Movie Review: Creepshow

Posted: September 28, 2010 in Movie Review, Reviews
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Creepshow (1982 Warner Bros. Dir. George A. Romero)

How does one begin to talk about Creepshow? I have to do an above the fold description, but it’s hard to know where to begin. This is a strange celebration of so many things that established wisdom says is bad for you. The horror comics of the E.C. era, anthology films, and of cheap and dirty storytelling. See, anthology movies never work. So says Hollywood. Argument not without some merit, as they rarely find an audience, thus they have poor box office and are difficult to manage artistically. The horror comic scare of demented perverts like Fredric Wertham* are the reason wanna be lawmakers even today try to demonize funny books. And even the short stories that these tales are based on are looked down on by snooty critics who can’t find any merit is works that people might actually enjoy reading. This is just a big bowl of everything that’s bad for you. I guess that’s why it’s so darn good. This is King and Romero doing their best scary-fun work.

*I’m just saying, no one ever though Batman and Robin were gay until this guy pointed it out. We also didn’t know Plastic Man was a phallic reference before him, or that Wonder Woman was a lesbian slut or that Superman was an un-American fascist. The guy was deranged, and a seriously shitty researcher to boot. I honestly can’t decry the fuckbag enough.

What a handsome face.

It’s interesting that there is no introductory card. It just starts right on the house with the pumpkin in the window. One of the reasons the movie works so well is the frame story. A kid gets caught with a horror comic and catches hell for it. When dad bawls him out, the kid protests that Dad has porno mags and hauls off and smacks him one. This is why I love Romero, not only will he show you a kid getting smacked, but he’ll put some red make-up on the kid’s face just to show you dad really hit him hard. From there the ghoul from the front of the comic book shows up at the kid’s window and the look on the young boy’s face is sort of the one of evil ecstasy. This then leads to an animated section where we’re introduced to the comic that dad threw away. The wonderfully drawn stuff really looks like a horror comics that EC used to put out. This brings us to the first story in our um… fiveium? I’m not going to run down each story beat by beat, I like this movie and I think you should see it for yourself.

Thing is, in this cap, she doesn’t look so much scared as scary.

So the first story is Father’s Day, in which a zombie rises from the dead demanding cake rather than vengeance. I’m not even kidding. The story is one of those that is classic horror comic. No reason is given for why the murdered man comes back, or why he picks just then to do it, or even why the only thing on his mind is cake. He just comes back, kills a few people, beheads someone, and puts frosting on their head as an excuse to scare the crap out of a couple of innocent people. We’re introduced to what has to be one of the best visual conceits of a movie I’ve ever seen. In an attempt to recreate the comic book feeling, shots are matted with a layered effect to appear as if they are panels of the comic and transitions are a turned page instead of a wipe. The lighting of the horror scenes become suddenly garish like the shock scenes of the comics and best of all, the shock lines that would be drawn behind a person’s head are recreated through lighting effects. While the joke wears off and becomes simply part of the movie’s aesthetic, it’s hilarious the first time we see it.

Where else do you take a meteor but the department there of?

When the story ends, the last shot freezes and turns into a drawing on the comic page. It then becomes an animation piece that leads to the first page of the second story which is The Lonely Death of Jordy Verrill. The first panel drawing of that becomes the first shot of the short movie. Jordy Verrill starts off a fairly hilarious comedy about a dirt farmer with an I.Q. about the same as his pant size, who dreams of selling a meteor in order to get $200 to pay off a bank loan. Frankly speaking, this is still Stephen King’s finest performance. He should have stuck to the whole Jordy Verrill thing and gone with it, he’s best when he’s pretending to be a moron. We’re also given the legendary line “Meteor shit!” when he tries to pick up the meteor. As Jordy sits through the night, he finds that alien grass is growing everywhere, including on him. While there is some horror involved in the grass growing on Jordy, his imagination keeps producing such absurd images that you have to laugh. It’s funny right up until the end, when Jordy is completely covered and shoots himself with a shotgun. It had been funny all the way along, and then suddenly you’re overcome with pathos. Where it had been funny, it ends on this exceptionally sad note.

If you’re reading this, I never did come up with a really funny gag for this cap.

However, we’re not given too long to think about it before we drop into the third story, Something to Tide You Over. This one is a more serious horror tale, but at least it’s one with reasons for things to happen. A cuckolded husband decides to kill his wife and her lover. The difference is of course, our guy has style and decides to do it by burying the two miles apart on the beach and letting them drown as the tide comes in. To add special insult to the injury, he even puts a video camera and TV so that the boyfriend can watch the wife drown. This is pretty tense on its own and might be considered the real horror of the situation. The fun comes a few minutes later when the traditional horrific thing comes along in the form of the murdered pair back from the dead and get the husband. That lends a sense of justice that many of these stories lack.

All movies should be so informative.

Once again we have the same pattern and enter into the story I don’t like so much. I think my reason for not loving The Crate is that it comes in the wrong spot in the movie. Once you get to the fourth of five stories, the entire movie is slightly starting to drag. If this were the first story and Father’s Day were the fourth, I’d feel ambivalent toward Father’s Day. Either way, this story is fine on its own, it’s just the placement. You’ve got a henpecked professor who discovers a monster in the basement of his college. The monster kills a couple of people and our professor decides to use the monster to kill his wife. It’s very much a wish fulfillment story, which always leads me to wonder about King and his wife. Anyway, the professor and his buddy then decide that instead of going to the cops they would instead toss it off a cliff into the ocean. This works as well as you might expect and it escapes as the story ends. We are supposed to expect that the monster will run rampant and kill everyone in the tri-state area.


The final tale is “They’re Creeping Up On You!” which is a single scene of scary. A bad guy, with an amazing case of OCD find roaches in his hermetically sealed apartment. He then finds more and more until they are everywhere. While he’s having roaches appear everywhere, we keep getting examples of what a bad guy he is. The roaches keep coming until they finally get him. One hardly wishes to express what happens to him, but it turns out that they have climbed inside him and then explode out of his corpse. There isn’t much to the story, but it does freak a person right the hell out.

What a happy lad.

Once that story is done with, we get to see how the frame story ends. A couple of garbage men find the comic book and look over it. They look at the ads in the comic and comment that they can’t buy a voodoo doll because the coupon has already been cut out. We then see the inside of the house and find that the father is experiencing a stiff neck and not sleeping properly. After a moment or two of him being sore, we discover where the voodoo doll went. His son stabs the doll over and over again, as the father grips at his throat in agony. Once this starts the funky colors return, the shock lines and back and hey presto it’s just another story in the comic book.

In the morning, it’s just paper and ink.

It’s not just that Creepshow is fun, it also started something. The movie was pretty successful, and after the movie came out people wanted more. So they put together a little TV show called Tales from the Darkside, which as we’ve discussed before, brought about the anthology TV boom of the 80s. There was a sequel that followed in ’87, to less fame and success sadly. So how do I rate this? In all honesty? When comparing to another movie that we’ve all grown to know and love? I fully recommend you get it. However, what I really suggest is that you buy a region free DVD player and get the far superior dvd from England. Now that I’ve spent about $300 of your money for you, let’s have the score…

Official Score: 90 Degrees on the Graffiti Bridge Scale.

And one for the road.

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