I owned two cars in my life: one was a cherry red Ford Gran Torino, a Starsky and Hutch car without the white racing stripes. I got her when I was seventeen, for the princely sum of $100. I loved her – for the three weeks she lived. Her undercarriage prolapsed on the Long Island Expressway. The other was a newer, more sensible Ford Focus, which I needed for my job in the Air Force until i was discharged and couldn’t keep up the payments. I’ve been lucky since then, living in a country with a working infrastructure, and though I may complain about the bus service on Twitter (you *do* follow @Deggsy on twitter, don’t you, True Believers?), I know I’m lucky to have a decent service.
And yet, though I know public transport is economical and ecologically sound, if someone handed me a free car to sue, I’d take it. There’s nothing like having the freedom to go where you choose, when you choose – and not have to stand out in the cold and the rain, waiting for a bus that might not show up.
So, I really felt for the main character in CREEP VAN: Campbell Jackson (Brian Kolodziel, FLIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD), a young guy who made some bad mistakes and faced bad luck, and found himself in debt, homeless and having to commute by bus across Detroit to get to his crappy car cleaning job. His friend Bob (Justin Kolodziel) lets him stay at his place, but Campbell finds it difficult being there, especially with all the kinky sex games Bob plays with his ball-busting girlfriend Danni (Veronica Adkinson). If only Campbell could get himself some wheels, it could be the start of him on the road to the recovery of his life. Even if it’s a crappy old white van that looks like it’s held together by rust and various dried fluids you can only see under UV light.
Such a van sits in the heart of Motor City. And from the start of the movie, when we see a would-be teenage car thief try to slip through the half-open van window – only to be sliced in half – while his partner gets chased down and crushed, we realise that there’s more to this mean machine than meets the eye (or nose, probably).
The first half of CREEP VAN focuses on the soap opera antics of Campbell, and how he deals with his situation, his Cialis-obsessed boss, his stoner co-workers, the more sympathetic co-worker Amy (Amy Wehrell), and Swami Ted (Collin Bernsen, PUPPET MASTER 2), a drug-dealing customer who gets his bag of weed stolen by the stoners and now threatens Campbell and Amy. But every so often, the movie remembers what it’s called, and we return to the eponymous vehicle, and its driver, the unseen Creep (Mike Butler, CITIZEN TOXIE: TOXIC AVENGER IV), who has modified the van with numerous Saw-style traps, including spikes through the backs of seats and lethal seatbelts. And of course we get to see them in action (with kudos to director Scott W. McKinlay (GAG) for using practical effects, courtesy of Almost Human).
Eventually, Campbell and the Creep’s paths cross, when the Creep puts a For Sale sign on his van to draw in more victims. Will Campbell be the latest one?
CREEP VAN is an unpretentious little B-movie, and as such captures the Grindhouse feel better than many others I’ve seen, and it kept me watching (unlike Quentin Tarantino’s similar DEATH PROOF, where I fell asleep the two times I tried watching it). The story is a muddled mess, with characters and cameos (including one from CHROMESKULL’s Angelina Armani, and another from Lloyd Kaufman from Troma Entertainment, with whom McKinlay and others in CREEP VAN share some history) appearing and then disappearing, either because the Creep has killed them off or because they were forgotten. The one with the most screen time is Swami Ted, particularly when he does an abrupt U-turn in character after Campbell saves his life from the Creep.
Still, the kills are plentiful and bloody, if you like the Troma-style over the top nature of them (and why not?). There’s also boobs, if you’re into that sort of thing (I’ve heard some people are). And the ending, though rushed, was unexpected, but still in keeping with the ones you’d see in the movies of the 70s.
CREEP VAN is on release in the UK, but won’t be released in the US until December 11. In the meantime, tell your friends, watch the trailer here, and to quote the movie’s tag line, Let the Bad Times Roll!
Director: Scott W. McKinlay
Plot: 1 out of 5 stars
Gore: 4 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Derek “Deggsy” O’Brien