Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Halloween Season Viewing: Creepshow

A loving homage to EC horror comics of the Fifties, CREEPSHOW is a colorful, finely crafted entertainment from two guys who really respect and understand the horror genre: Stephen King and George Romero.

In the early Eighties, no one was hotter than King, with a string of best-sellers that Hollywood was quick to snatch up and translate for the screen, often with no apparent understanding of what made them work on readers' psyches in the first place. Director George Romero, whose reputation in the genre had been cemented with 1979's Dawn of the Dead, had recently watched his brilliant, very personal masterpiece, Knightriders, crash and burn in theaters, and was ready to return to the more profitable scary movie genre. The two terror titans had talked for years of doing a project together, and when they finally did, it was a match made in horror film heaven.

In 1982, anthology films had long been out of favor (and still are today), but in CREEPSHOW, King and Romero found the perfect framework within which to place their stories: an EC comic book. Like those classic four-color rags, CREEPSHOW is comprised of five original King stories of varying lengths, all adhering closely to the classic EC formulas of twist endings and supernatural vengeance. CREEPSHOW even visually invokes the look of a comic book, with bright primary colors, superimposed "panel borders," and animated "bumpers" of wind-tossed comic books pages, complete with ads.

From the classic "vengeance-from-beyond-the-grave" themes of "Fathers' Day" and "Something to Tide You Over," to the cosmic justice of "They're Creeping Up On You," or Hal Holbrook's unique solution to marital strife in "The Crate," CREEPSHOW perfectly evokes the experience of reading one of William Gaines' lurid horror magazines. Only "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verril," starring King himself as a dim-witted country bumpkin, doesn't particularly work, since King's character in no way deserves his gruesome fate.

Boasting a cast of familiar faces (some of whom were far less familiar then) CREEPSHOW includes some truly impressive performances, great special make-up effects by Tom Savini, and a premise that is delightful in concept and execution.

Released to theaters in the Fall of 1982 and available on home video and cable TV ever since, chances are good that visitors to this site have already seen this minor classic many times. If you've somehow missed it or you're interested in adding it to your own movie library, the print on the Warner Bros disc is clean and devoid of any obvious defects, and the comic book colors are bright and vibrant. The mono soundtrack is equally crisp and clear.

CREEPSHOW is still available online as a no-frills DVD – at least it's presented in it's original aspect ratio and includes a theatrical trailer (a full-frame, unmatted version is available on the flip side) – from Warner Home Video. The sequel, the inferior but enjoyable CREEPSHOW 2, is also available on DVD, from Anchor Bay in a couple of versions, including a remastered, "Divamax" edition.

1 comment:

Brandon J. Carr said...

Mmm...Creepshow. One of my favorites. I read the comic book adaptation (art by the inimitable Bernie Wrightson) before I ever saw the movie and love both versions equally.