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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Creepshow (1982)


Starring: Hal Holbrook. Adrienne Barbeau. Fritz Weaver. Leslie Nielsen. Carrie Nye. E. G. Marshall. Viveca Lindfors and Tom Atkins
Distributor: Second Sight
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 28 October 2013

A boy (played by Stephen King’s boy, Joe, who is now a writer himself) is heavily berated by his strict father for reading what he calls "horror trash", and throws the Creepshow horror comic into the dustbin - where it begins to tell its tales...

Creepshow (1982) is an anthology of mostly Stephen King light-hearted horror tales, linked by the story of a boy and his E.C. comic. The director is George Romero, veteran of many a horror film and mostly known for his zombie features. Make-up special effects are by Tom Savini, who also plays a garbage man in the film's brief concluding link, Voodoo Doll. Creepshow is a nice idea, but it looks extremely dated and only two of the segments are actually of sufficient quality to deserve to be here. It's as if Stephen King had to create his own outlet for the short stories he couldn't place elsewhere. I'm sure that's not the case, because some people would buy his shopping list if he published it, but that's the impression you get.

In Father's Day, a domineering, ever-demanding Nathan Gratham was finally killed by his daughter Bedelia, with the aid of a marble ashtray, on Father's Day years before as he screamed for his cake. Every year since, the relatives gather together in the same house, after the now elderly Bedelia has visited the graveyard. This year she is reunited with Nathan, as he returns from the grave still determined to have his cake. This tale is supposed to be humorous but there are only two moments of note: the final scene which is nicely done, and accomplished actor Ed Harris in an early role, in which he is hilarious as he dances with his character's wife, twitching as if he has an involuntary spasm.

In The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill, a backwards farmer sees a meteor fall and plans to sell it. However, the rock breaks open and he, along with his ramshackle house, is quickly taken over by a plant-like organism. Screenplay writer Stephen King plays the protagonist in an infuriatingly childish manner. I do like the ending in which you see the plant growths spreading out down the road, as if on their way to the next town. This segment more than any other hits humour over the head to the point of silliness.

In Something to Tide You Over, a cheated husband organises a terrible fate for his wife and her lover. He buries the other man up to his neck in sand as the tide comes in, and leaves a TV with a camera link so that the doomed man can watch his lover die further along the beach. However, the young lovers literally turn the tide on the aggressor. This is probably the best of the bunch, with Ted Danson and Leslie Nielsen turning in sterling performances in an edgy little thriller which could so easily have been an episode of Columbo. When the Nielsen character drives home and fixes himself a drink, laughing as he watches the monitor link to the beach, it's a genuinely humorous chuckle which you get caught up in - when it could so easily have felt false. It reminds me of that inexplicably deleted scene in Scary Movie in which a character thinks he is watching a TV film of a female victim being chased by a killer and banging on the front door - unaware it is a security camera he is watching. Sea zombies, if anything, needlessly send-up what has gone before.

In The Crate, when a college janitor discovers a crate marked Arctic Expedition 1836, he calls a professor and together they open it and unwittingly release a terrifying and ferocious creature. When the janitor is killed and devoured, the hysterical professor calls on a colleague who sees this as the perfect way to rid himself of his embarrassing and outspoken wife. This is by far the most well-known story from Creepshow's cannon, but only through the impressive creature creation. In truth, this is the only segment aside from Tide worth watching. Hal Holbrook is convincing as the scheming colleague, and it's testament to Adrienne Barbeau's acting ability that she can be such a bitch here after being a sultry young mum in John Carpenter's The Fog.

In They're Creeping Up On You, a miserly old business tycoon stays locked away in his expensive pristine apartment, fretting about bugs. The widow of one of his employees threatens him over the phone, blaming him for her husband's suicide. In fact, he has no heart and is evil and malicious to everyone. But the continually put upon maintenance man finds the root of the old man's weakness. This segment is a load of tosh, and a complete waste of time. It's so uninspiring that the film would have been improved by leaving it out.

This Blu-ray release of Creepshow is very crisp and bright, but fails to improve my original opinion of it from the 2007 2-disc DVD version. Bonus features comprise a commentary with director George A. Romero and make-up effects creator Tom Savini; Tom Savini's behind-the-screams footage (which is pretty slow); a trailer; stills gallery; deleted scenes; and Just Desserts: The Making of Creepshow. This last is satisfyingly-lengthy, quite fascinating and gains an extra point by itself. There is also now a second commentary featuring Director of Photography Michael Gornick, actor John Amplas, Property Master Bruce Alan Green, and Make-up Effects Assistant Darryl Ferrucci.


Ty Power

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