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6.12.14

Creepshow (1982)


Director: George A. Romero
Starring: Ed Harris, Leslie Nielsen, Ted Danson, E.G. Marshall, Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins, Stephen King
Rated R

This horror anthology from director George A. Romero and writer Stephen King is an unabashed love letter to the infamous EC horror comics of the 1950's. A boy (Joe King, son of Stephen, aka writer Joe Hill) is confronted by his angry father (Tom Atkins) over one of the boy's prized possessions: a lurid horror comic called "Creepshow." The exchange gets heated to the point where Dad slaps the kid in the face and storms out to toss his beloved comic book in the trash. The heartbroken boy cries over the loss...until "the Creep" appears at his bedroom window. From there the comic appears and introduces us to five tales:

"Father's Day" - The corpse of a cruel and domineering millionaire rises from the grave in search of the birthday cake his good-for-nothing children never gave him.

"The Crate" - The discovery of a crate containing a furry and ferocious creature leads a p-whipped college professor (Hal Holbrook) towards a creative solution for his troubled marriage.

"The  Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill" - A dim-witted farmer (writer Stephen King) discovers a meteorite that oozes a glowing liquid that covers all it touches in a rapidly growing moss.

"Something to Tide You Over" - A wealthy psychopath (Leslie Nielsen) devises a sadistic revenge against his wife and her lover (Ted Danson).

"They're Creeping Up on You" - A mean rich guy (E.G. Marshall) finds himself trapped in his apartment with a horde of ornery cockroaches.

CREEPSHOW isn't remotely scary, nor is it trying to be. Instead it sets out to capture the macabre tone of comics like "Tales from the Crypt" and "Vault of Horror." Like its source of inspiration, each story features a revenge theme in which characters experience an unexpected, and grisly, fate. The script by Stephen King has been often criticized as being too simplistic and heavy-handed. The critics are missing the point -- the old EC comics were basically simple morality tales in which a clear villain paid a horrible price for their misdeeds. There was nothing subtle about them, and they were more about setting up a shocking payoff than exploring complex themes. To that end, King perfectly captures the vibe of the influential comics. Meanwhile, George Romero incorporates a a colorful, comic-inspired visual style throughout the film that perfectly complements King's stories. It's a fun and unique way of making viewers feel like they're thumbing through the pages of a lurid horror comic, and it's unlike anything Romero has done before or since.

For my money, the person who really shines here is special effects wizard Tom Savini. Having made his name as the "Master of Gore" (MANIAC, DAWN OF THE DEAD, THE BURNING, THE PROWLER, etc), Savini was given the chance to spread his wings and tackle a slew of creature effects for the first time. From the very detailed corpse in "Father's Day" to the awesome puppetry behind Fluffy the crate creature, Savini shows that he is capable of so much more than blood-and-guts.

If you're over the age of five, there's little chance CREEPSHOW is going to frighten you in any way. However, it's the only collaboration between three masters of their craft at the height of their respective powers. It's also a fun movie that demonstrates just how much love the three have for the comic books of their youth. Over thirty years after its release, CREEPSHOW remains on of the finest horror anthology films ever made.




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