Synopsis: The daughter of a film star with telepathic powers relating to insects lives in an area of Switzerland where a killer is stalking girls.

Creepers 3.5

eyelights: its mercifully brief, in comparison to the original.
eyesores: the censorship. the editing was done with a bludgeon.

Snicker, snicker… the poorly-written synopsis above is actually quite analogous to this American edit of ‘Phenomena‘: it demonstrates a tenuous understanding of language, it’s poorly constructed, and it’s incredibly befuddled. And that’s after I corrected two basic grammar mistakes in it!

‘Creepers’ is a heavily-censored version of the original film, designed for the U.S. market. It’s almost 30 minutes shorter, at about 80 minutes runtime versus ‘Phenomena”s approximate 110 minutes – that’s a MASSIVE amount, being well over a quarter of the film! It would probably be fair to say that it has been butchered.

In fact, I can’t fathom that Dario Argento fans can tolerate, let alone appreciate, this film. I would even imagine that they are appalled by the numerous cuts that were made throughout. And fans of Donald Pleasance must surely be upset, since his screen time was reduced to just a few short scenes – now more an afterthought than a lead role.

Personally, I didn’t mind this version. In fact, I almost like it more than the other one (not that this is saying much, given just how much I loathed that viewing experience). For one, I found it less painful to watch, because a lot of nonsense was excised. AND Pleasance’s bullshit performance was trimmed down to a few tolerable moments.

But the darned thing was edited by a brutal layman, not an artisan. Whereas this means that much of the malapropos footage that filled the space between sequences was thankfully removed, it also means that scenes start or end abruptly, and sometimes stagger through a once-carefully paced -but equally ineffectual- series of motions.

Furthermore, ‘Creepers’ seems to have been censored. Obviously, a lot of the gruesomeness found itself on the editing room floor (not that there was much of it in comparison to Argento’s previous films), but so did some of the dialogue. Or, more specifically, all of the cursing has been erased with the pinpoint accuracy of a rubber mallet: palls of silence suddenly fall over the film, only to be yanked suddenly.

Well, at least they didn’t inserts honks or bells to cover the offensive language (although… that could have been amusing…).

I don’t know if it was just my version of the film or if this is true of all versions of ‘Creepers’, mind you – my DVD is a cheap-@$$ copy (courtesy of Legacy Entertainment) that was also pan and scanned. Heck it even looks like it was transferred from a VHS master – if not a VHS tape. So it’s conceivable that the censorship was unique to this particular release, and not indicative of its American theatrical exhibition.

Whatever the case may be, I found ‘Creepers’ far less agonizing than the original, full-length picture. I was even tempted to give it a 4 out of 10. But then I figured that I was probably partially immunized by having seen the unedited version of the film, so I notched it down a little bit. It’s certainly not a better film, not even marginally, and it’s not a different film either (it pretty much maintains the essence of ‘Phenomena’), but at least it’s mercifully brief.

Date of viewing: November 28, 2012

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