I’ve been enjoying my Shudder membership immensely, and it’s pretty much become the main streaming service I watch when I’m viewing solo. Needless to say, I’ve consumed a lot of movies on the service already, so brace yourselves for many horror movie reviews (as if I didn’t mostly write those already).
This week, I’m looking at the horror anthology Creepshow (1982). Horror anthologies can vary in quality, with usually one very strong entry, and then some forgettable duds. Creepshow, for the most part, beats the odds.
I don’t remember when I first saw Creepshow, but I was probably far too young. What I do know is that some of its most iconic, comic-book-inspired images have stuck with me down to the present. I didn’t even know they were from Creepshow until re-watching it all these years later, but they’ve been seared into my brain.
For example, the whole plot of “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill“—which stars Stephen King in his first film role—has always stuck with me (indeed, I have an idea for a short story with a similar premise tentatively entitled “Yeast Man”): the idiot farmer slowly succumbing to the weird alien plant. Ted Danson’s submerged head in “Something to Tide You Over” is another memorable image, as is the flood of roaches entering the impossibly sanitized apartment in “They’re Creeping Up on You!”
So, how did it hold up after all these years? Quite well, I would say. I’m a sucker for that early-80s horror look and feel, and it’s all over Creepshow. The practical effects feel so real, which enhances their creepiness.
The storylines—many written by Stephen King—are often quite realistic, too. Sure, “Father’s Day” is ridiculous (and the most forgettable entry in the anthology), but “Something to Tide You Over” is so terrifying because the setup—Leslie Nielsen leading his wife’s lover to his watery grave, methodically and calmly—is so plausible. That part is way more scary than when Ted Danson’s waterlogged corpse returns to exact revenge.
Another one of the film’s strengths is the comic-book style approach to the storytelling. It makes perfect sense for an anthology (one Shudder has put to good use on the new Creepshow television series, a format that really lends itself to anthologizing more than feature films), and George Romero uses comic-book reaction panels to highlight some terrified victims. I’ve noticed in the television series that the show will use comic books panels to transition from scenes—and, presumably, to cut down costs: one episode transitions to the comic book page to depict a helicopter landing in the Arctic, a far cheaper way to illustrate the scene than filming a helicopter in flight. The movie does this well, too, clearly moving from one story to the next using the comic book motif.
All of that being the case, Creepshow still lives up to its tagline: “The Most Fun You’ll Ever Have Being SCARED!”