Review: Creepshow

Posted by Cory Casciato On February - 12 - 2010

When discussing the zombie films of George A. Romero, the 1982 anthology horror entry Creepshow is often overlooked. That’s probably because it offers a very different take on Romero’s signature creature — two of them, actually. The film offers five short stories wrapped in a sixth used mostly as a framing device. Two of these, or a third of the film, are devoted to the walking dead.

The first of the two, and the first proper story segment after the intro/framing device of the kid who loves horror comics, is called “Father’s Day.” It’s a very basic and somewhat slow-starting revenge tale about an overbearing, obnoxious and downright evil father that returns from the grave to kill and eat cake. He seeks revenge on not only the angry daughter that killed him in revenge for him killing her boyfriend, but also on his descendants who he sees as money-grubbing parasites. And, as mentioned, to eat cake — it’s his birthday, see? It does take a while to get going but it’s worth it for both the awesome, moldering zombie that arises from the grave and the slasher-esque kills once he returns.

The father zombie’s head is almost denuded of flesh, maggots and worms squirm in his eye sockets, dirt is encrusted all over him. When he speaks, his voice is grating and rough, like dirt is clogging his throat and his voice box is eroded to almost nothing. He’s pretty much just awesome, and true to the comic-book vision of the film. He strangles one victim, drops a tombstone on one and, best of all, twists another’s head all the way off then serves it as his “cake.”

The second zombie vignette, “Something to Tide You Over,” is the third episode of the film. It’s also one of the best over all, second only to perhaps “The Crate.” In this one, Ted Danson’s character and his girlfriend suffer the wrath of a psychotic Leslie Nielsen, who’s married to Danson’s girlfriend. To punish his straying wife and her lover, he buries them both neck-deep in the sand and lets the tide drown them, filming the whole thing for his video collection. To punish him, they return as waterlogged zombies and return the favor, burying him on the same beach to suffer the same fate.

The waterlogged zombies of this entry look incredible. They have puckered, mottled grey-white and greenish black visages with seaweed hanging from their hair. The use of lighting in this entry is noteworthy as well, as Romero uses bright, primary colored spots that invoke both a comic-book flavor and recall the lighting and colors of Suspiria. There’s also a clever nod to his primary zombie work, when Nielsen’s character shoots one of the zombies in the head and they barely react apart from the trickle of greenish-black ichor that emerges. It seems to be his way of saying, “We’re not at the mall anymore, folks.”

The rest of the episodes contain no zombies but are generally entertaining, especially “The Crate” which concerns a weird monster hibernating in a long-lost crate (and more revenge, naturally). The second episode, “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill” is silly yet still effectively invokes some of the same themes of isolation and self-loathing/fearing transformation into the Other that is one of the centerpieces of the “Dead” films. The final episode, “They’re Creeping Up On You” about paranoia, self-isolation and a really bad case of roaches is probably the weakest and an unfortunate choice to end on. Finally, the framing story is worth a mention — it has no zombies, but it does have a little voodoo, so it ties in nicely with the origins of the zombie.

While it doesn’t hold the same importance in zombie history as Romero’s primary zombie canon, it’s not a film to be overlooked. It’s entertaining and reveals some of Romero’s early influences (i.e. horror comics) and shows his usual skill at blending dark themes with humor, this time with an emphasis on the humor. Personally, it’s also noteworthy as it was  definitely my first Romero movie and almost certainly my first zombie film (I may have seen parts of Phantasm before this, but definitely not the whole thing). It was a childhood favorite and a film I watched many, many times on cable. It’s aged remarkably well and is worth seeing — or seeing again — for zombie fans seeking a bit of contrast and insight into the mind of the zombie master.

Creepshow/US/1982

4 Responses to “Review: Creepshow

  1. Jond76 says:

    I bought this on blu recently but haven’t watched it yet. Your review really makes me want to revisit this. The underwater shot of Ted Danson always creeped me out.

  2. Have to let me know how the Blu looks. I was thinking of picvking it up myself.

    And yeah, that shot of Danson underwater, though completely cheesy and fake looking, is creepy as hell.

  3. Jond76 says:

    Ok. Update. I watched it on blu this morning and I’ll say it’s def worth the upgrade. The only shots that suffer are the optical shots (ie: any shot with a comic pane overlay) but overall it’s pretty damn good.

    You’re right, the movie holds up remarkably well and is very well paced. Except for the Ed Harris dance scene, that didn’t age so well. Ha ha.

    I def recommend the upgrade

  4. […] The zombie flavored ones are Night of the Living Dead, Survival of the Dead and Creepshow (review here). […]

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