Thursday, October 10, 2013


Every horrorhound's favorite month is upon us, and to celebrate, I'll be dishing out a personal pick from the genre for every day in October. Some will be obvious and rather unoriginal (sorry that I like movies other people like), while some will be a little more oddball and off-the-wall. Some may even challenge your idea of what constitutes a "horror" movie. Regardless, I hope you enjoy the month with some good movies, even if they aren't ones I recommend!

Today's Pick: Creepshow (1982)

Before BatmanDick Tracy, Sin City, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and other attempts at cinematically capturing the comic book aesthetic existed, there was Creepshow: a masterful interpretation of the classic EC horror comics that ran during the 1950's. Not only did they attempt (and succeed) to bring the tone of the comics to the screen, but also the vivid visual component that was a hallmark of the publication. The best part about this adaptation was that it was being handled by three titans of the genre who all were raised on the comics themselves: George Romero would be directing, Stephen King would be writing the script, and Tom Savini would handle the effects. It's the kind of rare alignment of talent and timing that can only produce a masterpiece, and Creepshow is definitely that.

Just like your favorite issues of Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, or The Haunt of Fear, the film is an anthology piece, offering five (six counting the wraparound tale) fiendish fables for you to digest. "Father's Day": A family reunion on the titular holiday turns ghastly when the long dead patriarch shows up, demanding his annual helping of cake. "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill": A hapless hillbilly (Stephen King) stumbles upon a meteor from another world. "Something to Tide You Over": A jealous husband (Leslie Nielsen) takes revenge on his cheating wife and her lover by burying them neck deep in the shoreline, just as the tide is rolling in. "The Crate": A mysterious box is discovered under a staircase, and its contents include something that was better left undisturbed. "They're Creeping Up On You!": A reclusive business tycoon who lives in a germ-free apartment gets his comeuppance when his pristine home is invaded by some of nature's creepiest crawlies.

The filmmakers' boyish affection for the gleefully macabre is oozing out of every frame of this picture. From the stylized graphics meant to evoke comic book panels to the hyper-colorful lighting scheme, this is a movie that knows exactly what it is and is damn proud. Even all the actors are having a ball, and ham things up at just the right levels so that they teeter on the edge of over-acting, but in all the correct ways. The performances are just as fun as the film itself, taking actors known for their serious demeanor and letting them be as wild as they want.

This was the first really big budget George Romero had to work with, and it shows on every frame. It's a shame that he became pigeonholed into his Dead franchise, because the variety and expertise on display in Creepshow is undeniably a master's work. All of that is bolstered by some of Tom Savini's absolute best career work. The creatures pop off the screen and each get their own bit of distinctive flair, making them impossible to forget. Stephen King is no slouch either, turning in a script that balances trashy, terrifying and hilarious in the way only EC comics and its peers knew how. King also provides one of the film's best performances, which might be the movie's most pleasant surprise. Even the score by John Harrison (who would later work on that other EC comics adaptation, HBO's Tales from the Crypt) is incredible, managing to be simple yet incredibly versatile. Every aspect of this film is tailor-made to tickle the heart and guts of every horrorhound.

Since this is an anthology film, some segments are bound to seem stronger than others, but none of them are even close to being bad, which is astoundingly rare for this kind of movie. They all work wonderfully, and you have plenty of favorites to choose from (please don't ask me to pick. I love them all!). Creepshow is one of the top five best horror movies to come out of the eighties, a decade full of worthy entries in the genre. I argue that it is Criterion Collection levels of excellence and importance, especially when you reflect on the overabundance of comic book films in modern American cinema today. None of them would exist if it wasn't for this ghoulish fan film, crafted by people who loved and respected their source inspiration. This is a must see.

Tomorrow, we travel to a mysterious land where the monsters are the heroes. Care to take a guess?

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