Creepshow (1982)

creepshow1

“An anthology which tells five terrifying tales based on the E.C. horror comic books of the 1950s.” — IMDb

Oh man, you guys, THIS WAS SO MUCH FUN TO WATCH. Like grinning from ear to ear for most of it. Directed by George A. Romero and written by Stephen King (both his screenwriting debut AND his acting debut, as he stars in the second story), what’s not to love? The entire anthology is an homage to the EC and DC horror comics of the 50’s, and Romero made sure some of that imagery came through with each story starting and ending with the comic book illustration version. The collection is also framed in the premise of a young boy – Stephen King’s actual son, Joe – being scolded for reading such nasty comics. The characters in the story are perfect caricatures, intentionally going above and beyond more subtle acting into something much more ridiculous. I’ll go story by story for my more specific reviews…

#1: Father’s Day – If you remember one thing about this collection, you remember Nathan Grantham (Jon Lormer) – the crabby, abusive father – moaning “Bedeliaaaaa, you bitch!” and wanting his Father’s Day cake. It’s so absurd that it’s hilarious, and yet, true to any good black comedy, you have the very real and disturbing topics of lifelong abuse, alcoholism, and planned murder. You THINK it’s the silliest story of all (though dad coming out with Sylvia’s severed head on a plate is pretty awesome), until you see the next one…

#2: The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill – This is the one story where we get to see Stephen King acting, and it is glorious. He is the perfect backwoods bumpkin, down to the denim overalls and unibrow. He finds a meteorite that has crash landed in his backyard, and his daydream about being lauded at the “Department of Meteors” is just too good. But then he gets some mysterious blue liquid on him – “meteor shit!” – and things start spiraling out of control as he – and everything he touches – becomes more and more covered in these bright green weeds. I love the way they amped up the effect of said weeds with green lighting – it makes the whole yard seem like it’s glowing, very ethereal. But for the silliness in this story, it’s also really sad and kind of terrifying… him dying alone in his home, knowing there’s likely nothing that can be done for him, and shooting himself after his last conversation with his (deceased) father.

#3: Something to Tide You Over – This one was probably my least favorite of the bunch. It’s definitely more psychological horror than anything, which I appreciate, but it just didn’t do much for me. Richard Vickers (Leslie Nielsen) is quite clearly psychopathic as he plans out the torture and eventual murder of his unfaithful wife, Becky (Gaylen Ross), and her lover, Harry (Ted Danson). He lures each of them to his private beach and buries them up to their necks in sand, telling them their only chance of survival is to hold their breath long enough to escape once the tide has come in and loosened the sand. He has also set up closed-circuit TV cameras so he can enjoy watching their torture from the comfort of his luxury beach home. There’s definitely some anxious feelings watching them be buried and seeing them sputter and gasp as the tide comes in and starts to cover them more and more often with salty water. And the ending – with Vickers himself buried in sand, laughing and exclaiming “I can hold my breath for a looooong time!” is quite satisfying.

#4: The Crate – This was another great one. A college custodian finds a mysterious crate that has been hidden under some basement stairs. He contacts one of the professors and they explore the contents of the crate together, only to find it contains an extremely violent and dangerous creature who then proceeds to wreak havoc. This one doubles as both a great monster story – the creature itself is pretty terrifying, both in looks and in the fact that it’s been cooped up for almost 150 years and is now hungry for blood – and a great black comedy, with Henry (Hal Holbrook) seeing the creature as a perfect means to get rid of his drunk, belligerent, and abusive wife, Wilma (Adrienne Barbeau). His daydreams about shooting her to the crowd’s applause and strangling her with a tie are brilliant. He is successful, of course, and is cocky about his disposal of the creature, but the story ends with a good cliffhanger as we see the beast is in fact alive and well…

#5: They’re Creeping Up on You – The best story by a mile. Upson Pratt (E.G. Marshall) is the standout of the entire anthology — he’s ruthless, cold, and living holed up in his hermetically sealed penthouse. The whole thing feels like a bizarre dream, exaggerated in the scenes where he is talking through the door’s peephole. As the roaches seemingly multiply and invade, you feel this kind of suffocation watching his panic and attempts to escape. He locks himself in his panic room but quickly realizes they’ve made their way in there, too, and soon dies of a heart attack. The story finishes when it shows his now-empty panic room and his corpse… which soon bursts open with hordes of cockroaches (one of the freakiest, scariest things I’ve seen in a long time). Brilliant from top to bottom.

Really, do yourself a favor and watch this anthology!

Rating: 7.5/10 | Director: George A. Romero | Writer: Stephen King | Music: John Harrison | Starring: Carrie Nye, Viveca Lindfors, Ed Harris, Warner Shook, Jon Lormer (Father’s Day), Stephen King (The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill), Leslie Nielsen, Ted Danson, Gaylen Ross (Something to Tide You Over), Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, Fritz Weaver, Robert Harper (The Crate), E.G. Marshall (They’re Creeping Up on You)

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