American Pop Classics Part 3: RITUALS/ THE CREEPER, 1977

(This is the third part in a series about films from American Pop Classics. For part one, click here, and for part two, click here. )

When I first I heard about The Creeper  back in summer 2010, it immediately reminded me of Southern Comfort (1981). Back then, Code Red DVD had just released The Creeper under its original title, Rituals, but I never picked it up. So when I saw American Pop had a version of it under an alternate title, I decided to acquire it and see if it was any good.

The Creeper is about five doctors, Harry (Hal Holbrook), Mitzi (Lawrence Dane), Martin (Robin Gammell), Abel (Ken James) and D.J. (Garry Reineke) who head out on their “ritual” vacation. This year they have planned to vacation in the deep, dark woods of Canada, at a location only reachable by plane. They are transported there by a pilot, who tells them he will be return in six days.

From the start there seems to be trouble amongst the friends, namely between Harry and Mitzi, that seems to stem from certain career choices that weren’t taken, and career choices that should be taken.

Aside from that, all seems relatively fine until one morning the men awaken to find their boots gone. One of the friends decides to hike to a dam that’s nearby to get help, presuming workers man this dam. The rest of the group fails to keep their cool whilst they await their friend’s return and begin to panic, as not only are they missing a member of their party, their boots are missing, but they also discover a deer head impaled on a pike. This spurns the decision to follow their buddy seeking help. Along the way they learn someone is hunting them, someone who leaves clues indicating one of them knows why they are being terrorized.

Quite frankly, I was not all that taken with this movie. I subsequently learned I was watching a 90-minute cut version. The version Code Red has put out is the 99-minute uncut version, which may be why I was not all that captivated. Adding insult to injury, American Pop’s version looks like it’s simply a VHS transfer to DVD. The night scenes, especially in the final 20 minutes, are simply unwatchable. Nothing can be discerned except for snippets of action, which is why I was not able to make heads or tails out of who was killing the men, or even why.

I have looked around and read several reviews of Code Red’s DVD and may have to buy that version to give The Creeper a re-evaluation. Until then stay away from this DVD. It’s also edited for swearing. Twice Hal Holbrook says, ‘Goddamn,’ and both times the audio drops out.

So,  If you’re looking for more substantial quality, seek out Code Red’s Rituals DVD. If you do, seek it out quick. I have heard rumors supply is finally running low on that title, and when they’re all gone, they’re gone. Code Red doesn’t re-press their movies. Amazon no longer carries it, but it is still available, as of this writing, at DVD Pacific, and DVD Empire.


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