The Creep Behind The Camera (2014)

Directed by: Pete Schuermann
Starring: Josh Phillips, Jodi Lynn Thomas and Bill LeVasseur
Runtime: 110 minutes
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Home Video Release by Synapse Films, September 12, 2017, Blu-ray Special Edition

In 1910, director D.W. Griffith’s silent film IN OLD CALIFORNIA became the first film made in Hollywood. Griffith decided to shoot in Hollywood because of the beautiful scenery he discovered and the friendly honest people he met there. 117 years later films are still being made in Hollywood, CA and there are still friendly honest people to be found.

THE CREEP BEHIND THE CAMERA takes place in a not so friendly Hollywood, depicting a not so honest wannabe filmmaker named Art Nelson aka Vic Savage (born Arthur Nelson White). In this film, we follow the strange but not unfamiliar story about a man wanting to get a film made. Like Tim Burton’s ED WOOD (1994), THE CREEP BEHIND THE CAMERA is a bio-pic/documentary hybrid of sorts. It follows Vic Savage closely as he manipulates money from investors and preys on women.  The film often breaks away in black and white sequences to interview those who purportedly worked on the actual film that was being made, Vic Savage’s real life directorial opus THE CREEPING TERROR (credited as A. J. Nelson).

Before we dive into THE CREEP BEHIND THE CAMERA, we need to touch on THE CREEPING TERROR (1964). It’s an extremely low budget science fiction picture in which a spacecraft crash lands on earth. A strange looking creature emerges from under the ship and creeps along the ground killing everyone in its path. Did I mention the creature is a living room carpet with teenage boys underneath it? Yup, you heard me, a living room carpet was fashioned into the monster we’re dealing with here and it’s absolutely AMAZING.

Vic Savage arrives in Hollywood, quickly finding himself in charge of producing a monster movie. Like many low-budget filmmakers of the time, Savage gets a small amount of financing and then proceeds to make a movie . . . sort of. As depicted in the picture, Savage spends a lot of the cash on himself. He quickly buys a white leisure suite and matches it with a bright blue scarf. Then he’s off to bars and parties looking for people to be in his movie. Let me correct myself, he’s looking for gullible actresses willing to pay him to be in his movie. This is how the film portrays Savage. He’s a low-life leech pretending to be something he’s not.

I have no idea if Savage was really this way. There’s not a lot of historical information about him on the Internet and he basically disappeared before THE CREEPING TERROR was completed.

Regarding THE CREEP BEHIND THE CAMERA and its production, I rather enjoyed the picture regardless of how Savage was portrayed. It’s well directed and produced, but it runs a tad too long for my taste. I can’t put myself into the director’s chair, but if I could, I’d trim about 10-minutes of fat off this one. You’d still get the whole story. I wasn’t going to compare this to Burton’s ED WOOD but it is hard to avoid given both films feel so similar. The big difference between ED WOOD and THE CREEP BEHIND THE CAMERA is the leading men. Johnny Depp plays Wood like an earnest lovable loser and Josh Phillips portrays Savage as a complete asshole (and quite convincingly I might add). I really hated Savage by the time the film came to an end, feeling he got what he deserved. Hats off to Phillips for his amazing performance in the role of Vic Savage. It’s outstanding to a fault, if not a bit over the top.

About the Synapse Films Release:
The Synapse Films Blu-ray delivers a very good looking release with a bevy of extras.  THE CREEP BEHIND THE CAMERA is presented in High-Definition 1080p with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio.  The image is sharp, colors pop, and sound richly supports the various moods of the film. I’ll not go in-depth on every extra, but here’s a list of what you get.

  • All-New 2K Scan of the Original Horror Classic, THE CREEPING TERROR (Blu-ray Exclusive), presented in High-Definition 1080p with a 1.33:1 aspect ratio
  • Audio Commentary with Director Pete Schuermann, Producer Nancy Theken and Stars Josh Phillips & Jodi Lynn Thomas
  • How to Build a Carpet Monster
  • Breaking Down Art’s Death Scene
  • Monster Movie Homages
  • “One Mick to Another” with Byrd Holland & Allan Silliphant
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Alternate Ending
  • Screamfest Black Carpet Q&A with Frank Conniff
  • The Creep Behind The Camera Original Theatrical Trailer
  • The Creeping Terror Screamfest Promotional Trailer

I did watch every extra on the disc and fully enjoyed them. For me, there were two highlights worth calling out:

  • How to Build a Carpet Monster is a recreation of the carpet monster. The FX crew handles this brilliantly and by the time they’re done, you’d think they pulled the original monster from THE CREEPING TERROR out of storage.
  • The new 2K scan of the original 1964 film, THE CREEPING TERROR looks amazing and is worth the price of the disc itself. The film didn’t get a full restoration but the scan provides the best looking print to date. Throw away those lousy old Mill Creek copies because there’s a new living room carpet in town.

Final Thoughts:
Despite having heard mixed reviews about THE CREEP BEHIND THE CAMERA, I really enjoyed it. The only issues I have with the film is the runtime and the over the top performance by Josh Phillips. Setting those things aside, I think the total package delivered by Synapse’s Blu-ray release is well worth your time and money.  The Blu-ray is currently available for $14.99 on Amazon as is a Synapse DVD release of the main film without the bonus feature of THE CREEPING TERROR that is exclusive to the Blu-ray.

Contributed by: Mike Murphy