Breaking bad 

Local filmmaker creeps out Hollywood Screamfest

Screamfest Horror Film Festival isn't everyone's cup of tea, but "it was like geek paradise for me," says Pete Schuermann, local director of The Creep Behind the Camera.

Earlier this month, he and producer/primary backer Nancy Theken, along with a handful of cast, crew and family members, headed to the California fest for their feature film's Hollywood premiere, complete with "black carpet" walk at the Chinese Theatre.

"It's been called like the Sundance of horror movies," Schuermann says. (Screamfest's advisory board includes such filmmakers as Wes Craven and Clive Barker.) "We were pinching ourselves the entire time."

Especially when they found out that festival staff booked Creep to play as a double feature with The Creeping Terror — the original 1964 film that informs Creep's narrative. Schuermann says he always wondered if their film would have an audience beyond those people familiar with the original; he laughs when relating how festival director Rachel Belofsky told him she'd never heard of The Creeping Terror, and had to Google it to make sure it was real. "They took [Creep] completely on its own merit, which, of course," he says, "is great."

A dark comedy, Creep tells the true story of filmmaker Vic Savage during his making of The Creeping Terror. To residents of Glendale, Calif., Savage billed himself as filming "the biggest and best monster movie ever made." Behind the scenes, however, he turned out to be an extraordinary con artist who not only up and vanished, but whose film has since been labeled one of the worst in history.

Which is probably one of the reasons that the Screamfest viewing of Creep included some luminaries in the "bad movie" realm: the evening's hosts, Trace Beaulieu and Frank Conniff, of Mystery Science Theater 3000, the cult TV comedy series known for satirizing the B-movie genre throughout the '90s; and Golden Turkey Awards co-author Harry Medved.

"The Medved brothers were considered the guys who really got the whole bad-movie appreciation thing rolling with their books in the '80s," Schuermann explains. "And then Mystery Science Theater kind of sprung up from that."

But, he adds, these three had never met until Screamfest. "We kind of created this great meeting of pioneers in the realm of bad film appreciation. I almost started crying when that happened. How cool!"

The "cool" didn't stop there. There was some high-level business interest in Creep after the showing, Schuermann says. A few offers have come in for potential release agreements, but right now the team is taking it slowly and still shopping the film around.

So someday, maybe, after a theatrical run, we'll see Creep as part of an MST3K RiffTrax?

"Our movie is so good, they can't!" Schuermann says, laughing. "I suppose anything's possible. ... They are kinda getting back together. There's talk of doing a new show with a new cast. So yeah, there was some chatter about keeping in touch, and maybe working on some stuff, but nothing formalized in any way."

He adds, "I would hope my movie is so impervious to ridicule." But, he notes, "they did do a riff track of Titanic."


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