It's not like first-time director Fred M. Andrews doesn't know what he's doing — he opens Creature with a page straight from the Roger Corman playbook: bare breasts. I’m not sure why this particular full-frontal female chooses to swim in a swamp, but it means her death by alligator attack.

Nearly every turn of the Louisiana-lensed flick comes lifted from the Friday the 13th template: a handful of fabulous-looking young people on vacay get lost, stop at some all-but-abandoned hillbilly town, insult the locals, get high and/or drunk and/or naked, and soon find themselves forever embedded in the soil, amen.

Instead of Jason Voorhees, however, Andrews and co-writer Tracy Morse have the cast come face-to-effed-up-face with local legend Lockjaw, a "Southern-friend version of Bigfoot" (inspired by John Gardner's novel Grendel, according to Andrews on the DVD’s bonus featurette). Legend has it that Lockjaw (martial artist Daniel Bernhardt) is a half-man/half-gator mutant who came into existence when the guy’s child bride was snatched up by the reptile’s hungry jaws. The revengeful man not only killed the animal, but became one with it.

"That is the stupidest thing I ever heard," says one girl upon hearing the tale that we see in flashback, and viewers may be inclined to agree. Once Lockjaw was spotted clearly, his face didn’t terrify me as much as it reminded me of Godzilla’s son. At least a species-skewed villain is sort of new for this thing ... as is a character masturbating her own brother.

Other than that minor bit of naughtiness, Creature is predictable, especially with so many of its would-be jolts telegraphed as far as advance as they are. It also requires an inordinate amount of setup for such a cookie-cutter story. Oddly, the movie plays well as comfort food for horror heads recalling everything from Hatchet to House of 1000 Corpses as it goes through its motions.

For a new movie that really turns the slasher premise on its (decapitated) head, run for Rabies,  a recommended thriller of welcome cleverness from Israel, of all places. With Creature, Andrews doesn’t seem interested in exploring new paths as much as he is retreading old ones. However, when that journey is laden with cavalier nudity, the cutting of many body parts, and the reliable presence of Sid Haig, that may be all viewers want after a really rough week, almost ensuring the flick a happily-after-ever life on DVD. —Rod Lott

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Rod Lott

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