“Alfred Eaker’s Fringe Cinema” is a column published on Thursdays covering truly independent cinema: the stuff that’s so far under the public radar it may as well be underground. The folks making these films may be starving artists today, but they may be recognized as geniuses tomorrow. We hope to look like geniuses ourselves by being the first to cover them.
The 1950s through the 1970s was the era of the horror host/horror personality. Most of these characters, from Vampira on down to Sammy Terry, mixed horror and humor quite effectively and the period is widely considered to be a golden age of horror personalities. Since then, Elvira, of course, made a name for herself. Now, with the post myspace/facebook/youtube age, there has been a re-emergence, indeed a plethora of new horror personalities. Predictably, most of these are pale, watered down imitations of the originals with no unique personality of their own, with a notable exception: Creeporia.
Creeporia, Episode 1, part 1: other episodes can be viewed at creeporia.com
Creeporia is the creation of producer John Semper Jr, who has an extensive 30 year resume, mostly in animation, which includes work with Jim Henson, George Lucas, and Stan Lee and shows such as the animated “SpiderMan” and “Static Shock.” Semper’s sincere affection for the classic Roger Corman school of horror humor is quite apparent in his Creeporia creation and the shows he has crafted for her.
Semper’s experience has taught him plenty and he’s savvy enough to know that the key lies in a well developed character with a unique personality. He could not have done better in actress Kommerina DeYoung. Young’s Creeporia thankfully does not resort to being yet another in the Vegas imitators’ school for Elvira, Vampira and those who came before. Creeporia is her own ghoul and she is sexy, but never resorts to caricatured farce. Creeporia lives (sort of) in a crypt with a host of characters, such as a skull named Bonaparte (aka Boney), a corpse named Maurice, a spider named Harlan, a bat named Batty, and more. There’s a bit of the zany Pee Wee Playhouse atmosphere in the environment and characters, albeit grand guignol style.
300 years ago Creeporia was a famous stage actress who became her ghoul self via a curse, which she can only end by finding true love or by becoming a famous actress once more. Semper cleverly utilizes clips from public domain films, such as 1927’s The Cat and The Canary, or the Bela Lugosi Monogram quickie The Corpse Vanishes (with Creeporia amusingly taking the place of Luana Walters) to show Creeporia’s vain attempts to rekindle her fame (ala Steve Martin’s Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid--from that way back, golden, much missed period when Martin was actually refreshingly original and took chances ). Her attempts at finding true love are just as disastrous, and this sets her up to be a perennial Charlie Brown type, because if she ever actually lifts either curse, that would put an end to The Crypt of Creeporia.
To date, Semper has produced five continuing episodes with the sixth episode coming. The origin of Creeporia is told in the series establishing entry, What’s a nice ghoul like you doing in a place like this?
The Crypt of Creeporia is just plain fun, successfully evokes the old school AIP Horror Humor, and is original enough to never resort to imitation. There’s even an affectionate homage to all time cult fave Ed Wood in Plan 10 from Outer Space (which stars Nick Adams and Whit Bissell with Creeporia), and the highlight of a limbo dance in every episode.
John Semper feels the time is right to rekindle the old school horror humor and feels, with his genuine affection for the genre and years of experience, he and Creeporia are the right combination to do just that. So far, Semper has kept his creation low key, but assures he has larger plans for her. From the episodes produced so far, that is something to eagerly look forward to.