- This is one of the most classic horror movies that treats this film like a living comic book. thanks to Romero’s directing talents. There are interesting shots framed for moments of pending doom and lavish lighting schemes that enhance the fun of watching this movie. On the flipside, during a recent watching of The Warriors director’s cut, Walter Hill claimed his film was always as a comic book. Sadly, his updated treatment failed to convey a tenth of Creepshow does so well and almost ruined his own film. (More on this next month blog.)
Like with most Horror movies, there is one or two elements which the premise of the story works off from. With this anthology, we get three different elements: fear, disgust, and horror itself.
A young boy named Billy (Joe King) gets yelled at and slapped by his father, Stan (Tom Atkins), for reading a horror comic titled Creepshow. His father tosses the comic in the garbage to teach Billy a lesson, but not before threatening to spank him should Billy ever get caught reading Creepshow comic books again. Later after he tosses the comic book away, Stan reminds his wife (Iva Jean Saraceni) that he had to be hard on Billy because he cannot believe all the “crap” that’s in the book. He closes out the discussion with the reason why God made fathers: to protect their ways of life and their children. As Billy sits upstairs hating his father, he hears a sound at the window, which turns out to be a ghostly apparition, beckoning him to come closer.
The element here would be fear. Billy does have an abuse father figure in his life. For me, the scene reminded me of my own uneasy relationship with my biological father. While he never hit me, I was in fear of him and seeing this scene just serve to remind me. And no, I did not see any apparitions outside my window.
(First story, written by King specifically for the film)
Seven years ago, an elderly patriarch named Nathan Grantham (Jon Lormer) was killed on Father’s Day by his daughter Bedelia (Viveca Lindfors), gone mad from the murder of her husband which Nathan orchestrated. Bedelia bashed her father in the head with a marble ashtray as he screamed for his cake. Third Sunday of June, seven years later, his ungrateful, money-grubbing relatives, including Aunt Bedelia (now taken to drinking), get together for their annual dinner on Father’s Day. Nathan Grantham comes back as a revenant to get the cake he never got, and kills off his relatives one by one. The end scene shows an undead Nathan (John Amplas) carrying Aunt Sylvia’s frosting-covered head on a platter, rattling “It is Father’s Day, and I got my cake.”
The element here would be horror and fear. Having your own father come back to life from out of the grave is enough but killing your relatives because you want to have your cake is just too creepy. Little cameo of Ed Harris was cool to see again but I forgot how much white people can’t dance – Ooh the horror.
(Second story, originally titled “Weeds”, adapted from a previously published short story written by King)
A dimwitted backwoods hick (Stephen King) thinks a newly discovered meteorite will provide enough money from the local college to pay off his $200 bank loan. Instead, he finds himself being overcome by a rapidly spreading plant-like organism that comes off the meteorite and begins growing on him after he touches a glowing green substance within (resulting in the sketch’s famous quote: “Meteor shit!”).
Unfortunately, while the story was too schlocky with King’s own performance, there wasn’t much of any horror aspect. Still, there was a bright spot which is due to an uncredited cameo by John Colicos. Those who know there scifi history will remember this name as original Baltar in Battlestar Galactica. And to boot, he was Kor, the Klingon that appeared in the Original Star Trek series and later replayed the same character in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
“Something to Tide You Over”
(Third story, written by King expressly for the film)
Richard Vickers (Leslie Nielsen), a coldblooded, wealthy husband, stages a terrible fate for his unfaithful wife, Becky (Gaylen Ross) and her lover, Harry Wentworth (Ted Danson) by burying them up to their necks on the beach, below the high tide line. He sets up closed-circut TV cameras so the lovers can watch each other die. Richard is in for a surprise of his own when the people he murdered return as waterlogged, seaweed-covered zombies intent on getting revenge of their own.
This story has the most fear out of all the stories. My fear is being so deep underwater, then looking up and the seeing a massive creature looming above me. Hell, I couldn’t go on the Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas ride without a panic attack. Granted this story had nothing to do with my fear except of being trapped underwater. Having re-watched this, I felt the anxiety of Harry (Ted) trying to conserve his air intake. The fear worked for me on this level.
(Fourth story, adapted from a previously published short story)
A mysterious, extremely lethal creature is unwittingly released from its crate in this suspenseful and gory monster story. Hal Holbrook stars as mild-mannered college professor Henry Northrup, who sees the creature as a way to rid himself of his drunk, uncouth, and emotionally abusive wife, Wilma (Adrienne Barbeau). (The monster in the crate was nicknamed “Fluffy” by the film’s director, George A. Romero)
The obvious element is horror. This is one of the best stories from this movie and a wonderful performance by Adrienne Barbeau-bot as “Just call me, Billy”. While the beast looks a bit hokey towards the end, the little bits we see throughout this piece plays into the horror of what is in the crate.
“They’re Creeping Up On You!”
(Fifth and final story, written by King expressly for the film)
Upson Pratt (E.G. Marshall) is a cruel, ruthless businessman whose mysophobia has him living in a hermetically sealed apartment, but finds himself helpless when his apartment becomes overrun by endless hordes of cockroaches.
The final element is pure disgust. Having lived in NY for ½ my life, I detest those cockroach bastard as much as Prat but thank god, I did not end up like him. What is more scary is how much these insects outnumbers us will how much longer they will last long after we’re all gone. You can’t fight nature because it will always find a way to win.
The following morning, two garbage collectors (Tom Savini and Marty Schiff) find the Creepshow comic in the trash. They look at the ads in the book for X-ray specs, a Charles Atlasbodybuilding course. They also see an advertisement for a voodoo doll, but lament that the order form has already been redeemed. Inside the house, Stan complains of neck pain, which escalates as Billy repeatedly jabs the voodoo doll while Stan screams in agony.
As for the theater, Loews American which is now known as The American, was my favorite places to go throughout my childhood in Parkchester. During the summers, they would run Disney movie marathon which was way before the advent of videotapes. What also made this theater special was size of it all. Back in my day, there was only one theater and one theater screen with a balcony to boot. So as time went on, I had watch the remake of King Kong in the 70’s, Popeye, The Howling, and sadly, Superman III.
There was this one time, not in band camp, but rather I received a call from a girl. Apparently, she knew who I was but I could not recognize the girl over the phone. She never gave me her name but was interested in seeing me. So, I picked this theater to meet and I remembered standing there under the marquee with freezing cold rain. She never showed up and she never called again. Ah, junior high memories.
So me being a dork, it was a friday night where I was on my way out to see Creepshow with my friends including Michelle. Just as I was turning off my tv, the trailer for Creepshow appeared. I was so excited that I called up Michelle what I just saw because she of all people would get me. To boot, on the other side of this shot, she lived very close to this theater.