Throughout the sub genres of horror cinema, the anthology film has always been one of my favorites. Movies such as Tales From The Crypt (1972), Vault of Horror (1973) and The House That Dripped Blood (1971) have always been fun outings. They offered four or five stories that featured prominent genre actors and delivered scares in a short period of time. Creepshow is one of my favorite anthology films of all time.
This feature was a collaboration of director George Romero (Dawn of the Dead) and author Stephen King (Salem’s Lot, Cujo) and is a tribute to the E.C. Comic books from the 1950’s. It presents five different stories all centered around a little boy’s comic book which has been thrown in the trash by his belligerent father (Tom Atkins). The beginning and end of each story is presented in animated format as if reading the comic book before transitioning into live action. Five stories are presented in this film.
“Father’s Day” is the first story. Nathan Grantham, a family patriarch murdered by his daughter Bedelia seven years earlier on Father’s Day, rises from his grave to take revenge on the guests of a dinner party that is held every year at his estate. All he wants is his Father’s Day cake which he keeps asking for while offing the guests. One of the guests is a young Ed Harris (The Abyss, Apollo 13) who shows off his incredible disco moves in one of my favorite cinematic sequences ever filmed.
“The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill” is the story of a backwoods hick, played to the hilt by Stephen King himself, who finds that a meteor has crash landed into his back yard one dark night. King’s portrayal of a country bumpkin is hilarious and very over the top. Hoping to cash in on this discovery, Verrill accidentally breaks open the meteor and comes in contact with the glowing green goo found inside or as Verrill calls it “meteor shit”. A green grass like substance begins to grow around the meteor and on Verrill’s hand where he touched the meteor. Soon his entire body is covered in it as is his house and property outside. Verrill takes his own life and as the story ends the radio weather forecast calls for rain, rain and more rain.
“Something To Tide You Over” stars Leslie Neilsen as Richard Vickers, a wealthy nut case who takes revenge on his cheating wife Becky (Gaylen Ross) and her lover Harry (Ted Danson). Vickers buries the two up to their necks in the sand on his beach property. His plan is to slowly drown the as the tide comes in. He video tapes their deaths for posterity but is soon to find out that revenge is a dish best served…er wet? The two lovers come back as waterlogged and seaweed infested zombies. Richard finds himself buried up to his neck as well waiting for the tide to roll in.
“The Crate”, this is my favorite of the bunch. It stars Fritz Weaver (Re-Animator) as Professor Dexter Stanley. Stanley is called from a dinner party thrown by Professor Henry Northrup (Hal Holbrook) and his loudmouth drunk wife Billie (Adrienne Barbeau) to come to the university to investigate a crate that has been discovered under a flight of stairs. The crate is marked Artic Expedition and dating to the late 1800’s. Soon the contents of the crate is discovered to be some type of Yeti like creature that is rather hungry and eats the janitor and a student. Dexter goes to Henry for help. Henry decides that this crate is answer to all his problems, mainly his wife Billie. Henry cleans up the bloody mess at the university and lures his wife under the stairs for feeding time!
“They’re Creeping Up You” is the last installment and features E.G. Marshall as millionaire businessman Upson Pratt. Pratt is living in a “germ free” apartment which seems more like a hospital operating room. However he finds that he has a bug problem and keeps finding roaches. Before long he is over run with them and trapped in his own “bug free” apartment with no way out. The shock ending of this one will give you the willies for the rest of you life!
Creepshow ends with a great epilogue that features Tom Savini, who created all the effects work for the film, as a garbage man. He and his partner find the comic book in the trash and discover that an ad for a voodoo doll has been cut out. Inside the house of the little boy, his dad begins to suffer extreme pain in his neck while the camera finds the boy in his room jabbing a pin in his new voodoo doll.
What is so great about this film is it’s ability to really take on the form of a comic book. Scenes are sometimes framed in comic book style windows and moments of terror are back dropped with blue and red coloring. You really get the feeling a comic book has come to life and you are trapped inside it’s world of the macabre. The effects work by Tom Savini is top notch. Savini was the king of splatter by 1982 and the hottest effects man in the business. Creepshow, in my opinion, showcases his talents to full tilt boogie. His work runs the gamut with zombie corpses, bloody bullet hits, the crate creature (nicknamed “Fluffy”) and an Alien inspired chest bursting sequence. This movie really captures everything good about going to the movies and leaving your worldly cares behind for an hour and a half. A comic book adaptation of the film was released shortly after it’s theatrical debut and was illustrated by famed artist Bernie Wrightson. This adaptation also captured the feel and look of the old E.C. Comics of the 1950’s.
A sequel was released in 1987 but Creepshow 2 failed to score as well as the original. It was still an entertaining movie but just didn’t capture the look and feel that worked so well in the original.
I cannot end this review without thanking the good folks at Fantasmo Cult Cinema Explosion since they screened this over the past weekend. It was great to see this on the big screen the way it was always meant to be seen!