shoes or no shoes, they're gonna head after DJ to find Yon Dam. Unfortunately for the docs, they ain't seen hinky yet! Before they can trudge too far in their spiffy new moccasins made out of bags (moccabags? baggasins?), somebody throws bees at them! As the bees go nuts, everyone flails around and heads into the water- sadly, it seems that poor Abel (Ken James) headed in head first and...err, hit his head and...drowned. Or something. Regardless, he's dead. As the three remaining men try to figure out what to do, one of them utters the words that I so want engraved on my headstone (with a gender change, natch):
He was such a boob...such a gentle boob.Wouldn't we all like to be remembered as gentle boobs? Yes, I think we would.
Soon they find DJ's rope strung up across the river. Hooray, they're on the right track! As they cross the river, though, that pesky creeper proves he's always one step ahead: there are bear traps under the water, and poor unlucky Martin (Robin Gammell) steps on one. Harry (Hal Holbrook) and Mitzi (Lawrence Dane) (yes, "Mitzi") are then saddled with the sucky task of hauling Martin around with them- as if hiking through the Canadian wilderness wearing baggasins and enduring the creeper's antics weren't enough to deal with!
Once AGAIN, the boys wake up to a surprise; the creeper has also started leaving behind clues, like Army x-rays from 1945. Wait...x-rays? Doctors? Could they be related? Stay tuned and find out!
He hasn't just left medical documents, though, oh no. The creeper is getting really...uh, creepy! In the night, he planted
Hal Holbrook disposes of it in a delightful manner, however; seriously, there's no end to the glee I feel when someone chucks- and chucks hard- a macabre head-lollipop over a cliff. NO END I SAY.
Unfortunately, I don't think I was supposed to be feeling glee at this point...but come on. It's even better in the screen cap, because Abel now looks like a mulleted Michael Myers.
Anyway, what's left of the gang finally makes it to the dam, only to find it abandoned and decaying. Bummer! Then they find DJ tied to a chair, barely alive! Another bummer! Then Hal Holbrook gets his mercy kill on and takes care of DJ! This totally grosses out Mitzi, who decides to splitzi! Then Hal Holbrook decides to leave Martin behind since he can't carry him alone! Bummer to the tenth, y'all!
I used all those exclamation marks to add some excitement and pizazz.
Eventually, Hal Holbrook finds a cabin in the woods that looks straight outta Wrong Turn; this cabin belongs to both The Man With the World's Biggest Beard No Really It Was Fucking Huge and his brother The Creeper Or As I Like To Call Him, Good Ol' Winky McGee!
So, those x-rays and stuff? Well, Beardo says that his brother "ain't been the same since the war"- whether that means his unfortunate face is due to Army doctors or enemy fire or what, well, that's up to us to decide. Stuff happens and Hal Holbrook ends up sitting in the road as the sun rises, waiting for a car to come along, I suppose. This shot was also used on the cover of Hal's 1978 album of lite rock, "On the Road to Soft Gold".
Sadly, it only sold 956 copies. This was a blessing in disguise, for after his musical failure Hal continued to act; as we all know he went on to star in two of my favorite horror movies, Creepshow and The Fog.
Judging from other reviews, The Creeper is held in somewhat high regard amongst horror fans. I'd like to join that club, but ultimately I can't. It had a lot of the right elements but they never quite came together for me into something awesome or scary. For a superior stalker-in-the-woods flick, check out Deliverance or Wilderness. Eh, my expectations weren't too high so I wasn't too disappointed- at least it was never terrible. 49 movies to go!
To sum it up:
- The scenery was great and really added to the atmosphere. As the group fell farther and farther into despair, the setting subtly changed from lush forests to desolate, rocky cliffs, which is all, like, metaphorical and shit.
- It was nice to see a group of adults featured on screen instead of the stereotypical teens. There was a lot of talking and several of the characters were very well-drawn. Kudos for having a gay character who wasn't a joke and none of his buddies thought it was, you know, weird.
- Kookadook stalkers in the woods are pretty much always welcome no matter what.
- Again, chucking a head-lollipop over a cliff will never, ever get old. Ever. My only wish is that it had exploded upon impact.
- The film was way too dark in parts, making it impossible to see what was going on.
- Good Ol' Winky McGee was interesting, but his story wasn't realized completely.
- It didn't feel as tense to me as it should have.
- The instances when Hal Holbrook resembled some weird love child of Michael Stipe and Bill Murray *shudder*