Rather than attempt to avoid charges of cheesiness, Creepshow embraces such a characterization, patterning itself openly on the old E.C. horror comics of the 1950s, those delightful horror-filled books of illustrated wonder which the horror-phobic among the general population brought down with their baseless charges of fragile little mind corruption. The movie is framed around a modern-day father who all but thrashes his son for having brought a Creepshow comic book into the house. Out in the trash the comic book goes, where an animated horror-meister and a cooperative set of wind gusts take us through its pages of old-style, campy spooks and scares. Each of the five stories making up the bulk of this movie are delivered in the form of a cinematic comic book, with the opening and closing of each tale of terror literally presented inside the type of illustrated frame found therein. Each of the stories is good but perhaps not great, enjoyable but not overly exciting. Among a cast of several big-name actors, a certain fellow from Maine comes close to stealing the show.
In Father’s Day, you have your basic decayed dead body crawling up out of the grave to demand the final wish denied him in his final moments of life. This is really the most stereotypical of the five vignettes, although it does offer a modern example of hideousness in the form of Ed Harris dancing. Next up is The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill, wherein a half-wit of sorts discovers that meteorites from the heavens bring with them something more than the prospect of a couple of hundred bucks from the university science department. This story could easily be called It Grows on You. Playing the part of Jordy is none other than Stephen King himself, and I believe he gives a rather remarkable performance. The role doesn’t exactly call for the world’s greatest actor, but King definitely exhibits some natural acting skills in this unprecedented extended foray before the cameras. Something To Tide You Over is pretty good, casting Leslie Nielsen as the jealous husband intent on teaching his wife and her lover (Ted Danson) a thing or two about threatening to take away one of his possessions. It’s rather predictable, but the unusual nature of the jealous husband’s revenge is fun to watch. The Crate is the best of these five stories in my opinion. The action revolves around the discovery of a 150-year old crate inside a university science building. The janitor who finds it is the first to discover the importance of its contents, although he quickly finds himself in no condition to communicate the discovery should he wish to do so. The professor who watches the scene in horror is severely traumatized and runs off to seek the aid and comfort of a friend. One man’s nightmare is another man’s gain, as Hal Holbrook’s hen-pecked character proves. Of course, what would a Creepshow be without bugs? The fifth story provides cockroaches in legions, much to the horror of a hard-nosed, germ-paranoid, bug-hating businessman. Sure, the man’s got a problem interacting with his fellow man, but the hard lesson he learns is a little bit extreme. Bug-haters should be forewarned about the content of this story as it is literally crawling with bugs.
Creepshow is the brainchild of modern horror master Stephen King and well-known horror director George Romero. The format and unique style of presentation of this movie are impressively campy, and the manner in which the stories are introduced is very effective. Creepshow comes as close as humanly possible to becoming a video comic book. Its faithfulness to and nostalgia for E.C. Comics are quite satisfying to those of us whose disdain for would-be censors of such material knows no bounds. Those who would criticize the campiness of this horror film would probably have a hard time understanding that such charges are, in this particular case, indications of success rather than failure. If you like your crypts emptied of animated corpses, your meteors filled with a substance much more significant than metals of different sorts, and your murders conducted with the type of unusual flare that shows how much the perpetrator really cares, Creepshow is a movie that can definitely entertain you.