Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My Favorite Era: Creepshow (1982)

1982 was a fantastic year for horror that saw some really classic movies.  My second favorite of the year (we'll get to #1 later) is this fantastic collaboration between George Romero and Stephen King.  Creepshow is an epic five story anthology film that takes cues from the old EC comics from the 50's.  Loaded with great actors, great f/x and a colorful look it stands as one of the best anthology films ever made.
  • The wraparound segment is probably the only real weak link in the movie, in spite of the presence of Tom Atkins.  It makes sense as what better place for an abusive comic-hating parent to be than in a film like this but given how cheerfully outlandish the rest of the film is it comes off as a little too starkly realistic.  That being said, the segue to the opening titles is fantastic.
  • As a side note, my older brother had the comic adaptation of this movie and of course, I snuck a look at it whenever I could.  I think I was five at the time...I'd like to say it didn't affect me but then again I do maintain a blog where I write about horror movies quite often.
Segment 1: Father's Day
  • This is maybe the most atypical of the five stories.  Revenge from beyond the grave, jealousy, despicable characters, it's all there in a sparse take about a murderous past and a snobbishly rich family.
  • The real standout in this segment is the late Swedish actress Viveca Lindfors.  Playing a woman who several years earlier killed her decidedly unpleasant and very rich father, she pouts in a tour de force performance in both the flashback to the murder and a monologue she does by the old man's grave right before he rises from the dead to throttle her to death.
  • I also get a kick out of Ed Harris as the husband of one of the family members.  And no, the fact we share the same name has nothing to do with it.
  • The way the film is shot is simply wonderful, evoking a true comic book feel with panels, wild colors during big payoff moments and just the overall tone.  It works very, very well.
Segment 2: The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill
  •  The comic interlude segment stars the screenwriter and master of horror himself Stephen King as a country bumpkin who gets hold of a meteor and...Well, the title of the segment should tell you how it all ends up.
  • King isn't much of an actor but he hams it up well enough to get the job done.
  • The real highlight here, as with the rest of the film is the f/x work from Tom Savini.  Savini was somewhat pigeonholed as a guy who just did gore but he also creates some fantastic monsters which we will see later and here, he gradually turns King into a giant shrubbery or something.  Pretty cool and creepy.
Segment 3: Something to Tide You Over
  •  My favorite segment, this stars Leslie Nielsen and Ted Danson in a tale of marital infidelity, sadistic drowning and of course, gruesome revenge.
  • Nielsen is great as the jealous husband who also happens to be a rich, sadistic bastard.  Considering how funny the guy was, he makes a very creepy low key villain.
  • I always loved Cheers (I like it more than Seinfeld, actually) and it's fun to see Danson here right before he started the show (the show premiered two months before this was released to theaters).
  • Burying someone up to their neck below the tide line...There's yet another way I would prefer not to die.
  • The long sequence that sees Nielsen get his comeuppance is classic EC.  Romero has always been good at building tension and I especially love the way he holds off on showing the waterlogged corpses of Danson and his lover coming back from the dead to get their revenge.  Great zombie design from Savini too.
Segment 4: The Crate
  •  The best acted of the five segments, this stars Hal Holbrook as a college professor with a shrewish wife (the beautiful Adrienne Barbeau) who finds a way to get rid of her thanks to a discovery made by a rather hysterical friend of his played by Fritz Weaver.
  • The acting on display here is great: Holbrook is his usual reliable self (the man has always been good at playing nice guys who can get dark at when the need calls for it); Adrienne Barbeau is so nasty she almost becomes unattractive (well, almost) and Fritz Weaver does a good job of portraying gibbering terror.
  • Savini's best work comes here in the form of the improbably alive creature found in the crate.  Looking like an exceptionally pissed off baboon, it's all teeth and claws and the film gets really gory here.
Segment 5: They're Creeping up on You
  • The last segment is another one man show essentially as E.G. Marshall plays a reclusive millionaire obsessed with cleanliness and keeping bugs out of his hermetically sealed apartment as well as a miserable racist prick.  Naturally he gets a swarm of cockroaches as company one evening.  Not really a hell of a lot to say here as Marshall is great and Savini really outdoes himself with the way the old bastard is offed.  Add having an army of roaches burst from my chest to the list of ways I'd rather not die.  Brr!
Creepshow is an outstanding, darkly funny and sometimes creepy film that still holds up fairly well thirty years later even if the stories are obvious (come to think of it, they were sort of predictable in the 50's as well).   George Romero does his usual assured job of directing, the production design is awesome and Tom Savini does a fantastic job on the f/x.  It's a real gem.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.