Creature (1985)
Creature (1985)

Genre: Sci-Fi Horror Running Time: 1 hr. 37 min.

Release Date: May 8th, 1985 MPAA Rating: R

Director: William Malone Actors: Stan Ivar, Wendy Schaal, Lyman Ward, Robert Jaffe, Diane Salinger, Annette McCarthy, Marie Laurin, Klaus Kinski

 


 

I

n the competition for new materials and advanced manufacturing techniques, two multinational corporations have invested heavily in space. The rival firms of West Germany’s Richter Dynamics and the United States’ NTI are locked in a fierce race for commercial supremacy. On Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, an NTI geological research team examines the skeletal remains of some type of creature, preserved in a capsular rock. When astronauts Howard and Ted accidentally crack the object while attempting to photograph it, they’re attacked by its otherworldly contents.

A short while later, the research team’s transport crashes into NTI’s Concorde space station, orbiting Earth’s moon. The corporation is prompted to launch an investigatory mission when no survivors are recovered from the original undertaking. The three-month venture of the Shenandoah finds a crew of unsuspecting Americans crash-landing in a crater containing the wreckage of a previous German expedition. Corporate representative David Perkins (Lyman Ward) doesn’t divulge all the information he knows, instructing only about an archeological discovery of alien origin, which upsets Captain Mike Davison (Stan Ivar) and copilot Beth Sladen (Wendy Schaal). Though Perkins’ leadership is questioned once the explorers reach the surface, he still commands Security Officer Melanie Bryce (Diane Salinger) – an expressionless woman who refused to speak to anyone during the trip – to bring heavy weaponry to the downed German craft.

“Holy shit!” The opening scene is absolutely hysterical in its setup for eventual alien scares, as characters behave insincerely and deliver lines of dialogue as if they were in a romantic comedy. This is followed by further instances of bad acting and comical deliveries as the group quarrels or as Officers Susan Delambre (Marie Laurin) and Jon Fennel (Robert Jaffe) find time to have sex – while worrying about the possibility of not returning from the sketchy job. Soon enough, mutilated bodies pop up, characters are attacked by a hulking humanoid monstrosity, and Jaffe repeats a line when he thinks his costar missed her cue. There’s also some crying and panicking to go along with irreparable damages and a quickly dwindling air supply.

“What are we up against?” asks Davison when they stumble upon a lone survivor named Hans Rudy Hofner (Klaus Kinski). “No, no I shouldn’t tell you” he responds in a supremely witty manner. How this shoddy, low-budget, extremely derivative sci-fi schlock managed to get Kinski is anybody’s guess, though he’s sorely underutilized; his lengthiest scene involves the eating of an entire sandwich (Kinski certainly excels at munching lunch) while he chats about returning to his German ship. Nevertheless, he’s far and away the most convincing actor of the bunch. While there are a couple of intriguing ideas (the best of which involves biological mind control for a collective intelligence) and one or two genuinely frightening sequences (the best of which involves biophysicist Dr. Wendy Oliver [Annette McCarthy]), the amount of stolen material drastically hurts “Creature” from being a significant work. The space station design is swiped from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” the music and lighting is ripped straight from “Alien” (though, interestingly, not from “Aliens,” which was released a year later), sound effects are snatched from “Star Wars,” and the monster itself is clearly reminiscent of H.R. Giger’s banana-headed xenomorph.

Somehow, the pacing is off, creating a few lulls between seconds of decent suspense, while strange gaps in the story cloud a few character conclusions and disrupt segues. But what the film does accomplish with surprising success is the creation of a haunting atmosphere, full of claustrophobic sets, shadowy hallways, and things jumping into frame. The gore effects are also quite amusing, highlighted by an exploding head, a skinned face, and plenty of splattered blood. Oddly, more than one chase and attack scene resembles ideas seen in “Prometheus” – made 27 years later with much greater polish. Unfortunately, here the script is so carelessly arranged and the solutions for dispatching the nemesis so hopelessly contrived (at one point, the terrible decision is made to reference another movie in the midst of this movie) that “Creature” can rarely be taken seriously. Still, as far as rip-offs go, writer/director William Malone manages a marginally effective thriller.

– Mike Massie

  • 4/10