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Creepshow (UK Blu-ray Review)

Specs

Specs

Details

Director: George A. Romero
Cast: Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, Fritz Weaver, Leslie Nielsen, Carrie Nye, E.G. Marshall, Ted Danson, Ed Harris, Stephen King
Year: 1982
Length: 120 min
Rating: BBFC: 15
Region: B
Disks: 1
Label: Second Sight Films
Release Date: Oct 28th, 2013

Video

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Type: Color

Audio

Audio: English: LPCM Stereo 2.0
Subtitles: TBA

Extras
  • AUDIO COMMENTARY WITH DIRECTOR GEORGE A. ROMERO AND SPECIAL MAKE-UP EFFECTS CREATOR TOM SAVINI
  • AUDIO COMMENTARY WITH DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY MICHAEL GORNICK, ACTOR JOHN AMPLAS, PROPERTY MASTER BRUCE ALAN GREEN AND MAKE-UP EFFECTS ASSISTANT DARRYL FERRUCCI
  • JUST DESSERTS: THE MAKING OF CREEPSHOW: A FEATURE LENGTH DOCUMENTARY WITH CAST AND CREW
  • BEHIND THE SCREAMS WITH TOM SAVINI
  • DELETED SCENES
  • TV SPOT, TRAILER, STILLS GALLERY

81L04SRItfL._SL1500_I saw Creepshow when it was first released to theatres in 1982. Thirty-one years on, Creepshow remains one of only two horror anthologies of its kind… reproducing the look and feel of William Gaines’ EC Comics – banned in the 1950s for their excessive gore and bloodletting. Had it not been for EC Comics, the Comics Code Authority (which allowed publishers to self-regulate the content of comic books in the United States) would never have been introduced.

The charms of Creepshow and Creepshow 2 (served up by George A. Romero and Stephen King) were their ghastly “just desserts” revenge tales and comic-book-style format (pages fluttering in the wind between episodes, comic panels dissolving into live-action, etc.). I saw Creepshow 2 in 1987 and recall that animated comic book sections connected the episodes. So Michael Gornick’s Creepshow 2 did aspire to have a “comic book look.” The deservedly maligned Creepshow III (2006) has none of these cartoonish elements. Nor does it benefit from the participation of Romero and King. Creepshow III is to be avoided at all costs.

The original Creepshow is one of the most influential films of the eighties, having spawned the 1987 sequel, the TV-series Tales from the Darkside and Monsters, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie, as well as the long-running horror anthology series The Hitchhiker, Tales from the Crypt and its spin-off movies Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight, Tales from the Crypt: Bordello of Blood and Tales from the Crypt: New Year’s Shockin’ Eve. An authorized reboot of Creepshow is in development.

George A. Romero's Creepshow (1982) [Click to enlarge]

George A. Romero’s Creepshow (1982) [Click to enlarge]

On October 28, Creepshow finally makes its much-anticipated UK Blu-ray debut thanks to Second Sight Films. This classic slice of horror gets the high-definition treatment, along with a generous offering of outstanding special features. Unfortunately, there is no news of an upgraded US version from Warner Bros.

In 1982, Romero and King – who were then both at the height of their creative powers – decided to collaborate on a low-budget motion picture after their plans to film the costly ‘Salem’s Lot and The Stand were scrapped.

A more faithful adaptation of Tales from the Crypt than Amicus’ own 1972 Tales from the Crypt movie, Romero and King’s Creepshow even has its own Cryptkeeper – the Creep – spring to life from a child’s discarded comic book to introduce five sinister morality plays.

Creepshow was a step up for Romero, allowing him to work with first-rate talent – a prospect he found slightly intimidating. King wrote the screenplay and starred in one of the five tales of terror – The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill, in which he broadly portrays a brainless dirt farmer infected by a meteorite that lands on his acreage. For the first time, Romero had access to name actors: Carrie Nye, Ed Harris (star of Romero’s Knightriders), Viveca Lindfors and Jon Lormer in Father’s Day; John Colicos in The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill (albeit in an uncredited role); Ted Danson and Leslie Nielsen in Something to Tide You Over; Adrienne Barbeau, Hal Holbrook, Fritz Weaver and Don Keefer in The Crate; E.G. Marshall in They’re Creeping Up on You; and Tom Atkins and Joe King (Stephen King’s son – now acclaimed horror writer Joe Hill) in a wraparound story.

George A. Romero's Creepshow (1982) [Click to enlarge]

George A. Romero’s Creepshow (1982) [Click to enlarge]

Each segment begins with several panels of a comic artist’s vision of the story, and then dissolves from the final illustrated panel to a live-action scene that exactly mirrors it. The seamlessness of the effect is uncanny. The acting also finds the right note. These accomplished performers knew how to paint their personalities broadly, edging up to caricature without resorting to buffoonery. Nobody in this movie is a three-dimensional person, or is meant to be. They are all “types” manifesting various character defects. And their lives are object lessons in the wages of sin.

In the Prologue/Epilogue segments, a strict father throws his son’s copy of Creepshow – a horror comic-book – out the window in disgust. In the gutter, the wind flips through the stories in animated sequences, beginning with Father’s Day: As the wealthy and dissolute Grantham family gathers to celebrate the birthday of the late Uncle Nathan, an elderly miser who was killed by his wife because she became tired of his constant complaining, the unstoppable maggot-infested corpse of Uncle Nathan returns from the grave to lay claim to his birthday cake.

In The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill, a stupid hayseed farmer discovers that a meteorite has landed on his property. Jordy sees the potential to make money by selling the meteorite to a local university. However, when Jordy cracks open the mineral from space, he and the farm are splashed with “meteor shit” and overrun by alien weeds, which devour Jordy (driving him to suicide) and begin to spread towards Boston And Castle Rock, Maine.

Stephen King in George A. Romero's Creepshow (1982) [Click to enlarge]

Stephen King in George A. Romero’s Creepshow (1982) [Click to enlarge]

In Something to Tide You Over, millionaire Richard Ames buries his wife’s lover Harry Wentworth up to his neck in sand on his private beach as the tide rolls in, while playing a video of how he drowned his wife the same way. Afterwards, the two waterlogged bodies of the adulterous lovers return from the dead, seeking revenge against Ames, who laughs hysterically as he loses his mind and is in turn buried neck-deep in the sand, still laughing at the impossibility of his fate.

In The Crate, Henry Northrup, a henpecked university professor, discovers someone has shipped a vicious creature to the university in a crate from a 19th-century Arctic expedition. He hatches a scheme to use the creature in the crate to dispose of his drunken, domineering, taunting wife. The Crate is by far the best segment, filled with some wonderful jump scares with the monster in the crate. What is all the more remarkable is that the scary monster created by Tom Savini was distinctly second-rate, as Savini himself admits in the extra feature Just Desserts: The Making of “Creepshow”.

In the final episode, They’re Creeping Up On You, the sanitized, germ-free apartment of miserly, reclusive and cleanliness-obsessed billionaire Upson Pratt is invaded by cockroaches (who may be the ghosts of former business rivals he has destroyed in his rise to the top of the world of high finance). By the way, what’s with E.G. Marshall’s ridiculous Larry Fine hairstyle? It makes Upson Pratt look faintly ridiculous. Dressed in slippers and a bathrobe, Pratt looks like a man with a bug up his ass, which is entirely appropriate.

Ted Danson in George A. Romero's Creepshow (1982) [Click to enlarge]

Ted Danson in George A. Romero’s Creepshow (1982) [Click to enlarge]

Apart from the animated segments, colored lights and cartoonish effects that bring a hint of the dot-shaded panel to Creepshow, even the live-action scenes are filmed in an exaggerated comic-book style, with split-screen, tilted angles, rapid dissolves  and splashes of vivid primary colors. To a certain extent, the stories are predictable clichés, and the characters are broad-brush archetypes at best, but this is part of the intentional high camp of the format, in keeping with the macabre melodrama of the fifties comic strips Romero and King are paying tribute to. Even Creepshow‘s VHS packaging and theatrical posters followed the same comic-book motif. These macabre storytellers were into “branding” before the name was even coined.

On its original release, Creepshow scored at the box office but drew mixed reviews from critics. Creepshow was simply ahead of its time. Since Scream and Pulp Fiction, everyone is a genre-savvy post-modernist, stylishly and knowingly reworking movies that enraptured them as kids; it was eclecticism, obsession with cinematic minutiae and raw talent that launched the lucrative careers of Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and Guillermo del Toro, among other prominent filmmakers.

Extra features on the Creepshow Blu-ray release include an audio commentary with director Romero and special make-up effects creator Tom Savini; audio commentary with director of photography Michael Gornick, actor John Amplas, property master Bruce Alan Green and make-up effects assistant Darryl Ferrucci; Just Desserts: The Making of “Creepshow” (2007)—a feature-length documentary with cast and crew; Behind-the-Screams—27 minutes of archival footage from makeup genius Savini; 15 minutes of Deleted Scenes (Creepshow was shot quickly and very little footage ended up on the cutting room floor); a TV spot, trailer and still gallery.

Tom Savini in George A. Romero's Creepshow (1982) [Click to enlarge]

Tom Savini in George A. Romero’s Creepshow (1982) [Click to enlarge]

In other words… here is everything you always wanted to know about Creepshow but were afraid to ask.

With this stunning HD transfer that further enhances its vibrant color palette, Creepshow is ready for its overdue rediscovery by a new generation of horror enthusiasts.

Details Director: George A. Romero Cast: Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, Fritz Weaver, Leslie Nielsen, Carrie Nye, E.G. Marshall, Ted Danson, Ed Harris, Stephen King Year: 1982 Length: 120 min Rating: BBFC: 15 Region: B Disks: 1 Label: Second Sight Films Release Date: Oct 28th, 2013 Video Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Resolution: 1080p Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Type: Color Audio Audio: English: LPCM Stereo 2.0 Subtitles: TBA Extras AUDIO COMMENTARY WITH DIRECTOR GEORGE A. ROMERO AND SPECIAL MAKE-UP EFFECTS CREATOR TOM SAVINI AUDIO COMMENTARY WITH DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY MICHAEL GORNICK, ACTOR JOHN AMPLAS, PROPERTY MASTER BRUCE ALAN GREEN…

Review Overview

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Video
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Bottom Line

User Rating: 4.8 ( 1 votes)

About Harvey Chartrand

Harvey F. Chartrand is a features writer at Ottawa Life Magazine (www.ottawalife.com). Harvey’s stories have appeared in numerous publications including Cinema Retro, Filmfax,Shock Cinema, Rue Morgue, Scarlet: The Film Magazine, National Post, Jerusalem Postand The Globe and Mail. Harvey is a movie fanatic and has interviewed several film celebrities. To contact Harvey, e-mail him at: [email protected]

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