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Creepshow

Creepshow

By Jamie Suckley • February 14th, 2012
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
CREEPSHOW (MOVIE)
Universal Studios

Release date: November 12th, 1982
Certificate: 15
Running time: 120 minutes

Director: George A. Romero
Writer: Stephen King

Cast: Joe King, Tom Atkins, Iva Jean Saraceni, Jon Lormer, Viveca Lindfors, Stephen King, Lesie Nielsen, Gaylen Ross, Ted Danson, Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, E.G Marshall

Parents nowadays have a lot to worry about: underage sex, drinking, smoking, drugs and gang culture and that’s before they have a heart attack about the content available on the internet. It’s a miracle all children aren’t locked in panic rooms until they reach the age of 18.

In the fifties however, parents had another panic, one which was deemed so harmful that they ended up being regulated and even banned in an attempt to stop them warping the minds of children. The culprit? EC comics. Who’d have thought a comic book was capable of that? Drug dealers around the world would be broke if that was the case.

Following in the footsteps of the Amicus films such as Tales from the Crypt (1972) and Vaults of Horror (1973) and paying tribute to the comics, the anthology of all anthologies was created.

Creepshow

Directed by George A. Romero and written by Stephen King, Creepshow presents five tales of terror in this cult classic horror. Opening with a prologue where an over-dominating father Stan (Tom Atkins) shouts and slaps his son Billy (Joe King) for reading a horror comic called Creepshow, throwing it in the bin in a bid to teach him a lesson. As Stan explains to his wife (Iva Jean Saraceni) why he doesn’t want him reading such filth, Billy is upstairs in his horror decorated bedroom cursing him when he hears a sound at the window.

Its a ghostly apparition of The Creep from the comic, beckoning him to come closer. The film then makes the transition from one story to the next.

Fathers Day pays homage to seasonal horror films where Nathan Granthams (Jon Lormer) a demented old man, returns from the grave to get the Father’s Day cake his murdering daughter Bedelia (Viveca Lindfors) never gave him, in the process killing his family who are meeting at his mansion for their annual dinner in the third Sunday of June.

The Lonesome Death Of Jordy Veryll (based on the short story ‘Weeds’ by King) tells the tale of an unintelligant farmer called Jordy (Stephen King) who discovers a meteor that turns everything that makes contact with it into plant-like mutations.

Something To Tide You Over is about Richard Vickers (Lesie Nielsen) a vengeful husband burying his wife Becky (Gaylen Ross) and her lover, Harry Wentworth (Ted Danson) up to their neck in the sand on the beach and watches as the tide comes in. Before he realises, karma comes back around sooner than he thinks.

The Fourth and longest story The Crate (based on the 1979 short story by King) is about a mild-mannered Professor Henry Northrup (Hal Holbrook) who discovers a creature hidden under the steps of a college and contemplates getting rid of his emotionally abusive, alcoholic wife Wilma (Adrienne Barbeau) for once and all.

Creepshow

They’re Creeping Up On You shows the comeuppance of an ultra-rich ruthless businessman Upson Pratt (E.G Marshall) who suffers from Mysophobia and lives in a sealed apartment where he gets an infestation of cockroaches during a black out.

Then finally the epilogue brings the whole film together where Billy gets his revenge on his father.

What made Creepshow so effective is that is played with our fears and phobias. Who wouldn’t be scared of a creature locked in a box, a room filled with thousands of coakroaches or being buried up to your neck in sand and waiting for the tide to drown you?

“Creepshow deliberately attempted to appropriate cinematically the visuals style of EC Comics”. [1]

The films visuals definitely express the tradition of EC by beginning each segment with several pannels of the comic story, and then disolving from them into the scene exactly mirroring them. This is highlighted through the use of bright colours- blood red, blues and greens, and keeps everything firmly together.

The acting of course is so over the top that it deems almost acceptable and over time has emphasised the desired style. And with special make up effects by Tom Savini you can certanly expect the gore: it doesn’t dissapoint. My favourite story was always Fathers Day which is filled with over the top deaths including a head crushed by a tombstone and the freakiest birthday cake decoration you’ll ever see. It was fathers day after all, it’s only fair he got his cake.

Creepshow

The key themes of Creepshow represent those of the EC comics. In four of the stories the people who are bad get their comeuppance and are punished. The good that have suffered are given justice apart from poor Jordy who wasn’t bad but ends up paying for his stupidity.

“Creepshow did indeed represents a shift in direction in King films, moving away from the psychological impact of Carrie, the conventionality of Salem’s Lot, and the idiosyncratic, private vision of Kubricks The Shining” [2]

This was the first time Romero and King (who were fans of each others work) worked together and Romero later directed the film adaptation of Kings novel The Dark Half (1993). It’s a shame they couldn’t have worked together more to give his books justice on the big screen.

The film was a sleeper hit at the box office and gained a cult status over the years spawning two sequels. Creepshow 2 (1982) and Creepshow 3 (2007), the latter had no involvement from King or Romero and was terrible, even by my standards. It had huge influences on the Tales From The Darkside TV series (1982-1988) and the 1990 film of the same name, which Tom Savini and fans believed to be the unofficial third sequel.

SOURCES:

  • Williams, Tony (2003) The Cinema of George A. Romero: Knight of The Living Dead, Wallflower Press, London [1]
  • Collins, Michael R, (2006) The Films of Stephen King, Wildside Press [2]

Another anthology series, which paid tribute to EC comics and my favourite, was Tales from the Crypt (1989-1996). Recent reports have suggested that a remake of Creepshow is in the pipeline in 3D – God help us all!

With a chilling score by John Harrison, tongue in cheek humour and five brilliant stories, its one film you shouldn’t miss. Creepshow gives you cake- so eat it.

Jamie Suckley

Jamie Suckley

Jamie, editor for Cult Movies at Static Mass, is a 24 year old media studies graduate from Sheffield, who likes nothing better than watching films. If he was to star in a horror film he’d like to be the first one killed (think Drew Barrymore in Scream).

He has a keen interest in horror which started when he was a child. Due to his hyperactive behaviour his cousins made him watch films they thought would calm him down- They were wrong! It was watching Hellraiser and Killer Klowns from Outer Space that his passion for horror began. Over the years this developed into a passion for zombies, madmen, mutated animals and all things gore.

When he’s not working, in his dream world, worrying about zombie epidemics or watching films, he can be found on Twitter sharing his thoughts and bringing his dream world into reality.

You can follow Jamie on Twitter @JamieSuckley.

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