Creepshow (1982): Directed by: George A. Romero Writers: Stephen King Stars: Hal Holbrock, Adrienne Barbeau, Leslie Nelsen, Ted Danson, Ed Harris, Stephen King, Fritz Weaver, Tom Atkins
Getting film and literary rockstars Stephen King, George Romero and Tom Savini together on a single project in the 80s is equivalent to creating a super group with Hendrix, Cobain, Jagger, and Bonham. Yeah, I know…only one is alive and there’s no bassist, but you get the gist of it. The film super group was formed, and in the fall of 1982 they released Creepshow. With five separate short films bookended by comic book animation and a sub-story, the film paid homage to EC and DC horror comics from the 50s; right down to most of them regarding revenge and executions of “karma”—bad things happening to bad people.
The soundtrack that looms behind the scenes is the fabulous creepy synth of the 80s. And it sets the campy mood perfectly. From the beginning of the film it’s evident right away that you’re about to watch something very different. Throughout the movie, intense moments are enhanced by vibrant back lighting use green, blue, and red hues. It works wonderfully and certainly lends hand to the atmosphere they were trying to convey—pure campy, comic book horror. Because they all have their own strengths and memorable makeup, I don’t necessarily have a favorite segment, so allow me to dissect each one:
Father’s Day: Written by Stephen King specifically for the film, this is essentially a ghost story with revenge. On the rich estate of a murdered emotionally abusive father, family members gather for an annual traditional dinner. The abused daughter (and alleged murderer) stops off at the gravestone of the father she killed and spills her whiskey on the grave. Apparently that’s a catalyst for waking the dead, as the remainder of the segment reveals a beautifully constructed, maggot-filled zombie stalking those partying down on his estate. And there’s also cake involved.
The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill: Country bumpkin, Jordy Verrill, played by Stephen King, stumbles across the remains of a meteor that landed on his property. While making an attempt to contain the meteor in hopes of making a bundle of money, Jordy contaminates himself with an ever-growing weed that progresses rapidly, covering his property as well as himself. While Stephen King has made cameos in various films, he’s no actor. That being said, this role was made for him (actually, I think it literally was). King’s performance as lunkhead Jordy Verrill is perfectly orchestrated. It’s rather impressive.
Something to Tide You Over: Whodathunk Leslie Nielsen could play such a believably evil character? Surely not I (there’s a joke in there for the Airplane folks). As far as acting in Creepshow, the talent lies in this segment. Leslie Nielsen plays the victim of infidelity and he’s had enough. His voyeuristic self premeditates a plan that leaves his wife and the home wrecker, played by Ted Danson, buried in the sand up to their chins, while the tide slowly comes in. To satisfy Nielsen’s character’s vengeance, video equipment is set up to catch it all. But like any good horror comic, the sinful couple come back from the dead, seaweed laden and waterlogged, to exact their revenge. The makeup is excellent, with each drowned victim resembling a green thumb held in the tub for days—wrinkled and withered.
The Crate: For most, this is probably the segment that stands out for them, mainly because of Savini’s brainchild, affectionately deemed “Fluffy.” This tale concerns a college janitor who is hungry for shiny things. He runs into a crate that had been under a set of stairs for a century and a half and calls in one of the college professors to have a look see. They open the crate and regret ensues followed by gore galore. The crate’s contents are basically hairy teeth and claws bent on eating humans. The crate is then used to exact….you guessed it: Revenge. A poor soul who happens to be stuck in a marriage with an emotionally abusive drunk-of-a-wife sees his chance at ridding his life of the alcoholic nag and so takes the opportunity.
They’re Creeping Up On You: Out of all the stories, this one is probably my least favorite. An arrogant, rich germaphobe lives in a building that is locked down, has high-tech equipment, and is pure white like some sterile prison. The majority of the segment is us watching what a class-A butthole this guy is (prepping us for the big karma finale), and eventually roaches take over in this seemingly impenetrable, ridiculously sanitized building. And then there’s some gore. As you can tell, I don’t hold the same enthusiasm for this story as I do for the others. It just wasn’t relatable and the situation was completely unrealistic.
The movie ends with a cameo by Tom Savini himself, as the remaining bookended sub-plot finishes the movie off. There are currently three Creepshow movies out, and though the second one is quite a ride in itself, none of them pull off that perfect campy, comic-book feel that the first one does. Highly recommended for those who haven’t seen it. Creepshow is a one-of-a-kind experience.
Check out the official Creepshow trailer: