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Countdown to Halloween: "C" is for Creature of Destruction (1967)




Creature of Destruction (1967) reminds me an awful lot of a movie released two years earlier, The Beach Girls & the Monster. This is funny, because it’s actually a remake of the 1956 film, The She Creature. I’ve seen the former; the primary difference is that, in its twist ending, we learn the monster is not actually a monster. I haven’t seen the latter, but its reputation precedes it…

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What I’ve heard about The She Creature is that it’s not very good, but features a terrific Paul Blaisdell monster. If that’s true, Creature of Destruction is the just the same, except it does not have a terrific monster. It has more in common with The Beach Girls & the Monster in that its monster is built with a bargain basement budget. It kills by waving its arms like Robby the Robot when he’s in danger.

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The plot is no more ridiculous than any number of 1950s and 60s horror and sci-fi movies. Plus, it’s sold by the appearance of the great Les Tremayne as lake resort hypnotist, Dr. John Basso. This doesn’t mean Creature of Destruction isn’t filled with a boatload of flaws, but they’re silly/fun flaws that make it an endearing effort. The fact that it was a TV movie helps explain the production values.

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That wouldn’t be an excuse today, but in 1967, small screens and fuzzy images could disguise a show’s true appearance. Plus, AIP gave director Larry Buchanan strict orders for this and a number of other direct-to-television features: “We want cheap color pictures, we want half-assed names in them, we want them 80 minutes long and we want them now.” Mission accomplished, with this one, at least.

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Again, I don’t know how The She Creature fleshed out the plot, but there are some good elements found in Creature of Destruction. For example, the character of Sam Crane (Neil Fletcher) is so singularly focused on money that he competes with the monster for the role of the real bad guy. Also, the efforts of Capt. Theodore Dell (Aron Kincaid) to save the heroine, suggest a soapy love triangle.

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She’s Doreena, played by Pat Delany, who’s trapped in a bizarre relationship with Dr. Basso. When she’s hypnotized and instructed to regress to a primitive state, a physical monster manifests in the lake and crawls out to slap its victims with its waving arms until they die. She is, of course, a beautiful young woman, which makes the contrast of a cheap, ugly monster somewhat compelling.

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For every hint of good, though, a plot point is horrendously botched. For example, the movie opens with one of Dr. Basso’s shows. We see only the fact that it results in a prediction of impending doom. However, when discussed among people who saw the show, we overhear deep conversations of concern about taking poor Doreena back to a previous life. We didn’t see that part of the show, so it’s news to us.

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Creature of Destruction is also in its heart a beach movie. However, it’s one of the worst I’ve ever seen in that respect. In most of them, the kids dancing look like they’re having fun and we have fun watching their crazy 60’s moves; we maybe even enjoy the songs. These kids look stiff as zombies and the music is dull, although the big number is called, Here Comes Batman, the songwriter’s tribute to the TV series.

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What remains after seeing this is a strong desire to watch The She Creature. My impression is that the primary purpose of Creature of Destruction will be to make it seem like, in comparison, a good movie. On its own, I can’t recommend a reason to watch Creature of Destruction; that is, unless you’re a completest and were left wanting more after watching Mars Needs Women or Curse of the Swamp Creature.

Written by Tony Huston

Directed by Larry Buchanan

Starring Les Tremayne, Pat Delany, Aron Kincaid, Neil Fletcher, Annabelle Weenick, Roger Ready RT 80 min.

Home Video Frolic Pictures (DVD)



Part of the Countdown to Halloween. Click here for a list of all the blogs participating. Each offers its own distinctive month long celebration of the chilling holiday we all love.



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