Color, 2012, 84m.
Directed by Scott W. McKinlay
Starring Brian Kolodziej, Amy Wehrell, Gerald Emerick, Jason McCoy, Collin Bernsen
Inception Media Group (DVD) (US R0 NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9) / DD5.1
After moving to get over a bad breakup, young Campbell (Kolodziej) has a tough time getting a job in Detroit due to bad luck and his lack of a car. Finally he gets a job doing auto detailing at a car wash while he crashes at a kinky friend's huse at night. Meanwhile a junky '70s-style van is roaming the vicinity, picking up hitchhikers and potential buyers only for the black-gloved owner to kill them off with a variety of creative sharp implements. Of course, it's only a matter of time before Campbell, who's sick of taking the bus and eager to impress friendly coworker Amy (Wehrell), spies the "For Sale" sign in the van's window and falls into the maniac's trap.
Equal parts splatter shocker and goofball comedy, Creep Van is an unassuming throwback to the days of films like Intruder (with which it also shares one particular plot similarity) that ladled on the old school blood and latex with abandon while allowing the cast to overact up to and sometimes over the point of parody. The plot itself is basically a slasher-fied version of old chestnuts like Death Car on the Freeway, tricked out with a post-recession plot revolving around a downtrodden young guy who can't seem to catch a break.
How much the humor here works will be up to personal taste; in particular, the side plot involving zen criminal Swami Ted, played by Puppet Master II's Bernsen, threatens to derail the story a couple of times but kind of pays off eventually. Of course, the real draw here is the kill scenes, all of which are extremely gory and pulled off with an appealingly sick sense of humor. Spiked air bags, razor-lined seat belts, deadly head rests, impaling windshield wipers... you name the car part, there's probably a grisly twist on it in here somewhere. On top of that there's a pretty abundant amount of T&A, thanks to both the aforementioned roommate's antics and a few other peripheral characters apparently averse to wearing tops. As a party movie, it works like a charm.
Shot on RED cameras, Creep Van looks pretty slick and advances past the previous film by director Scott McKinlay, 2008's Gag (sort of a forerunner to The Collector). The Michigan settings give it a different atmosphere than the usual LA/New York/Vancouver scenery, and while some of the supporting actors don't seem to quite get the tone of the script quite right, Kolodziej does a great job anchoring it all and bouncing smoothly between silliness and outright terror. The DVD from Inception features a solid anamorphic transfer that looks about as good as standard def can probably do with the digital source; you won't find much to complain about here. Audio comes in PCM Stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1 options, and given the pretty basic nature of the sound mix, you might as well stick with the heftier two-channel option unless you really want to hear some bleed through to your back speakers.
Extras kick off with an audio commentary by McKinlay, writer/co-producer Jim Bartoo, editor Gerald Nott, and composer Dennis Dreith, which is pretty amusing throughout and talks about the different tactics to come up with inadequate resources for things like lighting and money. They also point out a montage sequence shot in California and talk about the innovative use of the "dick cam," which should be more obvious when you're watching the film. They also promise a sequel called Creep Van II: Blood Drive, which could go in some pretty novel directions. Video extras start with the seven-minute "Creep Van: Under the Hood," which mainly features McKinlay and Bartoo interview footage interspersed with behind-the-scenes footage (including some nice latex shots) and brief chats with other crew members. The ten-minute "Anatomy of a Van Smash" is a longer look at location scouting for the film, with much rougher camcorder footage capturing how they rammed the van into the front of a house. "Bits & Pieces" spends about two minutes gathering random bits of interview footage and silliness with the cast members, while a pretty innocuous 41-second deleted scene adds a little more to the film's central romance. Last you get the final theatrical trailer and, more intriguingly, a 90-second investor trailer made for $800 in California to pitch the film to potential backers.
Note: A limited number of signed slipcover copies of Creep Van are available from Diabolik.