(Link to Andrew’s review at the end of this article.)
Plan 9 From Outer Space is widely recognized as holding the title of Worst Movie of All Time. There really isn’t such a thing, of course. No more than Citizen Kane is the ‘best’ movie ever. People love ranking things, however. Under the imperatives created by this impulse, these films have been awarded those titles by dint of a loosely recognized general consensus.
Still, even in terms of being the worst, most inept sci-fi cheapie ever, Plan 9 is merely a particularly strong contender. I’m not asserting that it’s unworthy of the title. That would be foolhardy, given all that it brings to the table. Yet there are at least a few legitimate rivals for the crown. Robot Monster is one. The Creeping Terror is another.
As with The Beast of Yucca Flats, another closet challenger, The Creeping Terror’s most manifest quirk is that it mostly features narration in lieu of dialog. In terms of sheer pretension, our current subject can’t match Beast’s blatherings about Man being ground up by Science and the Wheel of Progress and such. Even so, Creeping Terror’s narrative musings are of an often hilariously florid nature.
The film’s other claim to fame is a monster fully the equal of such yuk-inducing beasties as Ro-Man and the Giant Claw. More on this later.
Notably, the films I nominate above as being the worst of the worst were in each case the product of one man’s vision. Plan 9, obviously, is the baby of Ed Wood, who produced, wrote, directed and edited the film. Phil Tucker produced and directed Robot Monster, and I’d guess probably provided a majority of its more risible dialog. Beast of Yucca Flats was produced, written, directed, narrated and edited by Coleman Francis. Meanwhile, Arthur Nelson, both under that name and as ‘Vic Savage,’ produced, directed, edited and played the lead character in The Creeping Terror.
Our Feature Presentation begins with the opening credits. These appear over what looks to be a Spirograph design executed by someone with severe arthritis. Our film is, we learn, a Metropolitan International Picture. A moniker that, upon reflection, seems sort of internally incongruous. (Of course, so were Universal International and American International, if one’s to force the issue.) The sequence is accompanied by the film’s cartoony theme music, an insistent piece we’ll be hearing quite a lot of over the next hour and sixteen minutes.
The film proper, such as it is, opens as we travel down a nighttime roadway. One of the film’s few attempts at an arty shot, this is seen from a driver’s perspective. Headlights illuminate (sorta) the way before us. We soon ditch this first-person perspective, however, and cut to the car’s occupants. The driver clasps the steering wheel with one hand. His other arm holds close a fetching young lady. He yawns, and they actually bother to loop in a matching sound and even some preliminary dialog. From this we glean that they’ve been driving all night and that dawn is approaching.
Given the ’60s Godzilla-movie quality of the lip-syncing, you can see why they opted for narration. And so the Omniscient Narrator, or ON, makes his introduction while the two silently flap their lips at one another. “This man’s name is Martin Gordon,” ON intones. “The lovely girl beside him is Brett, his bride of two wonderful weeks.” Newlyweds, huh? Well, that explains why Martin’s yawning.
“It’s late August,” ON continues, relaying what is undoubtedly an essential piece of information. Sadly, he fails to reveal other, similarly relevant details. What make of car is Martin driving? Who does Brett’s hair? Are they Episcopalians? Do they enjoy big band music? Is Martin’s shirt a cotton blend? These topics remain but tantalizing enigmas.
“They’re returning from their honeymoon to their home in quiet, peaceful Angel County, California,” ON observes. “Martin’s uncle Ben is Sheriff of Angel County, and Martin is his senior deputy. Martin has high hopes of succeeding his uncle when Ben retires. But for now, Martin has only the thoughts, emotions and pride of a very happy, newly-married young man.” Did I mention the narrator really likes saying the word ‘Martin’? “Brett is his,” this fascinating dissertation concludes, “and he feels that no man could ask for more.”
“Now, without warning,” ON segues, “their honeymoon was to become a nightmare.” Yes, it’s called ‘marriage.’ (Thank you, ladies and germs, I’m here all week.)
Oh, wait, that’s not what he meant. For we now witness one of Filmdom’s less successful special effect sequences. Our story involves a spacecraft landing nearby, and so we cut to a star field. Unfortunately, financial limitations apparently precluded utilizing the inordinately expensive ‘Christmas lights sticking through a black sheet’ technique long favored by other such films. The innovative approach employed instead was to shoot a cluster of regular streetlights out of focus. The blurry results can, kinda-sorta, be interpreted as really big indistinct stars.
This bold directorial flourish might have been more effective were it not for the two blurry lights traveling in tandem across a horizontal plane. This tends to identify them as being a pair of headlights. Moreover, as the vehicle moves past a collection of similarly fuzzy, er, stars, its vaguely silhouetted shape suggests it to be a truck rather than a rocket ship.
Apparently even the estimable Arthur Nelson decided this was inadequate to suggest the landing of a spaceship. Therefore we return to more traditional techniques by cutting in stock footage of a V-1 rocket lifting off. This footage is then run backwards (!!) so as to *cough, cough* suggest the craft is coming down rather than rising. As you might suspect, the resultant illusion is less than seamless.
“Neither Martin nor Brett saw the glowing rocket descend in the early morning sky,” we’re told. Cut to a stock shot of a municipal office complex. “It was reported to the Sheriff’s Office by Jeff, the county forest ranger.” Sure enough, we cut inside to *ahem* the Sheriff’s office. This set is cunningly realized by dressing the rear wall with three wanted posters.
Sheriff Ben is on the phone, presumably receiving the aforementioned call. His rank is indicated by the three downwards-pointing stripes sewn on each sleeve of his uniform blouse. Apparently a county sheriff is directly equivalent to a sergeant (E-5) in the U.S. Army. Also in attendance is junior deputy Barney. (No, not that Deputy Barney). The latter is kicking back and lighting up a cigarette. That’s right, inside a building. A public building. Truly is the Past another country.
As Ben organizes the official response to what is assumed to be a plane crash, we cut to the landing site. B-movie veterans will be less than startled to learn that the film’s rather large, banana-shaped prop spaceship in no way matches the descending rocket we saw a few moments ago. In any case, an awkward hatch opens up. Out scoots the film’s monster, making its appearance a mere four minutes into things. (Well, you can’t accuse the film of being coy.) This is shot from various angles, including one that indicates the cameraman climbed into the upper branches of a tree in pursuit of the shot.
The creature in Creeping Terror is legendary to aficionados of cinematic schlock. Basically, the design has two main sections. Imaging a letter ‘L’ that’s fallen onto its back. The front of the costume is perhaps seven feet tall and stands upright, allowing for a man to walk along within it and fitfully steer the beast. This fellow wears shapeless boots to help disguised his feet when they inevitably peek out from under the contraption’s skirt. Down near the bottom of the costume’s front is a large hole for actors to wriggle through when the monster consumes them later. The upper front, meanwhile, is arrayed with dangling and swaying black tube-like affairs, lending the beast a rakish Rastafarian aspect.
The rear length of the beastie, which trails behind like a massive dress train, is most often described as a heap of sewn together carpet remnants. And, actually, that pretty much sums it up. The aft section is propelled through the efforts of a number of unfortunate shufflers who presumably marched along whilst bent over at the waist. As you can imagine, this arrangement results in locomotion best described as lumbering and awkward. And sore backs were probably just the half of it. Given that the film was shot around Lake Tahoe, Nevada, one can only imagine how sweltering it was for the poor bastards shambling along under this thing.
As a final touch, the monster often emits a series of lion roars (!). These are augmented during attack sequences by somebody providing goofy monster-y blahlahlahlah sounds. This, as you’d expect, quickly grows both tiresome and unremittingly hilarious. The beast’s appearances are generally also accompanied by obnoxiously discordant xylophone music. Now, it would be unfair to say this sounds like the result of such an instrument being played by a cat. It’s more like hearing a xylophone being played with a cat.
As Ben’s squad car nears the remote crash site, siren wailing (?), Martin and Brett approach from the other direction. The two vehicles meet up and Ben tells the two to park and jump into his car. This done, they quickly arrive at the scene. There they see Jeff’s truck, although no sign of the ranger himself is evident. Climbing out, the trio stares at the ship.
Apparently aware of the thespic limitations of the cast, ON wisely fills us in. “They looked at the rocket in utter amazement,” he explains. Ah, that’s what those blank expressions denote: Amazement. Check. Actor Vic Savage (aka Arthur Nelson), meanwhile, further suggests Martin’s bafflement by standing really straight and hunching his shoulders way up. The result is a man who appears to be suffering from a severe case of butt rash.
They muse on the nature of the craft, as it’s clearly not a plane. Martin suggests it might be one of the Army’s missiles gone awry. Brett responds, “Or one of their’s.” Moving forward, they find Jeff’s hat on the ground beside the rocket. Ben sends Martin to grab a flashlight from the squad car, intending to enter the craft and conduct a search. Conveniently, there’s an open section of the rocket to provide entry, although it’s low enough the actors have to lie down and shimmy their way in.
Actually, I’m not sure what the deal is here. When the monster left the ship earlier, it used a big hatch in the side of the ship. From here on, though, it appears the filmmakers had to stop using it. [Unless they filmed that last and only cut the door in at that point.] Therefore, whenever a character is supposed to enter or exit the ship, they merely crawl under it—the whole smear has been raised a foot or two off the ground—and then just we cut to them in the ship’s ‘interior.’
Anyway, Ben wriggles inside as Martin and Brett nervously wait. Suddenly screams and gunshots are heard, along with the aforementioned lion roars. A severe close-up of Martin records his rather low-key reaction to the sheriff’s apparent straits. Martin makes to intercede, but Brett pulls him back. They instead shuffle off to the squad car to radio for help. Considering the horrendous pained shrieks that continue to emanate from the vessel, this does little to furbish Martin’s Action Hero credentials. Especially since Ben’s not only Martin’s boss, he’s his uncle.
We cut to what is patently a beaten up old farm truck. Oops, guess I’m wrong. It has U.S. ARMY painted on the side, and you can’t argue with that. It’s approaching the scene with some soldiers riding in the cargo bed. “Within the hour,” ON explains, “Martin’s unusual call for assistance was answered by a special unit led by a Col. James Caldwell.”
Perhaps the unit is considered ‘special’ because Colonels usually don’t personally oversee groups consisting of a Sergeant and five grunts. In a bit meant to demonstrate their crack military precision, a small log blocking the road is removed at the Sergeant’s direction. This blistering action sequence is accompanied by the repetitive drum riff that, with occasional horns, comprises the film’s military theme music.
They arrive at the landing site. Where, to my amusement, there’s no trace of Martin or Brett. Maybe they got bored and left. It is, after all, almost an hour since they heard Ben’s agonized shrieks. Col. Caldwell, not one to husband his forces when decisive action is required, boldly sends a full third of his manpower into the craft to investigate. In fact, his orders are even bolder than that, since one of the two men is his non-com. Splurging a little, they actually dub in some dialog here. Still, I couldn’t help noticing that two men are heard to be speaking while only one of them actually moves his lips.
We cut inside the ship as the soldiers’ flashlights reveal various banks of equipment. Oddly, these are configured like stuff we humans would have used circa, oh, the mid-’60s. Especially odd are the numerous gauges (all exhibiting the same numerals we use on this planet—how odd!), since the carpet monster had no apparent eyes, and the various toggle switches, dials and buttons, as the creature definitely has no limbs. Looking further, the men come across a second carpet monster. Luckily, this is securely strapped in place with what appear to be strips of corrugated aluminum. Thus they are able to make it safely outside.
(I know, I know. How did Jeff and Ben meet their deaths? Yes, we saw the first carpet monster leave the ship directly after it landed. And yes again, the other is strapped to a wall and unable to move. Go figure. Just one of life’s little mysteries, I reckon.)
Back outside, a report is made to Caldwell, the gist of which is conveyed through narration. ON attempts to explain Ben and Jeff’s fate by noting the Sergeant’s assertion that “[the secured carpet monster] could still move around somewhat.” Uh, OK. Whatever. Considering how ponderous these things are when totally unencumbered, I find this less than fully enlightening. But what are you going to do? The Colonel listens and then “orders continuous guard duty around the ship.” Yeah, you’d think. I’d probably also call in for more men, but maybe I’m just a worrywart. Also, Caldwell intends to establish his “temporary military headquarters” at the Sheriff’s office.
The next day finds him consulting with Martin. The latter now being, thanks to his substantial personal cowardice, the county’s chief law enforcement officer. Caldwell, meanwhile, has received orders from “the highest possible authority” to hold tight and await renowned scientist Dr. Bradford. This fellow, once he arrives, will “take complete charge of the operation.” This seems a bit irregular, but then Bradford is the “world’s lead authority on space emissions.” Yes, there’s a joke there, but I’ve not five years old.
You’d think they’d match the narration to what we see on the screen, but it’s not always so. For instance, we cut to a close-up of Martin’s rather blasÃ© and vacuous expression just as ON asserts, “[He] was outraged by the government’s intellectual approach to a monster that had already killed and caused the disappearance of his two close friends.” Assuming this is true, Martin’s got a hell of a poker face. Anyway, it wasn’t the government who went and sat in the car as his uncle was being slowly consumed by a barely ambulatory area rug. Anyway, Caldwell agrees with Martin’s take on the situation. This, naturally, sets up the inevitable Military vs. Scientific conflict once Bradford arrives.
“Martin was appointed temporary Sheriff,” ON explains. (I didn’t know the federal government had the authority to appoint county sheriffs, but there you go.) Meanwhile, news of the situation, including the deaths, is to be suppressed for the present. To further this objective, “all news intended for public consumption was to emanate from [the Sheriff’s] office.” Yes, that’ll certainly fail to attract press scrutiny.
We cut to a picnic, near which a half-dressed couple is laying on a blanket and making out. “In a remote section of the county,” ON intones, “the first in a series of tragedies took place. Tragedies that would have been avoided had the public been warned.” In what will be a recurring motif of the attack sequences, the towering monster is seen slowly and awkwardly shuffling towards its prospective victims while roaring like a lion. Despite the vast amount of time this takes, even when the filmmakers cheat about it, nobody ever seems to notice the beastie until it’s right upon them. Of course, if they saw it when they should it’d never catch anybody. This being the sort of beastie one could escape by affecting a normal walking pace in the other direction.
The girl sees it first, reacting with the standard pushing-at-the-horny-boyfriend bit. Meanwhile, we’ve cut to a monster POV. This, per tradition, allows the creature to move much more quickly than it ever does while on camera. Despite this, the two still have plenty of time to escape. The carpet monster’s rate of travel makes such other dawdling menaces as Ro-Man and Tabanga look like Jesse Owens. This thus necessitates its victims to remain frozen in place until such a time that the creature can finally happen upon them.
Actually, to be fair, the boyfriend takes advantage of the thirty seconds or so he has to take off. (Bravery will not be the primary trait exhibited by the menfolk in this picture.) The woman, however, patiently awaits her fate. Here we’re treated to what will become another familiar sight. Basically, given the monster costume’s construction, there’s no real way for it to grab onto its victims. Therefore, the hapless actors must more or less toss themselves into the creature’s gaping maw and then wiggle their way into its gullet.
The apparent reason this first victim has been put into a bathing suit is so that the camera can focus on her jiggling, bikini-clad butt as she’s ‘consumed’ by the monster. Such shots will be a recurring facet of our photoplay, interspersed with the occasional frontal crotch shot for a little variety. (At least when the victims are female, that is. Guys tend to disappear with much less detailed observation.) The women always thoughtfully climb into the monster head first, so as to facilitate this. Meanwhile, their terror is conveyed by a continuous loop of one particular scream, heard over and over again with each female victim. This remains clearly audible even when said person is nearly wholly within the creature’s gorge.
We cut to Martin, who’s standing inside the ship. He looks about in confusion—I think, anyway, as ‘confusion’ is pretty much his default facial expression—as various sounds begin to emanate from the craft’s instruments. He exits and joins Brett and Barney outside. The latter is to put an item in the local paper that Ben and Jeff have gone fishing in British Columbia. (Uh, OK.)
This information is conveyed by narration, as is the following: “Despite Brett’s inquiries about what Martin had seen on the spacecraft, he avoided specific details, for fear of disturbing her more than she was. If the truth were known, Martin was more than a little disturbed himself.” Yeah, I remember when a space monster ate my uncle. I had pretty much the same reaction. The difference being you could tell so from looking at my face.
A car pulls up. “Shortly thereafter [I’d say, this happens two seconds after the above narration],” ON explains, “Dr. Bradford arrived. He was a much younger man than one would imagine.” Uh, OK. Yeah, he only looks to be about in his mid-’30s. Who’d thought? Colonel Caldwell makes the introductions, and they all display their amazing skills at ventriloquism. Or so I guess, anyway, since the voices we hear seldom correspond to the person seen talking at that moment.
Bradford takes Our Hero aside to question him. “Martin did his best to recall every precise detail,” ON relates. (“â€¦and that’s when I scampered off like a Frenchman.”) I’m not sure what originally transpired in this scene, but Bradford is seen laughing at some remark of Martin’s. Given the chain of events so far, I’m not sure what exact detail merited his guffaws.
Boldly breaking new ground for a scientist character in a sci-fi film, Bradford turns out to be unable to see the bacterial culture for the single-celled organism. “From his discussion
That evening we cut to Brett washing dishes in her kitchen. On the radio we hear a rendition of “Hold That Tiger” (or something pretty darn close). This particular tune will be repeated ad nauseam later in the film. Meanwhile, Martin and Barney pull up outside. Martin leaves the latter in the living room and sneaks into the kitchen. He surprises Brett from behind and they begin making out in a fashion that does indeed suggest a couple of newlyweds.
This aspect of the character will easily be the focus of Savage’s best ‘acting’ in the movie. And no wonder, the girl playing Brett is pretty hot. According the Medveds’ report on the film’s production in the invaluable Hollywood Hall of Shame, actress O’Neil was indeed Savage/Nelson’s, er, girlfriend. Witnesses to the production also indicate that she may not strictly have been of age.
Adding much to the film’s Inadvertent Humor Quotient factor is that this huggermugger goes on at some length, intercut with shots of a fidgety looking Barney sitting out on the sofa. Eventually he loudly clears his throat, and Brett at least looks a bit embarrassed upon realizing they have a guest. Barney requests a Bourbon & 7. I’m not a drinker, but I do know my friend Andrew Muchoney was fairly aghast upon hearing this request. (On the other hand, he generally likes his liquor straight.)
Martin brings Barney his drink and exhorts the benefits of marriage. This sets up the film’s most infamous stretch of narration, probably the only section that challenges that of Beast of Yucca Flats in the pomposity sweepstakes. This is worth quoting in its entirety (in fact, it should be read aloud in the warm but authoritarian tone of a ’50s school hygiene film narrator):
“Barney and Martin had been bachelor buddies for years. But now that Martin was settling down to marriage, they were slowly drifting apart. Barney, naturally, was still dating all the girls in town, and he couldn’t understand why Brett and Martin didn’t pal around with him more than they did. He couldn’t comprehend that married life brought with it not only new problems and duties, but the necessary togetherness of husband and wife as well.”
“Despite Brett’s most tactful considerations, such as inviting him over to dinner quite often, Barney was growing resentful of her, or at least she felt that he was. Since time began this change in relationships probably happened to all buddies in similar circumstances. Life has its way of making boys grow up, and with marriage, Martin’s time had come. His life was now Brett, a life that he thoroughly enjoyed.”
The veracity of that last observation is quickly demonstrated. The happy couple, now sitting all of six inches from their guest, begins fervently sucking face. (Brett initiates this; perhaps such amatory antics are among the “tactful considerations” we’re told she affords her husband’s buddy.) At this point Barney wisely decides to take his leave. Oddly, though, he stands and exits to his right. Which, according to the layout of the room as established about twenty seconds ago, has him heading towards the kitchen rather than the front door.
The above scene is even funnier when we consider the film’s apparent timeline. Take this section of the narration: “â€¦But now that Martin was settling down to marriage, [he and Barney] were slowly drifting apart.” Is it just me, or does this description seem a tad bizarre given that Brett and Martin returned from their honeymoon less than two days ago?
Also, and forgive me for beating a dead uncle, but nobody really seems all that effected by the fact that Ben was just the day before eaten by a space monster. Hell, you’d think the spaceship and monster alone would throw them off their stride at least somewhat. On the other hand, there probably wasn’t as much navel-gazing going on back in those pre-Oprah days. Maybe a scene like this would have helped:
Barney: “Congratulations on the promotion, old buddy. [Puffs on cigarette.] Shame about Ben, though.”
Martin: “Yeah, that was a hell of a thing, wasn’t it? [Takes a drag off his own cigarette] Well, I guess those duty rosters aren’t going to write themselves.”
Cut to the next morning, where we see some soldiers guarding the spacecraft. By now I was pondering the location of the guy who escaped from the creature yesterday. Admittedly, Martin hasn’t exactly exhibited a surfeit of mental acuity so far. Still, I’m pretty sure if somebody showed up at the police station and reported, “A big noisy carpet monster ate my girlfriend,” that he’d be able to put the pieces together.
In a truly pointless bit, we see Bradford enter the ship and look around for a second or two. Then we cut to a woman in a housecoat, waving at her husband as he leaves for work. “The next morning,” ON fills in, “Betty Johnson, as usual, blew a goodbye kiss to her husband. But for the last time.” Betty Johnson, huh? Man, they must have toiled for hours before striking upon that moniker
This short aside provides some of the film’s more pointless narration. First, I think we got the fact that she was blowing a kiss to her departing husband when we saw the footage of her blowing a kiss to her departing husband. Moreover, the remainder of the scene is built around Betty’s tragic demise. Given this, the film’s more perspicacious viewers might well have deduced, even sans narration, that this augured her “last” such kiss.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. As she approaches her house we hear a mewling infant. Betty enters the nursery. “Poor baby,” she soothes. “Let Mommy take your temperature.” In the film’s most genuinely frisson-inspiring moment, we see that this procedure will not be accomplished with an oral thermometer. At this point watching Betty being scarfed down by a rampaging rug will prove pretty anticlimactic. (Oh, and wiping that thing off with a tissue ain’t cutting it, lady. Try swabbing it with alcohol. Yeesh.)
A cut outside shows the monster moving along and shrieking like usual. Then it’s back to Betty, who’s heading outside to hang up some laundry. (Has anyone performing this task in a horror movie ever not ended up dead?) Since we pretty much know where this is going, the length at which this is dragged out is fairly aggravating. I suppose in theory that the slow pace is meant to foster suspense. However, given that the narrator has already established that Betty will not live out the scene, I found it instead rather injurious to my already frayed attention span.
Betty (eventually) senses something in the nearby bushes. The following chain of events requires some careful editing, as the bushes are farther from Betty than she is from the door into the house. Since she undoubtedly can move faster than the carpet monster—of course, that’s true of everybody it eventually eats—they have to go their best to divert our attention from this inconvenient fact.
This is *cough, cough* ‘achieved’ by the picture’s customary gambit of switching to a Monster POV shot (one that magically advances the beast’s position by quite some distance), all while having Betty just stand there until her doom eventually shambles over to her position. Then, in a spectacularly hamfisted and jaw-droppingly crass attempt at pathos, we cut from her presumed fate to the baby crying away in its crib.
Then we cut back outside to the now abandoned and woefully forlorn hanging laundry. Oh, the Humanity. Oh, and watch for the puff of smoke that wafts into view from the right hand side of the screen. Somebody in the crew was evidently smoking a cigarette off camera and inadvertently blew the smoke into shot.
Back to the spacecraft, the instrumentation of which Bradford is examining. The interior lighting, in case I failed to mention it earlier, strobes on and off at annoyingly short intervals. (Atmosphere!) What strikes me at this juncture is that no one’s bothered to rig up more consistent illumination. Especially since there’s still a monster in there that’s eaten at least two people. Would you really want to hang around such as a place as it plunges into darkness every five seconds?
Bradford is startled when the instrumentation suddenly starts humming and gauges begin flipping about. He reacts by turning switches at random. Now, I admit I’m not the world’s leading expert on space emissions. Still, I must admit this would not have been my first reaction. I mean, he could accidentally launch the ship, or blow it up, or hell, just hit a button that releases the harness holding back the monster. Moreover, I’m not exactly sure what positive result could be expected from this. Still and all, the activity stops, so perhaps I’m just talking out of my hat.
Cut to our next Tragic Vignette. An immensely fat fellow, the waistband of his trousers jauntily hiked several inches below his armpits, is fishing at a creek. Meanwhile, his rambunctious, Opie-like grandson Billy is exploring a nearby field. The latter wanders off after his attention is captured by a leaping lizard. (It’s a Salamanderous Rubberous Fish Lineous, if I’m not mistaken.) Scampish music underlines the wholesome frivolity of these antics.
Our titular star is also around, as you’d expect. We cut to it every once in a while to remind the audience of this. Billy, for his part, has lost track of the lizard and begun using a stick to practice his sword fighting technique. Grandpa, meanwhile, has painfully levered himself to his feet and begins looking for his charge. Although his lumbering gait and ursine build are more suggestive of a bear seeking instead a bee hive full of honey. In any case, he periodically shouts out “Bobby!” in the sort of voice people use when imitating a crabby old man.
These various threads, surprise, are followed at some length. We watch Bobby walk along, then we cut to Grandpa following along after him. (How he knows what direction Bobby’s gone in is another question to which we’ll never have a definitive answer.) Finally, though, Bobby emerges from a brush and assumes a shocked expression. We don’t actually see him get et, but just the fact that a ten year-old would get whacked in a movie made in 1964 is pretty surprising.
Grandpa, meanwhile, finds a piece of the kid’s shirt hanging off a branch and continues on. Meanwhile, he continues to shout out the duel syllables that define his very being. He might only have one line, but by gum, he’s gonna to beat it into the ground. Eventually, though, all good “Bobby!”s must come to an end. Grandpa is ambushed, falls back into another (?) creek, and is fatally assailed by a Monster POV shot. Kudos to the guy playing Grandpa, by the way. It couldn’t have been very pleasant for a man of his years and bulk to fall into and thrash around in a creek. He was a gamer, that one.
Back to the station. Bradford is taking a smoke break in Martin’s office and filling him in. (Would the local sheriff really have a ‘need to know’ about all this? And shouldn’t Caldwell be hearing all this, too?) “Within 48 hours,” ON blathers, confirming that this is the third day of events, “Dr. Bradford had closely examined the creature and the ship, and reached a number of conclusions. [After two days? This guy has a really short attention span.] He was sure the creature had come from beyond our solar system, because it adapted to our environment so quickly. And no planet or dead star near us [“dead star near us”??] has conditions similar to the Earth. [Well, that proves it.]”
“Of special interest to him was the hull of the ship. [A living, man-eating space monster on hand and he’s interested in the ship’s hull?] It was composed of alloy unlike anything human science had ever encountered. [Well, duh.] The doctor had run a number of tests on the metal [good thinking, Doc!], but its molecular structure [Science!] remained a mystery. Because there was no food on board [how the hell would he know?] he presumed the creature had been in a state of suspended animation. Particularly because it had survived the trials of reentry and impact [or as we humans call it, ‘landing’] without apparent harm [gee, there’s a novel idea for a space mission].
“So far he had no success in communicating with it, but he had not yet exhausted all possibilities. [What, more possibilities? Dude, what have you been doing for two whole days?]. On a more subjective basis, he had the curious feeling that the creature did not want to communicate with him. [Probably because he’s a stinky pants.] Such a confession on the part of this eminent scientist made Martin feel [all warm and fuzzy inside?] quite apprehensive. ”
Cut to Bradford reentering the ship. Liking to recycle, he employs the same shot he used last time for this. Martin is also onsite and receives a radio call from Barney. The deputy’s at the creek, responding to a call from a “frantic Mrs. Brown.” (Who’s got a lovely daughter, by the way.) This is Grandpa’s wife, I guess, and she’s worried about his and Bobby’s failure to return. Martin instructs Barney to set up a search party and report in when they find something.
Martin consults with Bradford, who’s finally at the point where he’s running various stimuli tests on the monster. “Bradford came up with a frightening theory,” ON proffers. “Namely, that the creature might be a product of the same engineering that built the spaceship.” I’m not sure why that possibility is so especially horrifying, but there you go. Maybe it’s the classic Cold War fear of falling prey to a ‘carpet gap.’
Even so, we’re told, “It seemed to Martin that if Bradford’s theory were correct, humanity might be in grave danger.” Not everyone agrees, though. “Bradford dismissed Martin’s fears by pointing out that the creature was not exhibiting any signs of violence. [Well, except for the two guys it ate. But that was, like, days ago.] And besides, it was firmly secured by the harness.” I like the fact that nobody thinks to secure the beast in anything further than the harness it arrived in. Second, I’m not sure Martin meant that this one single creature threatened humanity. (Unless he’s even dimmer than I gave him credit for.) I’m assuming he fears an army of the things.
Cut to a bunch of teens at a picnic, or, as ON refers to it, “a hootenanny.” Uh, oh. Everyone knows monsters hate hootenannies. (I mean, why should they be any different?) This involves said kids, mostly hot young women, sitting around on blankets and listening to a guy warble bad folk music on his geetar. Sing along, guys, you all know the words:
“Oh, she left me sad,
but still, I am happy.
In fact, I am glad.
For I am as free,
as that bird in the treeâ€¦”
OK, maybe not.
Anyway, this, per the film’s now established tradition, goes on at some length. Oddly, only two of the kids decide to pass the time by making out. In fact, I’m not even sure they’re interested in each other. Perhaps their bussing is just an excuse to head into the woods and get away from that guy’s singing. They pull up on an old tree stump, but *gasp, choke* hear something in the brush before they can return to their tongue hockey. Cue the Monster POV shot and their typically unlikely demise.
Hearing their cries of distress, the balladeer goes to investigate just as the beast enters the clearing. The fellow goes all Pete Townsend on it. Since this results in him smashing up his guitar, I can only imagine that many people will view the carpet monster as the hero of this movie. While this is occurring, you’d think, the others could be fleeing to safety. However, Guitar Guy proves as sound a strategic thinker as he is a minstrel, cautioning them to “â€¦stay there and stay calm.” Stay there, my ass. Let’s see, huge monster vs. guy with guitar. Which he doesn’t even wield so to inflict maximum damage. (By which I mean, he doesn’t play it.)
Guitar Guy quickly falls, whereupon the beast quickly sets itself onto the cowering hootenanny attendees via the magic of undercranked film. Cue the same female scream we heard before. I guess it gets ’em all, as Martin and Barney later arrive on the scene and find only a shattered guitar and the kids’ blankets. Admittedly the guitar has mysteriously moved from the place where it was destroyed over to where the blankets lay. But hey, anything goes with space monsters. Maybe it was engineered with an Artistic Tableau module.
Meanwhile, ON continues filling us in on stuff we already know. After explaining that Martin and Barney had been searching for a missing group of picnickers—yeah, thanks, we figured that part out—he notes, “The only trace they found of them was the remains of a guitar one of them carried.” This as Martin and Barney examine the remains of the guitar, the one the guy was beating the monster with of all twenty seconds ago. Didn’t they realize this? Were they perhaps expecting audience members to doze off during the proceedings and figured the Narrator should occasionally help them catch up?
“This wholesale disappearance of a large group of people,” ON prattles, “coupled with earlier missing person reports, led Martin to only one conclusion.” I assumed this was, “Damn, this burg needs to get itself another Sheriff, and fast!” Or, “Oh, man, we’ve just lost around half of the hot teenage girls in this hick county. This sucks.” Unfortunately, my deductive skills proved as rusty as Martin’s, for I didn’t surmise that even he might eventually figure out something correctly. “There must be another monster,” ON confirms, “and it was on the loose.”
Back to the station and the nth use of the Station Establishing Shot. Martin, Barney, Caldwell and Bradford are confabbing. “The Colonel listened to Martin’s theory,” we’re told, “and after consulting with Bradford, decided to call Washington.” Wow, don’t go out on a limb there, chief. Perhaps if they get to the President they’ll receive useful orders, like “Don’t let the, ah, space monstah eat any more of our citizens. Especially the, ah, hot young chicks.” (Oh, wait, Johnson was President in 1964, not Kennedy.)
Instead, Caldwell is told to “follow his own good judgment.” In other words, if you save the day, we’ll take the credit. If you screw up, we’ll serve your head up on a platter. Yeah, that sounds like Washington, all right. The other instruction is that, “under no circumstance was he to alarm the populace.” Yeah, that’s some prime, Grade A ass-covering there, by golly. I’m guessing he was talking to someone in the State Department. Caldwell’s decision is to organize a countywide search, although it seems to me that this might be hard to do without alarming at least some segment of the populace. Like the ones conducting the searching, for instance.
My mistake. My invalid assumption was that searching a county, especially one with plenty of woodland, would require more than a handful of people. My bad. “Martin’s assignment,” we learn, “was to search the north end of the county. ” Here we cut away, leaving the fascinating question of how they divvy up the rest of the area unanswered. Always leave the audience wanting more, I guess.
Cut back to the ravaging rug. I have to say, it must be a great monster. How can I tell? Well, it’s clearly out standing in its field. (Man, that’s Komedy.) In any case, we watch it stagger along for a while. This seems an unwise decision on the part of the editor. After all, showcasing how slow this thing is serves only to remind us how unlikely it is that it keeps managing to eat everyone it comes across.
“While Martin and Brett were engaged by the search,” the ON explains [Martin and Brett?!], “the monster was moving toward the Community Dance Hall.” (‘The Community Dance Hall’? Whatever.) Anyway, we cut to this locale, where we watch a blonde poured into shiny gold plastic pants twisting away to, three guesses, “Hold That Tiger.” Well, she at least should be safe from the carpet monster. How can I tell? Well, clearly she can cut a rug. Man, I’m on fire here.
The camera pulls back and we see several dozen people hanging out. Apparently this is where the county’s swinging singles hang out during those lazy summer afternoons. We watch as one guy takes a girl out on the floor. It’s quickly apparent that he acquired his terpsichorean skills at the Mr. Bean Academy of Dance.
Back to the spaceship, where Bradford is monitoring the equipment and recording various readings. Fascinating stuff. Nuthin’ says Sci-Fi Excitement like hot clipboard action. Then we cut back to the dance hall, where the band is still playing “Hold That Tiger.” Then the monster, still shambling along. Then back to the dancers. The ladies are swinging their butts like they’re auditioning for a William GrefÃ© movie.
One woman, seen for a second earlier, gets mad that her date is dancing with another woman. (Because she herself refused to take the floor, so boo hoo.) She grabs her friend and makes to leave. Then we watch the inspired antics—inspired by watching a guy who had himself watched Foster Brooks, it appears—of the hall’s Comic Relief Drunk. Hah, he’s stealing drinks! Nothing says Boffo Comedy Larfs like a thieving alcoholic.
Mr. Bean Guy (also the one whose date just left) continues to dance Mr. Beanishly. By now I was attempting to figure out what level of Hades I was occupying. It’s whichever one punishes sinners by making them watch an endless display of folks capering ineptly to the eternally reoccurring strains of “Hold That Tiger.” Earlier the carpet monster’s appearance heroically brought the folk singer’s warbling to its long awaited end. Its similar effect here will almost certainly be greeted with fervid audience acclaim and veneration.
Lest you think I exaggerate, by the time this felicitous happenstance eventually occurs we will—with only the occasional brief cutaway inserted here and there—have been watching them dance to this single tune for seven straight minutes. This in a film running (well, stumbling) a grand total of 76 minutes.
We are suddenly saved, however, when the creature just abruptly appears in the hall. By which I mean, one second it’s clearly outside in some field, the next it’s hovering over the dancers. Making this more puzzling is that it shows up on the far side of the hall, opposite of the entrances. In any case, the crowd understandably panics. This is graphically illustrated when one particular bystander trenchantly observes, “My God, what is it?!”
In a scene presumably intended to portray Man’s Inhumanity to Man, several fights break out near the (somewhat) crowded doors as people attempt to flee. This partly explains why most everyone wouldn’t escape from a beast that can’t really manuver well out in the open, much less within a furniture-strewn room. It also allows for the film’s culturally nascent attempts at gore, as much Hersey’s Syrup is smeared across on the faces of the combatants. Others in the room, meanwhile, employ the now venerable “just sit there until the monster gets to me” approach. Even those who bother to retreat don’t appear all that frightened. After all, if people were afraid of bad rugs, there’d be a panic every time William Shatner made a public appearance.
With nothing else to do, folks start shoving themselves through the carpet monster’s frontal, er, orifice. You know, I don’t want to go all Freud on everybody. Still, that particular aspect of the costume is kind of disconcerting. Anyway, this results in lots of tightly composed wriggling butt shots. Meanwhile, a bunch of people clearly milling around the door stay behind to watch another fistfight. Yep, looks like raw panic, all right. (For those watching the ‘uncut’ version of the film on the Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD, I’m pretty sure this scene has been shortened by many victims and butts. As well, the sound has been remixed to cut down on the usage of the Looped Scream.)
Cut to Martin, who is found—I swear—sitting in his squad car and making out with Brett. This, remember, is the film’s hero!! ON, forgetting as usual that we can actually see the movie, tries to cover for him. “While Martin and Brett,” he reports, “were taking a break from the search [I’ll say!!], a call came through which confirmed Martin’s theory. Col. Caldwell told them of the monster’s attack at the dance hall. His troops now had orders to destroy the monster, and he asked for Martin’s assistance.” Martin drives off to comply.
Perhaps fearing we’ll become impatient with the film’s overall lack of smooching, we now cut to several couples sitting in their cars and making out at the local lover’s lane. This, naturally, presages footage of the monster strolling through the countryside. “The monster next appeared in lover’s lane,” ON needlessly orates. “Anyone who experienced that catastrophe and survived would never go there again.” What about those experienced the catastrophe and died? Did they go back? But yeah, I guess associating a place with the horrible deaths of your peers and/or make-out buddy might harsh your love vibe.
Now, I’ll admit that the folks parked here probably aren’t at their most alert. Again, though, it’s hard to believe this sizable creature stumbling around in broad daylight and making all these roaring noises wouldn’t attract somebody’s attention. However, so it goes, and the monster is soon gobbling up another pair of victims. Since this involves rearing up over the back of an open convertible and undulating it’s body up and down upon the length of the vehicle, well, one can only imagine what the neighbors thought was going on.
Needless to say, all this somehow escapes the other attendees’ notice. Then a bald guy smoking a pipe drives up nearby and stares in confusion at the monster. (What was he doing there anyway? Pervert.) As he watches, the monster approaches another car, which manages to drive off in time. Then it turns its attention to another vehicle. The folks in this manage to scoot out the passenger door and run away.
However, the couple in the battered jalopy with #23 SKIDOO and various crude cartoon figures painted on it remain tragically mired in, uh, the Spell of Eros. When they do look up, the old clunker refuses to start (gee, that’s fresh). In his panic, the guy pushes his date’s head against the door and knocks her out. Lacking a convenient open top to provide access to its latest meal, the monster employs it’s spatula-like head to flip the car over. The result is two actors fatally doused with ketchup—who knew you could sustain that sort of damage in such a manner—who are subsequently sucked out the overturned car’s windows.
With roughly 23% of the county’s population now consumed, the authorities decide to spring into action. Martin’s car is seen roaring down the road toâ€¦somewhere, sirens blaring. Meanwhile, “It was almost an hour before Caldwell learned of the monster’s devastating attack,” we’re told. The Col. Is so hopped up that he’s mobilized both the awesome manpower at his command and their truck. He “wasted no time ordering his men into action.” That’s right, all seven of them. Rifles and everything.
However, as per tradition, Science needs bust head with the Military. “It was at this point that Bradford interceded. He demanded that the monster be taken alive at all costs.” Actually, now that the monster is pretty well past being a secret, you have to wonder why Bradford isn’t calling in additional troops. (I mean, imagine what Caldwell could do with ten guys? Or a dozen.) Catching the beast shouldn’t be impossible, after all, as the second one’s been restrained all this time by a couple of bands of tin sheeting. Capturing it alive with only half a dozen people, though, is another matter.
Of course, the idea is that the Pursuit of Knowledge must not be place before the Commonweal. “The Colonel’s protests about the dead and missing made no impression on Bradford. Caldwell conceded to the point of assuring Bradford that they would not destroy the monster if they could avoid it.” Anyway, the monster is right offscreen at this point, so they go to work.
“Get on with it, Lt.,” Caldwell orders, as we cut to a medium shot of an officer with a single bar on his helmet. (Although no collar tabs or shoulder insignia.) This makes Caldwell’s force even loopier. Let me get this straight: A full bird Colonel is in the field personally leading a force consisting of a junior officer, a non-com and six enlisted men. Is that right? Because that’s a weird ass field command, let me tell you.
The Lt. leads the men forward. It seems apparent that this special squad, or whatever the hell it is, has trained by watching the very finest 3 Stooges shorts. First, they creep forward with their rifles—sort of—at the ready, bunched together in the sort of staggered formation that usually results when Moe Howard snarls “Spread out!” Their posture is hunched over as they progress at a stilted pace, step by step, inch by inch, like Larry after hearing someone mention Niagara Falls. (If you’re an Abbott & Costello fan, substitute the Susquehana Hat Company.)
As the men slowly approach the creature (and what, exactly, is the plan from there?), Martin’s squad car arrives. He, Barney and Brett (!!) clamber out and approach Bradford and Caldwell. The three, dubbed “Martin’s party” by ON, offer their help. Caldwell responds that enough lives are being endangered already. He’s right, too, especially given his subordinates’ complete lack of a strategy of some sort. Hey, guy, how about herding it with your truck? Have you tried gassing it? Hell, how about tossing a net over it?
Instead, ON continues, Martin and the others will be part of the “second line of defense, to be used only if necessary.” Yeah, whatever, dude. In effect this means standing around and watching the ‘action.’ Speaking of which, having crept forward about a dozen paces, the men start shaking their guns. This is a classic bad movie technique to indicate that weapons are being fired when the production can’t actually afford blank cartridges. I’m not sure how this supposed fusillade falls into line with Caldwell’s promise to only kill the monster if it can’t be helped. Of course, I’m not a full bird Colonel.
The men then continue stepping forward, shaking their guns all the while. Actually, it’s a good thing they couldn’t afford blanks. The actors would have been deafened if they were actually firing while standing this close together.
Now, as indicated, I don’t have any formal infantry training. Still, I couldn’t help noticing what seemed to be some flaws with their current battle plan. To wit:
To indicate the creature being shot, they’ve covered the costume with sawdust or flour or something. Then the costume is shaken by yanking on a rather thick cord they’ve rigged to it (you can see this in the close-up shots if you look closely), causing the sawdust to cascade down. A primitive effect, true. But hey, it’s better than a lot of CGI stuff I’ve seen.
The beast begins to retreat. The men match it step for step. After all, were the gap between them grows to ten feet or more their guns would be useless. Meanwhile, we cut over to the Second Line of Defense, who look on in a less than captivated fashion. Barney is even lazily chewing on a piece of straw. (!) In any case, the tables are turned when the monster cleverly decides to move forward and attack the guys. They helpfully all fall down like bowling pins and most are consumed.
“The Sergeant,” ON explains, “a shaken man, returned babbling about what had happened.” Yeah, dude, they were watching you from like twenty feet away. I’m pretty sure they got the gist of it. “Caldwell,” ON continues, “realizing the full danger of the situation, decided he had only one means left to stop the monster: Grenades.”
“Now Bradford made a drastic move. Acting on his superior authority, he forbad Caldwell to destroy the creature. The Colonel, more concerned with saving human lives than advancing Science, told Bradford to “Go to Hell.”” Martin and the others, meanwhile, just stand there blankly during this. I guess they didn’t receive any direction on how their characters were supposed to react to the debate.
Caldwell pulls himself free of Bradford’s clutches and moves forward. He pulls the pin on his one grenade—and has rather more trouble doing so than you’d expect—stands there with it in his hand for about five or ten seconds (Boom!), then starts walking forward with it (Boom!), and finally manages to trip on absolutely nothing. What a maroon. However, since this is one of those grenades with a minute and a half timer, he manages to grab the dropped device and chuck it. After the explosion, the monster is utterly destroyed, looking like a ragtag collection of carpets lying flat on the ground.
Martin, Barney and, of course, Brett trot forward to check on the wounded Caldwell. Bradford, meanwhile, finds an electronic gizmo of some sort in the creature’s bloody remains. With Silent Movie Chase Music playing on the soundtrack, he rushes to the truck, jumps in, and drives away. Caldwell advises Martin to follow him. Barney tells Martin to go ahead, that he’ll stay with the Colonel. So, naturally, Martin grabs Brett (!!) and they run to the squad car and take off.
We watch several very exciting minutes of a truck and then a squad car driving down a road. Eventually Bradford pulls up outside the spaceship. (There’s still a soldier standing guard on it, despite the fact that the established number of them had been in on the monster attack.) He hurriedly crawls into the craft. As he approaches the instrument panel, an explosion occurs. (?) A grievously wounded Bradford, covered with fake blood, staggers back outside.
“The explosion,” ON notes, “loosened the harness on the monster and allowed it to escape.” This is indicated by the monster magically appearing outside. Maybe these things can teleport. Yeah, that’s the ticket. It munches the remaining soldier and proceeds towards the gruesomely bloodied Bradford. Despite the fact that he’s in far worse shape than any of the previous victims, the scientist manages to push it off and crawl away again. At this point, the suspense was killing me—well, something was killing me—but then Martin’s squad car makes its belated appearance and crashes right into the remaining creature. Exit Monster #2.
Brett and Martin tend to Bradford. “But there was no time,” ON relates. “Bradford told Martin what he had just confirmed, that these monsters were highly specialized test animals. They were, in fact, mobile laboratories that consumed human beings in order to analyze them chemically, undoubtedly to detect weaknesses in the human species. [“Result #1: Physical integrity of human subjects compromised when they are eaten by space monsters.”]”
(By the way, that seems like a lot of conjecture to “confirm” by momentarily pulling a small piece of gear out of a monster body and then getting blown up in a spaceship. But then, I’m not a scientist.)
“He told Martin that the information fed into a computer in the spacecraft. Further, he added [you’ve got to like it when a dying man’s pained gasps are annotated with a “further, he added”], now that both monsters were dead, the computer would activate a transmitter to send the results into outer space. [Again, this seems like an awful lot of supposition.] Martin knew what he had to do.”
Oddly, this isn’t to pull Brett into the squad car for yet another round of kissy-face. Yet. Instead, he hustles into the ship. “[H]e heard the transmitter generator kick on,” ON explains. Using the butt of his (BB) sidearm, Martin wails away at the instrument panels as hard you one possibly can without actually hitting them. This, as you may have gleaned, has little effect. “The super-tough alloys of the spacecraft,” we’re told, “were not even dented by Martin’s hammering.”
He then grabs a pipe sticking out from the top of a panel (??). This comes loose rather easily, considering that it was presumably fastened with some sort of super-tough alloy. After another lengthy and vigorous round of air-whiffing—you can actually see the pipe slowing down as it approaches the panels—Martin gives up. I couldn’t help noticing that he mainly attacks an air vent cover (!), presumably because this would be the cheapest thing to replace were he to accidentally damage it.
“As the transmitter stopped,” ON reveals, “Martin felt sick. Evidently all the information had been transmitted.” Either that, or the ship’s A/C has stopped cycling. Anyway, he crawls back outside—literally—and informs Bradford and Brett of his failure. “He slowly asked Bradford what was in store for humanity.” ‘Slowly’ seems sort of an odd adjective there, but whatever.
“Bradford was pessimistic, but implied that maybe all was not lost. After all, he told him, the vastness of the universe was incredible. If these monsters had come from its outer limits, their home might even no longer exist. Or if they do come again, perhaps Man will have advanced enough to cope with them, and those that made them. Only God knows for sure, were Bradford’s last words to anyone on this Earth.”
Personally I think the dying Bradford was just trying to reassure Our Leads. Unless we as a species have progressed to the point where we can wield hand grenades against the aliens, or drive automobiles into them, or perhaps have the guys on Junkyard Wars rig up some sort of boulder-throwing devices to use on them, we’re doomed. Doomed, I tells ya.
An Army Sergeant directs his men in removing a log blocking the road: “Let’s get going. Let’s go, let’s go. Move it over. Let’s get going. Let’s go. All right, back on the truck. Let’s go.”
For such a bizarre cheapie made in Lake Tahoe, several people involved in Creeping Terror had further show biz careers.
Arthur Nelson, aka Vic Savage, appeared as an actor in 1959’s Street-Fighter. (A film in which actor Arthur N. White appeared under the name of Vic Savage.) That film was directed by Joseph Sargent, who went on to a successful and prolific helming career. Some of his notable works include Colossus: The Forbin Project and The Taking of Pelham One-Two-Three, which is a great movie. On the other hand, he also directed MacArthur and Goldengirl. Anyway, Nelson’s third and final appearance before a camera occurred thirty years later in 1995’s Jack-O, in which he played “Cable Installer.”
Co-writer Robert Silliphant, ‘credited’ here with the film’s story, helped pen the infamous The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies (1963), as well as providing “additional dialog” for the ’65 schlockfest Beach Girls and the Monster (1965). (There’s an amazing three year’s work!) Astoundingly, these three credits seem to represent his cinematic career.
Larry Burrell, aka our Omniscient Narrator, later appeared in Jabootu subject They Saved Hitler’s Brain (1968). This was mostly followed by TV work, including two Columbo’s and a Banacek.
Jack King, the horribly obese dude who assayed Gramps, later appeared in a number of Swedish porno flicks, such as The Toy Box and A Touch of Sweden. I’d been hoping the IMBD had gotten his credits mixed up with another Jack King. However, since the roles included “Fat Peter Horn” and “Big Fat Man,” probably not. Hopefully he was kept far offscreen during any of the, er, action sequences.
Brendon Boone, who played Barney, had further small roles in theatrical and then television movies.
Dr. Bradford was played by William Throurlby. Throurlby is ensured pop culture immortality for being the original Marlboro Man. He had a bit in 1962’s The Manchurian Candidate (!). B-movie credits include appearing in underwater monster flick Destination Inner Space and Castle of Evil (both 1966). After that he apparently retired from movies, although he appeared nearly forty years later as “Man in Elevator” in 2002’s Two Week Notice, the Sandra Bullock/Hugh Grant movie.
Trivia fans may enjoy knowing that an alternate title for The Creeping Terror was Dangerous Charter. (!)