Fantasia 2014: ‘The Creep Behind the Camera’ is akin to an ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ episode

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The Creep Behind The Camera
Written and Directed by Pete Schuermann
USA, 2014

After Tim Burton’s Ed Wood was released, Sarah Jessica Parker remarked in interviews that she had just played the worst actress of all time. Delores Fuller, Wood’s ex-wife and would-be starlet, responded, albeit quietly, merely stating, “That hurt” on a Plan 9 From Outer Space DVD.

The Creep Behind The Camera, Pete Schuermann’s docu-drama surrounding the making of 1962’s The Creeping Terror, retains as much class and care for its subjects are Parker did for Fuller. When it isn’t a straightforward documentary portrait of the swindling, scamming and whoring director A.J. Nelson did to put together a film considered one of the worst of all time, it’s using what could kindly be referred to as high-end Unsolved Mysteries re-creations.

Moving out to Hollywood to make the “best monster movie of all time,” director and star Nelson (a.k.a. Vic Savage), as played by Josh Phillips, pulls out every stop possible, including cashing in on screenwriter Stirling Siliphant’s brother-in-law for ill-gotten funds. The story jumps almost at whim between  wannabe farce and the abusive relationship between Nelson and wife Lois (Jodi Lynn Thomas).

Phillips is a caricature of a violent womanizer, popping Red Devils and leering at every female. He’s also a stone-cold whore master.  It’s a bizarre, cruel performance, as un-anchored as perhaps Nelson himself.

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The most tragic aspect is that Creep has a story well worth the telling, and could have easily made a terrific documentary about Hollywood ambition gone wrong. The details of the production are strange enough that it’s a wonder so much actual footage of it was preserved. The few interviews of the original cast and crew inserted into the film prove much more compelling than the fictional re-tellings that take up the majority of the run-time. As such, Schuermann’s film runs obscenely overlong, with the occasional sprinkling of real detail to whet the appetite as opposed to satisfying it. Without any kind of sincerity behind his camera, and instead a point-and-laugh at the carnival freaks attitude, Schuermann’s film comes off as a cruel joke.

— Kenny Hedges

Please visit the official website of the Fantasia International Film Festival.

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