Just when I thought it was safe to go back to the theater…
Earlier this year I regaled you with the tale of how DYLAN DOG: DEAD OF NIGHT (2010) bombed in 18th place its opening weekend. I was immediately drawn to it like a chick to a bad boy. “Nothing can top that abysmal opening,” I said confidently. And then came along CREATURE. I only found out about this swamp monster flick a week or so before it came out thanks to some annoying flash ads on horror news sites. “Okay,” I thought, “they are probably getting this in a few hundreds theaters.” Nope, The Bubble Factory managed to get this bad boy into over 1,500 theaters. It still didn’t interest me though as the trailer made it look like every other bad modern horror movie.
But then something magical happened: the weekend box office figures came out. CREATURE had broken box office records…well, the bad kind of box office records. The film came in 29th place this past weekend. It bombed so bad that Yahoo.com had it up as the lead news story for a bit on Monday, September 12. How bad were the numbers? The film raked in a measly $327,000 over the weekend with a per screen average of $217. As the Yahoo article imaginatively put it, that amount “is about what one row of moviegoers spent on popcorn for the last HARRY POTTER movie.” It was officially the worst wide opening for a movie EVER! Once again my bad movie junkie craving kicked in and soon I was off to see if CREATURE really does have teeth. Like I’ve always said, it will make a good story for the grandkids. Whose grandkids? I still haven’t figured out.
CREATURE opens with a bang with a scene of a woman stripping down and going skinny dipping in the swamp. An unseen monster then takes a bite out of her while she splashes around in the water. Well, at least I know debuting director Fred Andrews has seen JAWS (1975). Actually he one ups Spielberg by having the victim crawl out of the water and the camera cranes up to reveal she has no legs. BAM! CREATURE does have teeth and this is fixing to be good. What I didn’t know that Andrews was working opposite of the idea of saving the best for last. Like many films before it, the film proper gets rolling with a six twentysomethings out to have a good time. We have siblings Oscar (Dillon Casey) and Karen (Lauren Schneider), Randy the Marine (Aaron Hill) and his girlfriend Beth (Amanda Fuller), and Randy’s sister Emily (Serinda Swan) and her new boyfriend Niles (Mehcad Brooks), an ex-Navy Seal. Traveling through the back roads of Louisiana on their way to the Big Easy, the group stops at a gas station (“We ain’t got no gas”) run by Chopper (Sid Haig). Oscar is immediately entranced by a cheapjack display on the local monster legend Lock-Jaw and the creepy locals tell him of the nearby house belonging to the man-monster.
With some quick convincing, he gets the group to agree to check out the old house associated with the legend (“You know I love this kind of shit,” opines Karen). On the way, Oscar fills them in on the story of Lock-Jaw and let’s just say it ain’t the trismus kind (thank you, Wikipedia). Seems back in the 19th century swamp living Grimley (Daniel Bernhardt…yes, the guy from the BLOODSPORT sequels) was the last of his line and all set to bear a child with his kid sister. Ewww. But the incestuous “I do” got postponed when the bride was eaten by an albino alligator. So, as the legend has it, Grimley tracked this beast to its underground cave and killed it. Distraught, he remained in this grotto and gorged himself on the human flesh lying about. Somehow this transformed into a half-man, half-alligator.