I grew up the son of a Librarian, and as such have a great appreciation for the printed word. Growing up, I knew all about the work of Stephen King, as my Mother seemed to have a nearly endless supply of his works. It seemed only natural that as i was teaching myself to read with my Conan The Barbarian, and Wolverine comics, that I would gravitate towards the one lone comic book in my Mother’s collection:
Fuck yeah! Easily one of the coolest comic books to ever corrupt a young mind! I poured over each page with fascination and wonder. This was nothing like the safe, sanitized monsters I had seen in cartoons. This was more like the stolen viewings I received of the Horror films my parents watched after sending me to bed. I would sneak out of my room, and do my best to watch the movie in secret, hiding behind the corner, one eye peeping out, trying to remain quiet. Here was the real thing within my grasp! I have a hard time remembering what some of my earliest influences towards Horror were, but this Comic will always stand out to me as a pivotal influence.
It wasn’t until years later that I finally saw the original film, infact I thought the film was based on the Comic. Upon watching it, I was amazed at what a faithful adaptation the comic was, and blown away at how expertly the film captures that atmosphere and feel of the 1950s comics. The score, and lighting cues are fantastically done, and each segment, while short, is an effective piece of chilling film making by George A Romero.
With Romero at the helm, it should come as no surprise that there are two segments involving the dead rising. Something to Tide You Over is a perfectly acted piece showing a rare villainous performance from Leslie Nielson. The other is entitled “Fathers Day”, and has one of the coolest instances of a rotting corpse rising from the grave ever committed to film. Tom Savini is in fine form crafting some stellar gore and creature effects that even hold up by todays standards. As always, Stephen King just had to inject himself into this film, and turns in an utterly Derp-tastic performance in The Lonesome Tale Of Jordy Varell. Even as a kid, I thought this story was stupid. It didn’t scare me, or even creep me out, it just seemed like a situation that would suck to be in. King’s horrible acting doesn’t help the situation either. Another segment that always felt flat to me was They’re Creeping Up On You. If bugs creep you out, then this will make you shit, but aside from that, it always felt like filler, whether it be in the film or Comic.
The real star of the show is The Crate. Holy Fucking shit, this story got to me as a kid! To this very day, I can’t see a wooden crate without imagining some kind of Carnivorous Primate from the Himalayans waiting inside to bite my fucking face off! Fortunately, there aren’t many wooden crates to be seen in my life anymore. Both the comic and the film are simply, Anthology Horror done right. It’s obvious the EC comics were a huge influence, but likely the 70’s Tales From The Crypt, and Vault Of Horror films as well. Curiously, this film would go on to be a huge influence on the Tales From The Crypt TV series, as well as Tales From The Darkside. Creepshow 2 is again based off of stories by Stephen King, this time only featuring 3 segments and a somewhat more detailed frame story, and unfortunately coming off as quite laughably dull. Creepshow III is a clusterfuck of a film that has no connection to the previous two aside from its name. Rather than take the same framing device for the stories, a Pulp Fiction-esque approach is taken.
All in all, I thought Creepshow was a fantastic project. Romero and King make a surprisingly good team, and adding Bernie Wrightson to illustrate the comic was a perfect touch. The film presents a tone and sensibility rarely found in Horror anymore. All too often I find that horror films either take themselves too seriously in trying to deliver frights, or they are too focused on being fun. Creepshow is a great example that genuine frights don’t have to come at the expense of fun. My only gripe is I wanted the Creep to take a more prominent role in the film, more like The Crypt Keeper he is modeled from. All in all, Creepshow is an awesome horror film, with a rich legacy and influence that is still being felt to this day.