It’s hard to think of two bigger names you could attach to an E. C. – inspired anthology horror movie in the early 1980s. George A. Romero directing from material written by Stephen King? I’d be surprised if at least one horror fan didn’t feel light-headed when they heard the news. But could the movie actually live up to the hopes and expectations of the fans?
Yes, yes it could.
A gaudy, lurid, humourous selection of horrifying tales, Creepshow features a number of tales shown to us from the pages of a comic book that has been wrenched from the grasp of a young lad (Joe King, known nowadays as Joe Hill).
Tale 1 – “Father’s Day” – is the kind of pulpy, horrible story immediately letting you know just what you’re in for. It’s something that you could easily imagine being in those old, beloved, comics and features some fun performances from Carrie Nye and Ed Harris, among others. There are some splashes of blood and a great punchline.
Tale 2 – “The Lonesome Death Of Jordy Verrill” – is a comedic interlude with Stephen King himself playing the main character, a country bumpkin who thinks his luck has changed for the better when a meteorite lands on his land. He soon remembers that the only luck he ever has is spelled “B-A-D” as some greenery starts taking over his home.
Tale 3 – “Something To Tide You Over” -Leslie Nielsen finds out that Gaylen Ross has been cheating on him with Ted Danson. Well, I think anyone would be upset to hear THAT news. Rather than planning a messy separation, Mr. Nielsen comes up with a devious plan that will enable him to get his revenge and set up a payback that, once again, could have easily come straight from the pages of E. C. Comics.
Tale 4 – “The Crate” – A crate, funnily enough, contains something quite terrifying and dangerous. When Fritz Weaver tries to fix the situation he soon finds that he needs the help of his colleague, played by Hal Holbrook. Holbrook sees the peril but, after many years being nagged by his annoying wife (Adrienne Barbeau on great form), he also sees an opportunity.
Tale 5 – “They’re Creeping Up On You!” – E. G. Marshall struggles to keep his sterile apartment free from pesky cockroaches. Which is all you really need to know about this doozy of a final tale.
And then we have the wraparound tale about the comic itself and the young lad wanting revenge against his father, played by Tom Atkins, for taking it from him.
Unlike most anthology movies, this one doesn’t have a dud note in the mix. Maybe that’s to do with the writing by King or the directing by Romero. Maybe it’s to do with the fantastic design work, from the sets to the comic panels to the brilliant creation that the crew called “Fluffy”. There’s no doubt that the great cast helps. And Tom Savini (who also has a cameo role in the film). And the fantastic, often slightly off-key score. More than likely, it’s such a great film because (as with all great films) everything comes together in just the right mix to produce something a bit magical for fans of all those involved.
The older horror anthology movies have their charm, the classic Dead Of Night remaining at the very top of the pile, but Creepshow deserves a place right beside any of them. Fans of the film may also want to check out the lesser second movie but, if you value your eyes and sanity, don’t be tempted to check out the dire third film.
DIRECTOR: GEORGE A. ROMERO
WROTER: STEPHEN KING
STARS: HAL HOLBROOK, ADRIENNE BARBEAU, STEPHEN KING, FRITZ WEAVER, LESLIE NIELSEN, TED DANSON, CARRIE NYE, E. G. MARSHALL, VIVECA LINDFORS, ED HARRIS, GAYLEN ROSS, JOE HILL, TOM ATKINS, TOM SAVINI, WARNER SHOOK, JON LORMER
RUNTIME: 120 MINS APPROX