Stephen King Horror-Thon: Creepshow (1982)
In retrospect, Creepshow seems like a collaborative project that almost seems too good to be true. Two kings of horror, George A Romero and Stephen King, with complimentary styles coming together to produce a fun, highly-stylized anthology horror film with an all-star cast with the likes of Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, Fritz Weaver, Leslie Nielsen, Ted Danson and E. G. Marshall. A horror fan couldn’t really ask for more than that.
That’s probably why so many horror fans rank Creepshow among the greatest horror anthologies ever made along with the likes of Tales from the Crypt, Dead of Night, Black Sabbath, and Trick ‘r Treat.
Creepshow contains five different horror segments. The film is very loosely tied together by an introduction and outro segments about a young boy who attempts to get revenge on his stringent father for making him throw away his “Creepshow” comic books. Between these two bookend segments are five unique segments: “Father’s Day,” “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill,” “Something to Tide You Over,” “The Crate,” and “They’re Creeping Up on You!”
Each segment was inspired by 1950s horror comics like House of Mystery, Tales from the Crypt, and The Vault of Horror. The film is stylized to appear as if each segment is part of a comic book story come to life– with comic book-style animations serving as short transitions between scenes.
What sets Creepshow apart from the pack is its masterful balance between horror and silliness. Every segment mixes both scares and laughs in good measure but generally alternate in focus between each segments. In one segment (“The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill”), you’re watching a backwoods hick (played by Stephen King himself) discover a meteorite that slowly turns him into an alien plant. The next segment (“Something to Tide You Over”), you’re watching a jealous, psychopathic husband (played by Leslie Nielsen) bury his cheating wife and her lover in the sand and watch as the tide drowns them.
Horror purists might find some parts of Creepshow to be a little childish. But for those willing to have some fun with the film’s relentless absurdity, Creepshow offers enough frights and gags to appease film enthusiasts– horror, dark comedy, or otherwise.
In an attempt to re-capture some of the magic of the original, Creepshow spawned two additional sequels (Creepshow 2 was another collaboration between King and Romero, but Creepshow 3 was a straight-to-video dud) as well as a forthcoming television series to be streamed on Shudder, an illustrated comic book based on the one in the film, and even a short web series. But nothing quite lived up to style and creativity that made the original such a joy.