If you’re an aficionado of low-budget horror movies, you need a lot of tolerance for cliches, bad acting and chintzy effects. But “Creature,” which—if the press notes, which have apparently been only imperfectly revised, can be depended on—was originally titled “Blood Is Blood,” demands too much. Why such a DVD-ready item has been released to theatres is a matter for wonder.

As with last week’s “Shark Night 3D,” the setting is Louisiana, apparently the haven for monsters and hayseed villains. As usually happens in such movies, a bunch of young folk are cruising to an outing, this time in New Orleans. They get lost and stop at a run-down gas station where they’re confronted by a bunch of vaguely threatening local weirdoes and hear about the neighborhood legend—an alligator-humanoid swamp monster known as Lockjaw. Naturally they decide to take a detour into the woods to visit what’s advertised as the creature’s lair.

The rest of the picture is devoted to the elimination of the tourists, with an idiotic explanation for monster’s origin that involves the whole local community of hicks and a traitor in the visitors’ party. The sacrifice of a girl to the beast is part of the scenario, and much mayhem results, none of it especially well staged, particularly when director Fred M. Andrews and editor Chris Conlee’s apparent love of slow-mo kicks in. It’s used with depressing frequency.

Otherwise the movie is fairly well shot by genre standards, with crisper visuals than usual in such fare. But that virtue is a detriment in this case, because of the decision to show the creature entirely too often in full. That’s an unwise choice, because frankly the makeup is pretty terrible. Lockjaw looks like what it is, a guy running around in a rubber suit, and it’s about as effective as another semi-aquatic critter, The Creature from the Black Lagoon. But that means its quality is vintage 1954.

And of course the human characters are well-worn cardboard figures, with Sid Haig (“The Devil’s Rejects”) again doing duty as the patriarch of a loony clan, here called Chopper, and chewing up the bayou with his prominent teeth in the process. Among the outsiders Aaron Hill and Dillon Casey are okay, but it’s Mehcad Brooks who emerges as the hero, a Marine named Niles who on the evidence here can take a beating and keep on ticking, and he cuts a stalwart pose. The girls, on the other hand, are awful. As kittenish Karen Lauren Schneider is such an irritating shrew that you’re likely to feel relief when she’s bound and gagged, and Amanda Fuller is a bore as party-pooper Beth. But it’s Serinda Swan, as Niles’ girlfriend Emily, who’s the worst. Maybe it’s typecasting for a dippy actress to play a dippy girl, but it’s no fun to watch.

The creature is played by Daniel Bernhardt who, apart from a flashback, gets to appear behind an alligator mask—probably a good career move. For some reason Pruitt Taylor Vince also shows up in a virtual cameo as a crazy town coot. What he’s doing here is anybody’s guess. Another local goofball, the one with only four fingers, is played by an actor identified in the press notes as David Jensen. But in place of biographical data the notes simply say “information pending.” Advice to David: don’t submit it. Protect your anonymity.

A sinkhole features prominently in the final confrontation between man and beast in “Creature.” It would have been wiser to chuck the negative into it.