After his film Martin was screened at the now-named Sundance Film Festival in the late 70’s, George A. Romero was approached by Warner Brothers, who told him about their recent acquisition of a story called Salem’s Lot. The studio suggested that, seeing as though the two films had similar content (vampires in a small town), Romero should meet with the writer of S.L. which, obviously, was Stephen King. They spoke of each others work, and eventually became friends. In the end, Warner decided to release Salem’s Lot as a TV mini series, and the two men parted ways but still kept in touch. Soon after, Romero went to King with the concept of a horror anthology, where each story has a different ‘selling point’ to it: for example, one would be 3D, one would be black and white etc. King suggested to do a collection of stories similar to those seen in the gory EC comics of the 1950’s; publications that both men had grown up reading. After agreeing on the idea, producer Richard D. Rubinstein asked how King how long it would take to get a script written, to which he got the reply of “sixty days”. Lo and behold, sixty days to the day later, the script for Creepshow was on his desk.
Consisting of 5 stories (2 had previously been printed as short stories, and 3 were original pieces of work), the screenplay immediately impressed Romero. It impressed audiences too, as it had a modestly successful opening weekend in November 1982. Seeing as though there’s more than one story, I’ll review each one separately.
Nathan Grantham (Jon Lormer), the miserable old patriarch of a family whose fortune was made through bootlegging and fraud, is killed on Father’s Day by his long-suffering spinster daughter Bedelia (Viveca Lindfors). But this year, even death won’t stop him as he returns to get his annual ‘Father’s Day Cake’.
A great opening tale. Sets the mood for the rest of the film, with lots of comic style transitions and many scenes utilize strong colours well, especially blue. The jumps are predictable yet satisfying, and there’s some brilliant special effects courtesy of Tom Savini (Sex Machine from From Dusk Till Dawn) who brings the father back to life by making him look as deceased as possible. Look out for Ed Harris too, who would go onto star in Needful Things, another King adaptation. It does take a little while to get going however, and it feels like the climax is rushed as a result.
The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill:
Jordy Verrill (Stephen King), a dimwitted backwoods yokel, thinks that a newly discovered meteorite will provide enough money from the local college to pay off his $200 bank loan. Instead, he finds himself being overcome by a rapidly spreading plant-like organismthat begins growing on his body after he touches a glowing green substance within the meteorite.
Yes, that’s the Stephen King. This is very much a one man show, and he surprisingly holds up very well. Although we don’t know much about Jordy, by the final minutes we end up feeling a little sorry for him. Once again, the effects are sublime and even by today’s standards, look convincing. This story was originally titled Weeds and was first published in Cavalier Magazine in 1976. Again, colour is used to great effect here, and it’s unsurprising that green is dominant throughout. Possibly my second favourite tale of the film.
Something To Tide You Over:
Richard Vickers (Leslie Nielsen), a wealthy psychopath, stages a terrible fate for his unfaithful wife, Becky (Gaylen Ross), and her lover, Harry Wentworth (Ted Danson), by burying them up to their necks on the beach below the high tide line. He explains that they have a chance of survival – if they can hold their breath long enough for the sand to loosen once the seawater covers them they could break free and escape.
A serious turn by Nielsen (Airplane, Naked Gun) and an odd but inspired casting choice. I always half expect him to crack a joke, but alas it’s not to be. The effect of the sea washing over the two lovers amazes me every time, and the close ups of their faces exhibit a heightened sense of helplessness and claustrophobia as they are buried in the sand. A little too long though, and interest wanes towards the end. Nevertheless, it’s a fun little moral story and the film just wouldn’t be the same without it.
A college custodian Mike (Don Keefer) drops a quarter and finds a wooden storage crate, hidden under some basement stairs for over 100 years. He notifies a college professor, Dexter Stanley (Fritz Weaver) of the find. The two decide to open the crate and it is found to contain an extremely lethal creature.
For me, this is by far the weakest story. It’s also the most bloated. Yes, the creature looks good for the time it was made, but the story is just so uninteresting that I find myself doing other things whilst its on or skipping it altogether. The subplot of Dexter and his controlling wife is amusing to start with, but grows tired quickly. The end hints at a follow up, but I’d be more than happy for it to rest in peace.
They’re Creeping Up On You!
Upson Pratt (E.G. Marshall) is a cruel, ruthless businessman whose mysophobia has him living in a sealed apartment controlled completely with electric locks and cameras. During a severe lightning storm he finds himself looking out over the steel canyons of New York City as a rolling blackout travels his way. When it hits his apartment tower, the terror begins for Mr. Pratt.
Definitely my favourite. It’s short, to the point and makes your skin crawl constantly. Much like the majority of these stories, it depicts the character getting their comeuppance after mistreating others, and as much as Pratt is a dastardly man, absolutely no one deserves to go through what he does. A must watch, even if it’s just this one.