Even as a child Pete Schuermann knew “The Creeping Terror” might be the worst movie ever made.
The 1964 film featured a glorified carpet terrorizing an American town. The story behind the film proved worthy of a movie itself, only it took a while to come into focus.
“The Creep Behind the Camera,” which enjoyed a successful festival run including the recent Screamfest LA, captures the scam artist behind the cult smash, Vic Savage AKA A.J. Nelson.
“He was the classic bullshit artist who could talk girls into anything … and legitimate businesses into everything,” Schuermann tells HollywoodInToto.com.
Schuermann envisioned the film as a documentary, but events worked against those plans. He almost gained access to a valuable scrapbook with images from “Terror’s” production, the kind that would best illustrate the story.
When that fell through, Schuermann started considering a plan B.
The result? A unique combination of documentary-style interviews and narrative storytelling that does its best to capture Savage’s story.
The wannabe auteur behind “The Creeping Terror” didn’t have a lick of talent, and he was routinely abusive to the women in his life. He still was able to convince enough people to fund his horror project. And, as Schuermann points out, “Terror” wasn’t shot on some vacant lot in the middle of nowhere but in Hollywood, land of the slickly produced spectacle.
“He was able to convince people in a town where people knew what they were talking about,” says Schuermann, a New York native who now calls Colorado home.
That wasn’t the only fascinating part of the production.
“Terror” producer William Thourlby recalled running into Charles Manson on the film’s set, later describing him as a “nice guy,” Schuermann says.
One might think the story behind the film, what with its seriously disturbed creator and folks buying into an epic scam, has little connection to Hollywood in 2014. Schuermann begs to differ.
Show business remains full of folks who tell friends and strangers alike they’re in the movie business and are about to make their magnum opus, Schuermann says.
His film’s theme is the power of denial for those who cling to dreams of becoming a movie star without the requisite talent.
“It’s as true in Hollywood now as it’s ever been,” he says.
DID YOU KNOW: You can see “The Creeping Terror” in its entirety on YouTube.