“Creepozoids”

creepozoidsThe first line of spoken dialogue in “Creepozoids,” said within the first two minutes of the movie, is this: “Is somebody out there?” Within two minutes of that, a giant cockroach bursts into the room. That’s efficient. I appreciate a movie that doesn’t waste time like that. I’ve seen way too many monster movies that labor under the delusion that people watch them for real human drama and character work. “Creepozoids” was made by David DeCoteau, a protégé of Roger Corman and Charles Band, the latter being the mind behind series such as “Puppet Master,” “Gingerdead Man,” and “Evil Bong.” DeCoteau is also a veteran of the porn industry, so as a filmmaker he’s experienced at cutting to the chase.

DeCoteau’s background in skin flicks shows through in the basic structure of “Creepozoids.” The characters are flat and single-minded, scenes are set up with the bare minimum of story to get those characters where they need to be, and then the action takes center stage. Once the climax happens, the remaining characters are hurried through the process of setting them up again for another go-round. This process is repeated until an appropriate number of action scenes have been completed, and then credits roll unceremoniously.

The heroes of “Creepozoids” are a tiny group of soldiers (including scream queen Linnea Quigley) attempting to make their way across the barren wasteland of America in the nuclear-scorched future of 1998. They stumble upon a seemingly abandoned scientific research installation and discover they could hole up there and ride out the rest of the nuclear war in relative comfort. While they’re digging around the facility, however, they begin to realize something terrible happened there not too long ago. Remember the giant cockroach from the first five minutes?

As it turns out, the facility is the remnant of a secret government project to figure out a way to make people produce their own amino acids. If the human body could generate amino acids, the nerd soldier explains, it would mean no one would ever have to eat anything ever again. Eliminating world hunger is a noble goal, to be sure, but unfortunately the experiments never made it past the “create an airborne virus that causes everyone to puke black tar and die” phase. This is why you budget for scientific research funding, Mr. President.

The nerd soldier is the first to go, spewing ink all over the breakfast table in a low-rent copy of John Hurt’s final scene in “Alien.” From that moment on, the rest of the unlucky crew are put through the wringer. Not only are they stalked by the giant bug-man from earlier in the movie, but they also have to deal with one of their own turning into a raging zombie and a giant rat puppet. Actually, calling the giant rat a “puppet” is unfair, because for it to be a puppet would imply that someone was manipulating it to make it appear to be moving. That doesn’t happen here – the actors just hold it up to their necks and thrash around like Chris Farley.

Despite the giant rat and one of the soldiers turning into a zombie, the real threat remains the giant bug-man, who stalks and kills most of the heroes until the last surviving soldier goes mano-a-buggo with it. It’s during this final battle that “Creepozoids” throws in one last twist – the bug-monster cracks open and spits out a weird bug-baby hybrid thing that looks an awful lot like a Xenomorph that popped out of Chucky. (Note: “Aliens vs. Chucky” is Copyright 2017 Cyborg City 3000 – DO NOT STEAL this original intellectual property!)

In the end, the last surviving hero slays the creepy alien-Chucky hybrid and…walks away. There’s no sunset to walk off into, being underground and all that, but surely something has to happen after that, right? The monster’s eyes open at the very end, so presumably the fight’s not over yet, but the movie just ends there. Again, DeCoteau’s roots in porn show through. The action is over with, so why bother wrapping anything up? The audience is already rewinding the tape.

The bluntness and simplicity of “Creepozoids” are refreshing in their own way. DeCoteau knows no one really cares about the characters or the plot, so he doesn’t really try to do anything with them, and doesn’t waste any more of the audience’s time with them than is absolutely necessary. If only the movie’s quick-and-dirty approach to storytelling hadn’t extended to the creature effects, “Creepozoids” could have been a cult classic instead of a camp curiosity. All B-movies have to cut corners somewhere, but cutting every corner just leaves you with something that’s not sharp at all.

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