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Creature Blu-ray Review

Written by Robert Gold

Blu-ray released by Vinegar Syndrome

Creature Large

Directed by William Malone
Written by William Malone and Alan Reed
1985, 95 minutes, Rated R
Released on January 25th, 2022

Stan Ivar as Mike Davison
Wendy Schaal as Beth Sladen
Lyman Ward as David Perkins
Robert Jaffe as Jon Fennel
Diane Salinger as Melanie Bryce
Annette McCarthy as Dr. Wendy Oliver
Klaus Kinski as Hans Rudy Hofner

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The crew aboard the archaeological research vessel Shenandoah is searching for precious manufacturing materials on Saturn’s Titan moon. They spot a rival German craft in a crater on the surface and set down to investigate. The ground beneath the ship is unstable and collapses, leaving them stranded. They head over to ask the Germans for help but that ship appears abandoned. One of the Americans discovers corpses and as she runs for help is pursued and killed in front of her teammates by a deadly alien. The others race back to the Shenandoah where they are met by Hans Hofner, who says he is the sole survivor of the German expedition. He tells them the alien uses mind control and other forms of manipulation. When their ship suddenly runs low on air, the crew must return to the alien-infested craft to survive – but for how long?

Ridley Scott’s sensational classic Alien (1979) left an indelible mark on Hollywood and spawned countless imitations. Itself inspired by Mario Bava’s Planet of the Vampires (1965), Alien set the bar for years to come. 1985’s Creature (aka Titan Find) borrows from both Alien and Vampires as well as earlier fare like Forbidden Planet (1956), and to a much greater extent, The Thing (1951). The film is capably directed by William Malone (House on Haunted Hill, 1999) working from a script he co-wrote with Alan Reed, and delivers a number of decent scares and some quality suspense. We don’t get to know the characters very well before they are thrown into the mix – or after for that matter – but we know who to root for.

Creature has a number of things working for it, starting with the monster. The alien is hidden in the shadows for a decent amount of time before the big reveal, which is satisfyingly creepy. Special effects are handled by genre veterans Doug Beswick (Darkman, Ticks) and Michael McCracken (Silver Bullet, Leviathan), and the cinematography by Harry Mathias (Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge) belies the picture’s low budget constraints, delivering an atmospheric world that feels much larger than it is. The film plays like a haunted house movie in space, an idea that was revisited more than a decade later with the much glossier Event Horizon (1998).

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The cast does a fine job led by Stan Ivar (Little House on the Prairie) as Captain Mike Davison, Wendy Schaal (Innerspace, The ‘Burbs) as Beth Sladen and Ferris Bueller’s dad, Lyman Ward, as corporate boss David Perkins. The three carry the picture through most of its tense moments, working together to avoid the monster and plot their escape. Low-budget pictures will often cast a marquee name to boost ticket sales and the producers take the gamble of bringing in the notoriously difficult but always watchable Klaus Kinski (Crawlspace) as Hans Hofner, sole survivor of the German expedition. Kinski delivers a surprisingly restrained performance, coming off as well…normal, which is quite interesting considering the batshit stories surrounding the actor.

Supporting players include Robert Jaffe (The Mechanic) as Jon Fennel, a crew member who faces the alien early on but returns seemingly unharmed. Horror fans may recognize Jaffe as the writer/producer of Motel Hell. Diane Salinger (Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure) plays the icy security chief Melanie Bryce, who would appear most qualified to fight an alien but disappears for much of the third act. On a side note, Salinger appears in the Kinski documentary Creation is Violent sharing entertaining stories of what she endured working with the actor on this production. It’s not included on this disc, but it appears on Nosferatu in Venice and is worth checking out. Rounding out the cast are Annette McCarthy (Twin Peaks) and Marie Laurin (Burial of the Rats) as Dr. Wendy Oliver and Susan Delambre respectively.

I remember being lured to this movie back in the day by its memorable VHS cover art that stood out on the shelves. If you are looking for a cheesy horror-sci/fi hybrid that doesn’t rely too heavily on science facts, then Creature might just be the film for you. It’s got some decent blood and a little bit of nudity and best of all a cool-looking monster with a taste for brains! In some regards the film is ahead of its time when, for example, predicting the prominence of corporations in space exploration. As an added bonus, Vinegar Syndrome includes the slightly longer Director’s Cut titled Titan Moon that runs about four minutes longer, adding some scene extensions and a little more gore. As far as Alien-inspired low-budget knockoffs go, this is one of the better ones that make for a good time on a Friday night with friends.

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Video and Audio:

Presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio and receiving a 4K scan of the original camera negative, picture quality has never been stronger or more satisfying as the film makes the jump to HD. This Blu-ray goes a long way in erasing the unpleasant memories of all previous releases that appear murky and washed out. Colors find new life and really pop while black levels are rock-solid. Contrast levels are greatly improved and there is an even level of grain throughout. This is the best the movie is likely to look for the foreseeable future.

A DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo track preserves the original audio mix offering a few directional sound effects. Dialogue levels are clean and always understandable and music cues are well-balanced. Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.

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Special Features:

The audio commentary from the gang at The Hysteria Continues is something of a mixed bag. It starts off strongly enough with the expected production stories, cast and crew bios, anecdotes about the director and the reading of some harsh reviews, but when it comes to juicy Klaus Kinski stories, they are all crudely cut out, leaving annoying gaps of silence until the good parts are over and the track resumes. Most discs open with a disclaimer regarding viewpoints of participants in interviews or commentaries therein, but apparently Vinegar Syndrome felt the need to self-edit.

Finding Titan: The Making of Creature (2022, 21 minutes) catches up with a number of cast members who share their memories of the production. Lyman Ward and Stan Iver appear via video conference while Diane Salinger, Marie Laurin and creature coordinator/miniature artist Doug Beswick all appear in person. A wide range of topics, including the casting process, filming in the extreme heat, the special effects and praise for director Malone are covered and everyone remembers the film fondly.

William Malone appears in the interview segment Space on a Budget (2022, 16 minutes) in which he discusses early influences on the film and working within budgetary restrictions. He has kind words for his cast and crew, especially the f/x team and remembers this as a difficult shoot filled with long hours and extreme heat. He shares a funny story about his cinematographer and talks about the post-production process and title change. He takes the high road and never mentions the late Kinski, with whom he reportedly did not get along at all.

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Overall: 3.5 Star Rating

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About The Author
Robert Gold
Author: Robert Gold
Staff Reviewer - USA
Robert's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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