“There was blood — the old man’s blood — on her hands, under her nails.”
Two scientists (Ralph Morgan and Onslow Stevens) return from the West Indies with a potent serum derived from cats. When Morgan is mysteriously murdered, his cat-phobic daughter (Janis Wilson) tries to determine the identity of the killer.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Murder Mystery
Clearly made to capitalize on the success of Val Lewton’s RKO horror films, The Creeper unfortunately fails to elicit anything close to the same level of enjoyment or psychological complexity as Lewton’s classic thrillers. The story — involving a mysterious serum, cats, phobias, and the West Indies — makes little to no sense, instead serving merely as a pseudo-scientific backdrop for what turns out to be a rather ordinary tale of rivalry and revenge. Janis Wilson (in her final screen appearance; a former child actress, she gave up acting after this) gives a campy, one-dimensional performance, all wide eyes and blank stare; equally incompetent (and instantly forgettable) is John Baragrey as her would-be lover, Dr. Reade.
Director Jean Yarbrough and cinematographer George Robinson do manage to effectively employ shadows in their atmospheric camerawork — but ultimately they can’t lift this silly film above its nonsensical and uninteresting script.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Effective use of shadowy cinematography
No; skip this one. Listed as a Camp Classic in the back of Peary’s book.