In 1982, a collaboration between Stephen King, hot off Carrie, Salem’s Lot, and The Shining, and George A. Romero, still hot from Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, was a major event. With the team-up of King as writer and Romero as director, the subject wouldn’t have mattered much. However, the fact that it was a modern-day take on classic EC Comics horror stories was more than a fan could ever desire.
While I admire and respect Creepshow (1982), it’s never been one of my favorite movies. Parts of it are extremely entertaining, but with a two-hour running time, it’s always dragged for me. The good news, though, is that it’s like a snowball, gathering speed as it rolls along and culminating in what is my favorite of its five segments. I’m more inclined to return to it for its specific segments rather than for the entire film.
My favorite thing about a horror anthology is the wraparound story. In Creepshow, I never remember that until the end. During the beginning, when mean old dad, Stan (Tom Atkins) confiscates his son’s comic book, I forget that it will later be discovered in the trash by garbagemen Marty Schiff and Tom Savini, and that his son, Billy (King’s son, Joe Hill), will find revenge within its pages in an advertisement for a voodoo doll.
The first (Father’s Day) and third (Something to Tide You Over) stories could stand to be trimmed. It’s interesting that Romero himself edited Tide because I sometimes feel his movies are also too long and slowly paced. Both take a while to make their points and extend beyond their perfect ending points. At least Father’s Day has zombies and suspense. It feels to me like it’s the most authentic to an EC horror comic.
I love The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill despite an over-the-top performance by Stephen King. He belongs in an outrageous story about a meteorite that rapidly produces lush vegetation and, placed in the center of a long film, provides some comic relief. It also has my favorite ending of the film. As intimate as the story itself may be, it has the best twist and hint of apocalyptic possibilities.
As mentioned, my favorite segment is the last one, They’re Creeping Up On You. It’s the one that most gets under my skin (pun intended.) It elicits a reaction from me, a feeling of pure horror, every time I see it. Although its climax contains the one scene in which I feel Tom Savini’s special effects are lacking, it’s the idea that induces my squirms. It’s the best story for the end because I’m left exhausted and ready for a break.
What, I didn’t mention The Crate, most people’s favorite segment? It’s my second-favorite; however, I think “Fluffy,” the monster, is overrated. He’s great in close-ups, but the long shots reduce its impact. Having said that, I’d applaud any creature that gives the awful Wilma Northrup (Adrienne Barbeau) her due. Overall, I like Creepshow. There are just so many other movies of the era that I'd rather re-watch.
Written by Stephen King
Directed by George A. Romero
Starring Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, Fritz Weaver, Leslie Nielsen, E.G. Marshall, Viveca Lindfors, Ed Harris, Ted Danson, Stephen King
RT 120 min.
Released Nov. 10, 1982
Home Video Blu-ray (Shout!)
Rating 7 slashers (out of 10)