The Creep Behind the Camera tells the tale of psychotic filmmaker Vic Savage
If you’ve seen Tim Burton’s impressionistic take on the life and character of iconic “bad” filmmaker Ed Wood, then you have an idea what awaits you with director Pete Schuermann’s The Creep Behind the Camera, a low budget and outrageous portrait of a filmmaker that not only makes Wood look like Orson Welles, but who was a human being so despicable, conniving and unsavory that it’s hard to even endure his tale. The inept auteur in question here is the vile A.J Nelson, better known as Vic Savage, a two-bit, sociopathic Hollywood hustler who, in the early 1960s, slimed his way into the offices of a legitimate film producer looking for a hit and convinced the money man that he could in fact give him “the greatest monster movie ever made.” That film ended up being 1964’s The Creeping Terror, widely considered the WORST picture ever made, a subjective claim as there are many contenders (including Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space, a bona fide magnum opus compared to The Creeping Terror). But it’s the story behind the making of that trashterpiece that The Creep Behind the Camera tells and, my God is it a dark tale.
Josh Phillips stars as Savage, a kid from a busted home turned street hustler who has big dreams of making it in Hollywood, like every other broken kid pining for a fast track to a better life. He turns tricks and steals cars for quick cash while trying to hard sell himself as an up and coming movie maker and manages to get a few bucks to make what would become The Creeping Terror, a ludicrous romp about what looks like a giant carpet mauling young lovers at “Lake Tahoe” (really a stagnant mud puddle in LA). But while this tale of a fringe dweller grifting the system to make sincere but stupid art seems charming on the surface, Savage was the opposite of charming. He was the scummiest of the scum. He lies, cheats, hurts and manipulates a naive young woman into marrying him and soon lapses into degradation, openly cheating on her, drifting into hard drug abuse and beating her and worse, all the while claiming that he is “God.”
And it gets worse. Way worse.
A film like this — interspersed as it is with talking head footage of the real people from Savage’s life — is to be taken with a grain of salt. There’s no doubt that Savage was a hustler and a grifter and deeply, woefully troubled. But as the man is no longer here to defend himself, who knows where the truth really lies? That said, even if half of Savage’s transgressions illustrated here are fact, its enough to vilify the man. What a pig he was; a self-centered, abusive, megalomaniacal slab of human garbage and the movie doesn’t even try to redeem him.
Seeing such a scathing portrait of Savage irrevocably taints his previously-charmingly horrible film and, to prove that statement, Synapse has included a 2K scan of The Creeping Terror itself as a bonus feature, so you too can thrill to the greasy charms of Savage’s filmic folly. Other features on the disc include a cast and crew commentary, trailers, a fun making-of doc, scene breakdowns and more. The Creep Behind the Camera is a grim portrait of a grimy man who, if you buy the movie, deserved every dose of misfortune he got.