It's like a peepshow, but scary for a good reason
Happy Father's Day everyone. I hope you got something special for you dad or if you're a dad yourself, I hope you had a good day. And even if you didn't celebrate the day, I hope you enjoyed yourself because you should. My love of horror was passed down to me from my dad and it all started with a VHS copy of Dawn Of The Dead. “It has zombies in a mall,” he said and I have been hooked ever since. The wonderful world of horror allows people to come together and bond. It also has a great tradition of having stories based off holidays. While I'm still waiting for a Hannukah-based horror movie, a story in Creepshow gives me an excuse to review it.
Creepshow is a 1982 horror anthology written by Stephen King (The Shining, It) and directed by George Romero (Night Of The Living Dead, Monkey Shines). The movie consists of five stories and include an ensemble cast of actors and actresses. Tom Savini (Dawn Of The Dead, The Burning) handled the makeup and special effects. The movie begins starts with young Billy, a young fan of the comic book Creepshow. His father, Stan (Tom Atkins, The Fog, Lethal Weapon) slaps him for reading such “crap” and throws the comic in the garbage. That leads into our first story.
Father's Day stars Jonathan Lormer (Star Trek, The Twilight Zone) as Nathan Gratham, the miserly patriarch of a rich, spoiled family that has been involved in illegal operations. On Father's Day, Nathan's daughter Bedelia, who had become emotionally unstable for putting up with her father's demands for so many years, finally snapped and smashed his head in. Years later, several of Nathan's descendants, granddaughter Sylvia, great grandchildren Richard and Cass, and Cass's husband, Hank (Ed Harris, The Rock, Enemy At The Gates) gather on Father's Day for dinner. Bedelia arrives late to pay respect to her dead father at his grave. Nathan's rotten corpse rises from the grave in search of his traditional Father's Day Cake. Will the family be able to survive the zombified Nathan or will he finally get his cake?
I think he needs more than just cake
This story is a good first start for the movie. It starts off a little slow establishing characters, but things really pick up once Nathan rises from the grave. There is some internal conflict from the audience because on the one hand, we kind of hate Nathan because he's a mean, old bastard and now he's a murderous zombie. On the other hand, he was murdered and his descendants are all terrible people. Regardless, the story is fun, if a little simple, with good action and makeup. It may not be the best story in the bunch, but it has it's moments.
“The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill”
The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill (originally titled Weeds) stars Stephen King himself in the title role. Jordy is a simple country bumpkin who discovers a meteorite. He believes that the local college will pay him money for it, which would take care of his bank loan. The meteorite begins to ooze a strange glowing substance which Jordy unfortunately touches. A strange green plant-like organism begins to grow on Jordy's skin and in his home. It grows rapidly and itches him terribly The apparition of his dead father warns him not to take a bath, but the itching is too great and Jordy submerges himself in water. What will happen to Jordy after the bath and is there rain in the forecast?
Green is definitely your color
This is probably the shortest of the five stories, which is fine because there is not much to tell. That's not to say it isn't good, it's just one helpless man's story. While being simple, it creeps up on your (see what I did there?) and is actually far heavier than you'd expect. There is some humor and Stephen King actually plays the part very, very well. If you didn't know he was the writer, you'd think King was a full-time actor. The plant-like alien looks pretty good, especially when it covers the house. One complaint was his father appearing in a vision. It really came out of nowhere and was never really alluded to before or after. Also, I didn't like that the slow, goofy character was named Jordy. That's my name!
“Something To Tide You Over”
Something To Tide You Over stars Leslie Nielsen (The Naked Gun, Spy Hard) as Richard Vickers and Ted Danson (Cheers, Curb Your Enthusiasm) as Harry Wentworth. Richard's wife, Becky (Gaylen Ross, Dawn Of The Dead) has been cheating on him with Harry and Richard plans to take revenge on them. Despite his downright upbeat manner, Richard has snapped and wants to kill them both. Richard forces Harry at gunpoint into a hole on the beach and commands him to fill it with sand up to his neck. Richard puts a television in front of Harry so he can watch Becky, who is in the same predicament, drown when the tide rolls in. Richard, done with the deed, returns to his home to unwind. He is soon attacked by the seaweed-covered reanimated corpses of Harry and Becky. He loses his mind as his attempts to kill them fail. How can you kill something that is already dead?
Frank Drebin gets real
This is probably my favorite story in Creepshow and that is based almost solely on the performance of Leslie Nielsen. I loved his comedy work, so it was great to see him play a really evil character, all while doing it with a smile. It's a really interesting take on the character and it may not have worked if it wasn't done by Nielsen. He is extra awesome when he runs from the zombies and starts to lose his mind. Ted Danson also does a really good job. The story is pretty creative in that sick and twisted sort of way. There is a decent amount of action and a nice amount of fear. The makeup for the zombies could have been a bit better. Maybe it was all the seaweed on them. Regardless, it's still a good story with some great acting.
The Crate stars Fritz Weaver (Marathon Man, Black Sunday) as Professor Dexter Stanley. A custodian discovers a 148 year-old crate beneath a stairwell at the college. He notifies Dexter and they decide to open the crate, unwittingly releasing a vicious, blood-thirsty creature. The creature, which is small and fur-covered, kills Mike and a graduate student who came to help. Stanley, unstable and hysterical tells his story to his friend and college, Professor Henry Northrup (Hal Holbrook, Into The Wild, The Fog). Mild-mannered Henry has been abused and embarrassed by his alcoholic wife, Wilma (Adrienne Barbeau, Escape From New York, The Fog). He sees this creature as a way to finally get rid of her once and for all. Henry concocts a story about Dexter beating up a girl to convince Wilma to come to the school and look underneath the stairs. What will happen to Wilma and how will the creature be contained?
This is another fun story aided by good performances. Hal Holbrook does very well as the beaten-down Henry looking to escape from his terrible wife. Adrienne Barbeau is great as the drunk and abusive Wilma. You really want her to be attacked by the creature and don't feel much remorse. The creature, which was like a cross between a mini-Yeti with a baboon face, looked too goofy for my taste. It's only show a few times, so it didn't kill the story, but it should have been a lot better. There is a good amount of violence and blood to keep us watching during the longest of the stories. At least it felt long because they had to establish Henry and Wilma's relationship before getting to the final act. It's necessary, but because they showed that in the middle of the story, it killed a little momentum. The acting really helped make this a good story.
“They're Creeping Up On You”
They're Creeping Up On You is the fifth and final story in Creepshow, starring E.G. Marshall (Tora! Tora! Tora!, 12 Angry Men) as the ruthless businessman Upson Pratt. Pratt suffers from mysophobia, which is a pathological fear of germs and contamination. He lives in a hermetically sealed apartment which becomes invaded by insects during a thunder storm. At first, he kills off the little bugs, just like the little people he fired and walked all over. He is soon overwhelmed from all sides by various insects. Will he be able to survive.
Donald Trump on a bad day
This is probably my least favorite of the stories. It's not bad, but it just doesn't have the same feel as the others. It comes off more like an episode of Tales From The Darkside than a cinematic story. E.G. Marshall is very good in his role, especially when he doesn't really interact with other actors. It has a few good scares and an overall feeling of dread. If you don't like bugs, you will be extra freaked out because they are literally everywhere. They're Creeping Up On You has good social commentary and some fun moments, but it doesn't measure up to the level of the other stories.
The movie ends with Billy using a voodoo doll on his father that he got out of an ad from Creepshow, with other ads referencing the previous stories. Stephen King is his usual wonderful self crafty this spooky and creative stories while George Romero does a great job directing. There is plenty of action and some real good scares. The ensemble cast really makes Creepshow something special. There is a little something for everyone in this movie and it is highly recommended. You should also check out the awesome horror punk/psychobilly band The Creepshow here and here Happy Father's Day!