Friday, 30 September 2011

"Creepshow" Review

Creepshow (1982)
Dir: George A. Romero

The next time, buddy boy, I see you with a worthless piece of shit like this again, young man, you won't sit down for a week. Remember that! Tuck in!”

Tonight I finally got around to watching one of the many DVDs on my ‘to watch’ shelf; “Creepshow”.

The film is inspired by the E.C. comics of the ‘50s, as well as anthology films like “The Tales from the Crypt” (1972), “Twice-Told Tales“ (1963) with Vincent Price, and Mario Bava’s excellent “Black Sabbath” (1963).

Now, I have to admit that I am a huuuuuuge sucker for anthology movies, especially anthology horror films, so my review will probably be a little bit biased. Having said that, I absolutely loved this movie. It starts with a father, Tom Atkins, yelling at his son for reading a horror comic called Creepshow. The kid is grounded and the comic goes in the bin. As the wind blows open the pages of the comic we see the stories come to life.

The film is split into 5 stories that are book-ended with the Tom Atkins story. The first story is Father’s Day, in which a father returns from the grave to get his Father’s Day cake, which his patricidal daughter never gave him. The scene where the father comes out of the grave was just incredible with inexplicable red and blue light filters, which re-appearances frequently throughout the film. It is weird to see Ed Harris in such a small part, but he was good as usual.
Another motif is the comic book aesthetic, with many shots being bordered by a comic book panel, Also, each segment beginning with a close up of the comic book panel slowly becoming live action and vice versa at the end of each segment.

The second segment is called “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill”. Jordy is the main, and only, character in this segment. That’s why it struck me as odd to have him be played by a non-actor, Stephen King (who also wrote the script for the film). I happen to like Stephen King quite a bit and I thought he was fine in the segment, but it was still pretty risky to have him carry basically the whole film for 10 minutes or so. This was probably my favourite segment because of King’s odd performance, and because I like (in film) when something minor spreads and spreads to become life threatening. The script has a few lines that are pure Stephen King that got a chuckle out of me, like: “Verrill luck's always in. And you spell that kind of luck, B-A-D!”

Ted Danson and Lesie Nielsen star in “Something to Tide You Over”. Nielsen is Richard Vickers, a jealous husband, who forces his wife’s lover, Harry Wentworth (Danson), to be buried up to his neck in the sand below the tide line. I get very claustrophobic even watching films and I can’t stand having, or even imagining that I have, granules of sand between my skin and my clothes, so needless to say this segment really made me squirm. The cast is great and this is my second favorite segment. I’m a bit iffy about the ending, just because it seems to negate the logic and reality of the world that had been set up, but I think the make up and sound effects were great and I liked that you could tell very much at this point that you were watching a Romero movie.

The next two segments were good also, but perhaps less so than the first three.   “The Crate” has Hal Halbrook and Andrienne Barbeau (John Carpenter’s former wife) as well as some cool gore, and the blue and red lighting. “They’re Creeping Up on You” is the last segment and features E.G. Marshall and a shitload of cockroaches. This is something I love about ‘80s filmmaking: when they need to make cockroaches burst out of a man’s skull, they build a prosthetic model of the man’s head and stuffed it full of cockroaches. None of this CGI bullshit. Just imagine The Temple of Doom with CGI bugs. I dare you. Yeah, that’s right, pretty shit, huh?

So all in all, Creepshow was a load of fun. It referenced things like E.C. Comic, Mario Bava and Italian horror films from the ‘70s in a way that wasn’t obtrusive. The film wasn’t really referencing these things, it’s more like Romero was influenced by these films and his filmmaking is therefore informed by them. The one exception may be Tom Savini’s cameo, but it’s very brief and “Spot the Savini” is kind of a tradition I indulge in when watching B-Movies. Besides, his special effects in this movie ruled.

With the month of October in it’s first day, we all must plan our movie playlists for when the 31st rolls around and a good anthology film never goes awry.

Top 5 Things About “Creepshow”
5. Ted Danson’s chin.
4. Leslie Nielsen’s chest hair.
3. The thing in the crate.
2. E.G. Marshall exploding with cockroaches.
1. The cake in “Father’s Day”.

Rating: 9/10

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