Keith Palmer (krpalmer) wrote,
Keith Palmer

MST3K 606: The Creeping Terror

In continuing to rewatch episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000, I've again been progressing through its seasons one at a time. I had a somewhat closer end goal in sight this time, though, and it's one of my personal favourite episodes. I suppose I don't laugh easily, but when I first watched "The Creeping Terror," it snuck up on me and caught me all at once.

What may have helped with that is that in advance of actually seeing most of the show's the episodes, I had a copy of its "official episode guide" and was in a sense anticipating something egregious about each of them, whether it be "Santa Claus conquering the Martians," "monsters made by attaching carpet remnants and fake fangs to ordinary dogs," or "gorilla with a diving helmet on". I knew there would be a "creeping terror" in "The Creeping Terror," but I wasn't prepared for just how shoddy both it and the movie itself would be.

I'm a little fond of identifying general trends and eras in the Mystery Science Theater "canon," be they the more or less competent yet dated science fiction films of the fifties, the imports daffy for being dubbed, the sleazy yet televisable exploitation films of the sixties, the pointlessly bleak films of the seventies, or the incredibly cheap ripoffs of the eighties. There's at least one more category to mention, though, and that's a certain grouping of films from the sixties, meant to be genre works but made when people seemed to have stopped caring about the quality of what went on the bottom of the bill. Some seem to find many of the movies in this category a little too terrible to watch even in Mystery Science Theater form, but I somehow just love them. They include such harrowing classics as "Manos: Hands of Fate" and "Monster A Go-Go"... and I wasn't expecting "The Creeping Terror" to be one of them, but it was. It's poorly photographed, and most of the sound was apparently lost during production, leaving a deadpan narrator to inform us of what's happening in the discussions. This gives plenty of room for the "riffing," and an obvious target to imitate along the way. Then, there's the Creeping Terror itself. It's a giant lumpy mass that arrives in stock footage of an Atlas missile test run backwards, exactly the sort of thing you could make by throwing a big rubbery blanket over a group of people lumbering forward in unison, with a fringed head sticking up in front with eyes on plastic stalks and two pathetic sock-like flailing limbs that seem to go over the arms of the person in front. It succeeds in creeping up very slowly on people who don't manage to spot it (some of them, to be sure, are distracted by an endless dance scene) until it's also time for them to half-crawl into its maw. To make things even better, there's a bleak and ambiguous conclusion. I remember gushing about all of it on a MSTing message board that's unfortunately now vanished into the ether.
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