We all know that this Halloween will not look like other Halloweens from years past. And yet, the month of October waits for us all the same. It is about time we put the spirit of Halloween back into that abandoned department store that we call the year of 2020. So to celebrate, we at Full Circle Cinema put together a curated, month-long series called Screen Screams. This time, we will be covering all things zombies. For the review, we will look at an anthology film for a change, and a great one at that: 1982’s Creepshow.
Creepshow is a celebration of all things macabre, twisted, and the genre as a whole. From horror royalty duo writer Stephen King and director George A. Romero, this film offers everything from living corpses to caged beasts. Taking inspiration from the iconic “Creepshow” comic series, the film is broken up into 5 anthology stories. Also, King and Romero depict each one as a chapter in an issue of the titular comic book. In addition, each story deals with a unique and terrifying menace along with King’s signature character writing. The genres range from creature-feature to grisly body-horror.
Stephen King’s son (at the time) Joe Hill kicks off the film with an introductory sequence where he plays a young boy secretly reading an infamous “Creepshow” comic. When his dad yells at him and throws the comic away, the spirit of the Creep visits the boy’s window to ensure he will still have a spooky night. The camera then takes viewers into an animated depiction of the pages of the book, seamlessly transitioning into a live-action tale.
The first segment “Father’s Day” is quite the opener. During a wealthy dinner party, a family awaits the arrival of their eccentric aunt. Every Father’s Day, the aunt visits the grave of her deceased dad, despite the fact that she was the one who murdered him in a fit of rage. This segment sports incredible special effects from Tom Savini in the form of the reanimated father. Specifically, his decaying face combined with the red and blue stylized lighting truly brings this nightmare to life. The final shot is one for the horror books. “I want my cake” has never been such a scary collection of words.
“The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill” finds Stephen King himself in front of the camera playing the absolutely absurd Jordy Verrill. One day, Verrill stumbles upon a meteor that has landed in his backyard. As a result, he contemplates what he should do with it. In typical King fashion, the meteor has a terrifying side effect; covering everything in its vicinity with disgusting green moss. As Verrill’s residence becomes entombed in greenery, the plants begin to grow out of him himself. King’s performance is absolutely bizarre in the best way. His quips and facial expression really tie the segment together.
“Something to Tide You Over” follows a wealthy man who kidnaps the person his wife has been cheating on him with. His enjoyment of despair and torture leads him to set up a grisly trap on the shores of a private beach. Burying his victim up to his neck in sand, the wealthy man records his fate as he chokes on the rising tide. Afterward, the wealthy man returns to his home to soak up his successful revenge. Unfortunately, his victims rise back from the dead, slugging their way into his large home. The performances in this segment are really strong, with both the antagonist and protagonist offering large and impactful personalities. The undead twist at the end is a wonderful catharsis for an otherwise tense and grounded story. The water-logged voices of the dead are insanely chilling. Not to mention, the makeup is quite killer.
“The Crate” sports one of Creepshow’s most notorious characters: Fluffy the Beast. After a mysterious chest is found underneath the staircase of a college building, a janitor and professor accidentally unleash an ancient bloodthirsty creature. The effects work in this segment is absolutely terrifying. Not only that, every glimpse of Fluffy is ferocious and horror eye-candy. In particular, its menacing eyes and razor-sharp teeth are a brilliant display of creature effects work. This segment has a very high body count and is accompanied by an equal amount of crimson-covered gore.
“They’re Creeping Up on You” is a bit repetitive in the narrative department but its special effects work is extremely captivating. Taking advantage of the common universal fear of bugs, this segment consistently adds more and more roaches to its set. Additionally, the onslaught of small creatures on the main character is a wonderful helping of dark humor. The eventual demise of said character is cringe-inducing, combing disgusting body horror with a plethora of bugs.
After the segments finish, Creepshow throws one more twisted surprise to its viewers. In a wonderfully fun sequence, the little boy (Joe Hill) from the beginning of the story is revealed to have ordered a voodoo doll from an ad in a “Creepshow” comic. With devilish delight, the small child tortures his father by contorting a small doll. As the Creep cackles the world of the film turns to static animation, revealing that even the opening segment was a part of the infamous comic.
Creepshow sports some of the most iconic special effects and costume design from classic horror. Best of all, characters like Fluffy and the Father’s Day Zombie are a mainstay in horror pop culture even now. This film is essential viewing for horror fans of all types. – Noah Levine