Creepshow is more of an event than it is a movie, and it’s one that every horror fan should get to experience. That’s pretty much because very rarely (and I mean desperately rarely) Hollywood lets loose a project that is purely a work of heart.
Every now and then horror audiences are darkly blessed with a bloodcurdling extravaganza of ghastly delights.
It’s as though the sunken city of R’lyeh entombing mighty Cthulhu shifts silently beneath the icy waves of his stygian captivity, as in space above, ancient stars flow into astral alignment connecting every required element and thus allowing horror history to be immortalized on film. Creepshow is one such black miracle.
In 1982 fans were treated to a grizzly smorgasbord of chills and thrills, as well as a few delightful kills, as three masters of the macabre combined their unique talents into one film project and thus gave life to fan favorite anthology-masterpiece, Creepshow.
This unholy trinity of spine-tingling spookiness consisted of the unique visions of beloved director George A. Romero (Dawn of the Dead, The Crazies, Martin), a screenplay written by Stephen King (Pet Sematary, The Stand, IT) and was brought to life by special effects legend, Tom Savini (Friday the 13th parts 1 and 4, Dawn of the Dead, From Dusk Till Dawn) and quickly the little project became a cult classic.
United by their shared love for the old EC comics’ hair-raising library of terror (Vault of Horror, The Haunt of Fear, Tales From The Crypt) Stephen King and our dearly departed George A. Romero unleashed a film spectacular of screams and laughs so fine the Cryptkeeper himself would be proud to regale their spooky triumph.
These men are without any doubt among the finest in terror, and always will be. They not only got how to make us scream, but they uniquely (most importantly) understood how vital it is for an audience to have fun while watching a scary movie.
It’s a precarious line to balance between scares and comedy, one precious few can pull off effectively, and as in many instances it’s proved how wrong things can go. Not so with Creepshow. It testifies to the one-of-a-kind brilliance that was Romero’s creativity and charming humor.
Creepshow is a fun, fun movie. In direct contrast to what we usually anticipate from a horror cinema, this movie uses bright colors and well-timed comedy to deliver its shocks. And that’s part of the secret to its appeal.
In this film, Romero takes us back to a simpler time. Back to when we were kids. When we had to hide our horror comics from our parents as if we were smuggling drugs through our sock drawers. Appropriately enough, the film opens with an infuriated father (Tom Atkins) sickened to discover his son’s Creepshow comic book under his roof.
Well not in this house, little mister! Poor Billy (Joe Hill) gets his beloved comic seized by his cranky dad who promptly tosses it straight in the trash as though it was a sack of rotting rat guts, and thus unknowingly sets in motion darkly playful forces beyond human control.
Five lurking tales of terror await the viewer brave enough to still be found in attendance. A wicked pentagram of dripping horrors, of things that don’t want to stay dead (or not until they’ve had their cake at least), and of rightful comeuppance upon some very naughty scoundrels.
George A. Romero recently passed away at the age of 77, and already our world is an emptier place without him. To those who knew the man best, he was a kind-hearted and gentle human being. Romero was a warm soul with an inspiring grin.
Had it not been for Romero’s contribution to horror over the years it’s doubtful we would have things like Resident Evil – which just celebrated another major success with the release of Resident Evil 7 this year – or the hyper-popular Walking Dead series. In fact, there are now entire franchises as well as careers that owe all of their success to Romeo’s treasured legacy.
Romero single-handedly re-imagined zombies, took them away from their voodoo roots and turned them into the living dead throngs with an insatiable appetite for the warm flesh of the unfortunate living. His ideas were groundbreaking to say the least.
Why do the dead rise from the grave to eat flesh? Romero said they do. Why do you have to aim for the head to kill a zombie? Romero said so, and we do not question these rules. They’re as common and fool-proof as a silver bullet is to a werewolf’s heart. Zombies live today all thanks to George A. Romero.
But there was so much more to the man than his rightly-praised Dead franchise. Let’s be frank here, had Romero only made three movies in his entire life (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead) he could have spent the rest of his days as a friendly convention regular and done pretty well for himself.
But he didn’t follow that path because the man was an artist, and kept himself busy on projects up until we lost him.
Indeed there was so much more to the Godfather of Zombies than zombie films. Creepshow is one example among many of just how fun and talented he was, and proves the creative range Romero had as a story teller.
George Romero also understood this vital point – sometimes we just need to shut the news off (or up), butter up some popcorn, then sit back and forget all about the drama of life through the vibe of a good movie. The kind gentleman gave us so many to choose from and his legacy will continue into the generations to come. His mark on horror will never be replaced or equaled.
So as we end Part I of a Creepshow retrospective, we honor the memory and career of a gentle human being who gave us all so many laughs and screams. You’ll be missed, kind sir. And never forgotten.
RIP George A. Romero.
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