This Halloween HaddonfieldHorror looks at the Anthology film, bite sized chunks of horror easily crammed into your brain, much like the handfuls of chocolates and candies being stuffed into your mouth, here @MsLauraHall equates Creepshow with online dating in a good way...
If anthology horror Creepshow were an online dating profile, it would be fending off the dick pics. Just look at its vital statistics: Romero directing, King writing and starring, Savini on special effects duty. Even horror writer Joe Hill, aka Stephen King’s son, plays the kid in the linking story. Short of Wes Craven doing the catering, it’s hard to envision a film with a more perfect horror pedigree.
But Creepshow is more than just a list of bitching names. Inspired by the EC Comics of the Fifties, particularly Tales from the Crypt, it promises to be “the most fun you’ll ever have being scared”. The fun part is probably scientifically provable. Few horror films are as thrilling. For those weirdoes whose idea of a good time doesn’t involve blood or guts or screaming, Creepshow might just convert them. The “being scared” part is debatable, but that’s not really the point. If EC Comics made you hide under the duvet, it wasn’t because you were scared but because you wanted to stay up even later devouring cheap thrills by torch light.
As a homage to EC Comics, Creepshow is astonishingly faithful. The linking story about a kid who’s Father throws out his comic gives the film licence to play with animation sequences, still frames and rotoscoping. Changes in lighting and artificial backdrops highlight dramatic moments, often literally framing the horror in a comic book context.
Made up of five stories, I have yet to talk to a group of horror fans who were able to reach a consensus on their favourite. Your preferred Creepshow segment says more about you than the film. It would be great first date question. Fan of They’re Creeping Up On You!? Go in the maybe pile; love The Crate? Don’t hit your door on your way out…
The first of the five is Father’s Day, a tale about a bastard old man who rises from the grave in search of his Father’s Day cake. It’s a serviceable tale, but has far too much exposition and not enough climax. The excellent effects and the killer final image go some way to make up for it. As does young Ed Harris’ dancing. He’s like a groovy lizard.
Next up is The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill. Your affection for this story will depend on how you feel about watching Stephen King gurn for 20 minutes. This reviewer digs it. It’s a pantomime sized performance fused with a Jim Carrey Style energy. It is the least scary story. In fact it has little story at all, but the funny moments hold it together easily.
The next is my personal favourite, Something to Tide You Over. A lean, excellently paced story featuring Leslie Nielsen playing knowingly against type by giving us, a good villain. Nielsen plots to kill his wife and her lover (Ted Danson) by burying them to the neck up on a beach and waiting for the tide to come in. Perhaps one of the only truly terrifying moments of the film is the moment of realisation on Danson’s face that he is actually going to die. It has a perfect punchline of an ending too.
The fourth story is The Crate, which is about a college professor dispatching his foul wife with the help of a mysterious creature. This segment does a great job of building tension but suffers from a weak monster; it looks like Harry from Harry and the Hendersons at a Misfits gig. The plot is slightly scattergun, picking up ideas and then leaving them unresolved. There is also something slightly uncomfortable about a woman deserving to die just because she is loud and obnoxious.
Lastly we have They’re Creeping up on You! Like The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill, its light on plot. However, where Jordy made up for it with laughs, this last segment makes up for it in ickyness. The story is simply bad man vs loads of cockroaches, but said cockroaches are used inventively. The throbbing bedspread and Savini’s fiendishly awesome “money shot” effect at the end of the story make it worthwhile.
Most anthology horrors suffer with uneven pacing a wide variations in the quality of the stories. While King’s script may feel flabby at times, its commitment to sticking to the rules of EC Comics’ brand of horror morality tales keeps the film feeling fresh and consistent. This clear modus operandi, coupled with the usually naturalistic Romero’s surprising talent for the surreal, makes Creepshow a solid, stylish and silly slice of Eighties horror.
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