George A. Romero and Stephen King’s frightful life lessons.
DIRECTED BY GEORGE A. ROMERO
Creepshow has always held a special place in the hearts of genre fans. The 1982 horror anthology—which went on to spawn two sequels—wasn’t just the first meet-up between two gods of the macabre, Stephen King and zombie-master director George A. Romero. It was also an earnest formal experiment in making a film equivalent to the pulp thrills found in comics published under the classic EC imprint, the source of now-infamous Eisenhower-era titles like Tales from the Crypt (which hadn’t yet landed its famous HBO series when Creepshow was made).
If Creepshow’s thrills are modest, its heart is nevertheless in the right place. The stories on hand are moralistic fables, nasty little warnings about the soul-destroying consequences of overreaching or indulging one’s pride. In short, they’re tailor-made for the expected audience of preteen boys—like the obstinate tyke in the framing narrative, whose slimy father throws away the comic book that contains the stories to follow.
Those stories are uneven. The opening tale of an eccentric blue blood who puts the family patriarch out of commission one grim Father’s Day is best forgotten, save for a young Ed Harris’ surprisingly robust dance moves. And the less said about King’s starring role in the second segment as a bumpkin who turns into a plant after a fateful encounter with a meteorite, the better.
When it’s on its game, though, Romero’s film is both wickedly funny—as in one story that finds a cuckolded Leslie Nielsen plotting intricate revenge on nemesis Ted Danson—and suitably grotesque. The creepiest, most explosive imagery is saved for last.