Creepshow

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For other uses, see Creepshow (disambiguation).
Creepshow
CreepshowPoster.jpg
Original theatrical release poster
Directed by George A. Romero
Produced by Richard P. Rubinstein
Screenplay by Stephen King
Starring Hal Holbrook
Adrienne Barbeau
Fritz Weaver
Leslie Nielsen
Carrie Nye
E. G. Marshall
Viveca Lindfors
Tom Atkins
Music by John Harrison
Cinematography Michael Gornick
Edited by George A. Romero
Pasquale Buba
Paul Hirsch
Michael Spolan
Production
  company
Laurel Entertainment Inc.
United Film Distribution Company
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s)
  • May 16, 1982 (1982-05-16) (Cannes Film Festival)
  • November 12, 1982 (1982-11-12) (United States)
Running time 120 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $8 million
Box office $21,028,755

Creepshow is a 1982 horror anthology film directed by George A. Romero and written by Stephen King. The film's ensemble cast included Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, Fritz Weaver, Leslie Nielsen, Ted Danson and E. G. Marshall, as well as Stephen King himself. Romero again engaged makeup and special effects artist Tom Savini for this film.

It was considered a sleeper hit at the box office when released in November 1982, earning $21,028,755 domestically,[1] and remains a popular film to this day among horror genre fans. The film was shot on location in Pittsburgh and its suburbs. It consists of five short stories: "Father's Day", "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill", "Something to Tide You Over", "The Crate" and "They're Creeping Up on You!". Two of these stories were adapted from King's short stories.

The segments are tied together with brief animated sequences. The film is bookended by scenes featuring a young boy named Billy (played by King's son, Joe King), who is punished by his father for reading horror Comic books. The film is an homage to the EC and DC horror comic books of the 1950s such as House of Mystery, House of Secrets, The Witching Hour, Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror and The Haunt of Fear.

Plot[edit]

Prologue[edit]

A young boy named Billy gets yelled at and slapped by his father, Stan, for reading a horror comic titled Creepshow. Stan reminds his wife that he had to be hard on Billy because he does not want their son to be reading such "crap." As Billy sits upstairs cursing his father with hopes of him rotting in Hell, he hears a sound at the window, which turns out to be a ghostly apparition in the form of The Creep from the comic book, beckoning him to come closer.

"Father's Day"[edit]

(First story, written by King specifically for the film) Nathan Grantham, the miserly old patriarch of a family whose fortune was made through bootlegging, fraud, extortion, and murder-for-hire, is killed on Father's Day by his long-suffering spinster daughter Bedelia. Bedelia was already unstable as the result of a lifetime spent putting up with her father's incessant demands and emotional abuse, which culminated in his orchestrating the murder of her sweetheart.

The sequence begins seven years later, when the remainder of Nathan's descendants—including Nathan's granddaughter Sylvia, his great-grandchildren Richard, Cass, and Cass' husband Hank—get together for their annual dinner on the third Sunday in June.

Bedelia, who typically arrives later than the others, stops in the cemetery outside the family house to lay a flower at the grave site and drunkenly reminisce about how she murdered her insufferable, overbearing father. When she accidentally spills her whiskey bottle in front of the headstone, it seems to have a reanimating effect on the mortal remains interred below. Suddenly, Nathan's putrefied, maggot-infested corpse emerges from the burial plot in the form of a revenant who has come back to claim the Father's Day cake he never got. Before obtaining his long-desired pastry, the revenant avenges himself on Bedelia and the rest of his idle, scheming, money-grubbing heirs, killing them off one by one, which includes some apparent supernatural abilities such as making a heavy tombstone move by will.

The final freeze-frame shows the undead Nathan in the kitchen triumphantly carrying a platter that is crowned with Sylvia's freshly severed head and covered with cake candles. The corpse gurgles hoarsely at a terrified Richard and Cass, "It's Father's Day, and I got my cake! Happy Father's Day!"

"The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill"[edit]

(Second story, originally titled "Weeds", adapted from a previously published short story written by King) Jordy Verrill (played by Stephen King himself), a dimwitted backwoods yokel, thinks that a newly discovered meteorite will provide enough money from the local college to pay off his $200 bank loan. As the meteorite is too hot to touch, he douses it with water, causing it to crack open and spew a glowing green substance. He then finds himself being overcome by a rapidly spreading plant-like organism that begins growing on his body. Jordy is eventually cautioned by the ghost of his father not to take a bath. But when the itching from the growth on his skin becomes unbearable, Jordy succumbs to temptation and collapses into the bathwater. By the next morning, Jordy and his farm have been completely covered with dense layers of the hideous alien vegetation. In despair, he reaches for a shotgun and blows the top of his head off. A radio weather forecast announces that heavy rains are predicted and the audience is left with the dire expectation that this will accelerate the spread of the extraterrestrial plant growth to surrounding areas.

"Something to Tide You Over"[edit]

(Third story, written by King specifically for the film) Richard Vickers, a wealthy psychopath whose jocularity belies his cold-blooded murderousness, stages a terrible fate for his unfaithful wife, Becky, and her lover, Harry Wentworth, by burying them up to their necks on the beach below the high tide line. He explains that they have a chance of survival -- if they can hold their breath long enough for the sand to loosen once the seawater covers them, they could break free and escape. Richard sets up closed-circuit TV cameras so he can watch them die from the comfort of his well-appointed beach house. However, Richard is in for a surprise of his own when the two lovers he murdered return as a pair of waterlogged, seaweed-covered revenants intent on revenge. He tries to shoot them but they remind him: "You can't kill someone if they're already dead!" The final scene reveals that Richard is now the one buried in the beach, facing the approaching tide (and the sight of two sets of footprints disappearing in the surf). While the tide is rising, he laughs hysterically and screams: "I can hold my breath for a long time!" The frame freezes into animation and the flipping comic pages stop on the title of the next story, one of the longer entries at nearly 30 minutes.

"The Crate"[edit]

(Fourth story, adapted from a previously published short story) A college custodian, Mike, drops a quarter and finds a wooden storage crate, hidden under basement stairs for 148 years. He notifies a college professor, Dexter Stanley, of the find. The two decide to open the crate and it is found to contain an extremely lethal creature[2] resembling a Yeti, or Abominable Snowman, which despite its diminutive size promptly kills and entirely devours Mike, leaving behind only his boot. Escaping, Stanley runs into a graduate student, Charlie Gereson, who is skeptical and investigates. The crate has been moved back under the stairs and Gereson is killed by the creature as he examines the crate. Stanley flees to inform his friend and colleague at the university, the mild-mannered Professor Henry Northrup.

Stanley, now traumatized and hysterical, babbles to Northrup that the deadly monster must be disposed of somehow. Northrup sees the creature as a way to rid himself of his perpetually drunk, obnoxious and emotionally abusive wife, Wilma, whom he often daydreams of killing. He contrives a scheme to lure her near the crate, where the beast does indeed maul and eat her. Northrup secures the beast back inside its crate, then drops it into a nearby lake, where it sinks to the bottom. He returns to assure Stanley that the creature is no more. However, it is subsequently revealed to the audience that the beast has escaped from its crate, and is in fact alive and well.

"They're Creeping Up on You!"[edit]

(Fifth and final story, written by King specifically for the film) Upson Pratt is a cruel, ruthless businessman whose mysophobia has him living in a hermetically sealed apartment controlled completely with electric locks and surveillance cameras. During a particularly severe lightning storm he finds himself looking out over the steel canyons of New York City as a rolling blackout travels his way. When it hits his apartment tower, the terror begins for Mr. Pratt who now finds himself helpless when his flat becomes overrun by hordes of cockroaches. As the cockroaches begin to overrun him, he locks himself inside a panic room, only to find the cockroaches have already infested the room as well. With no way to escape, he is swarmed upon by the roaches which induce a fatal heart attack. Later, as electricity returns to the building, Pratt's corpse is shown in the panic room, now devoid of roaches. However, Pratt's body soon begins to contort, and roaches grotesquely burst out of his mouth and body, re-enveloping the panic room.

Epilogue[edit]

The following morning, two garbage collectors find the Creepshow comic book in the trash. They look at the ads in the book for X-ray specs and a Charles Atlas bodybuilding course. They also see an advertisement for a voodoo doll, but lament that the order form has already been redeemed. Inside the house, Stan complains of neck pain, which escalates and becomes deadly as Billy repeatedly and gleefully jabs the voodoo doll while his accursed father screams in agony as Billy finally gets revenge on him for his past abuse.

Cast[edit]

Prologue and Epilogue
  • Joe King as Billy
  • Iva Jean Saraceni as Billy's mother
  • Tom Atkins (uncredited) as Stan
  • Marty Schiff as Garbageman #1
  • Tom Savini as Garbageman #2
"Father's Day"
"The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill"
"Something to Tide You Over"
"The Crate"
"They're Creeping Up on You"
  • E. G. Marshall as Upson Pratt
  • David Early as White
  • Ann Muffly (uncredited) as Voice of Lenora Castonmeyer
  • Mark Tierno as Voice of Carl Reynolds

Production[edit]

Several screenshots from the film, demonstrating the way comic book imagery and effects were used extensively by director George A. Romero to recreate the feel of classic 1950s EC horror comics such as Tales from the Crypt.

In keeping with Romero's tradition of filming in and around the Pittsburgh area, most of the film was shot in an empty all-girls school located outside Greensburg, Pennsylvania. The school was converted into a film studio, and the episodes "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill", and "They're Creeping Up on You", as well as the prologue and epilogue, were filmed in their entirety at the former school. Filming took place at the Greensburg location throughout 1981.

Several additional locations were also used for filming:

  • "The Crate" - Most of the interior and exterior shots for the university sequences were filmed at Carnegie-Mellon University (Romero is a Carnegie-Mellon University alumnus), with Margaret Morrison Hall serving as Amberson Hall. The backyard party was filmed in Romero's own backyard at his former residence on Amberson Dr. in Shadyside, Pennsylvania.
  • "Father's Day" - Was filmed on location at a mansion in the Pittsburgh suburb of Fox Chapel, Pennsylvania.
  • "Something to Tide You Over" - Was filmed on location at a beach-front residence in New Jersey.

Cockroaches[edit]

The large cockroaches featured in the episode "They're Creeping Up on You" were hissing cockroaches imported from Guatemala. Romero was unable to obtain an export permit for them, so they were imported on a temporary permit. This meant that each one had to be counted before and after each shot, and accurate records kept of the number of dead specimens. The cockroaches were stored in Styrofoam egg cartons kept inside a large van that was filled with high levels of carbon dioxide to keep the cockroaches quiet. In the final scene of the segment, in which the room is almost filled with cockroaches, many of the apparent insects were actually nuts and raisins, as specified by Tom Savini.

Prop appearance[edit]

Attentive viewers can see that the ashtray which Bedelia used to murder Nathan Grantham in "Father's Day" makes an appearance in each of the four subsequent segments and in the epilogue.

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Creepshow was given a wide release by Warner Bros. on November 12, 1982. It started strongly with an $8 million box-office gross for its first five days.[3] In its opening weekend, Creepshow grossed $5,870,889, ranking #1 in the box office, capsizing First Blood from the top spot.[4] In total it grossed $21,028,755 domestically,[5] making it the highest grossing horror film for the Warner Bros. studio that year.[6]

Critical reaction[edit]

Creepshow received mostly mixed to positive reviews from critics. Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars and wrote, "Romero and King have approached this movie with humor and affection, as well as with an appreciation of the macabre".[7] In his review for the New York Times, Vincent Canby wrote, "The best things about Creepshow are its carefully simulated comic-book tackiness and the gusto with which some good actors assume silly positions. Horror film purists may object to the levity even though failed, as a lot of it is".[8] Gary Arnold, in his review for the Washington Post, wrote, "What one confronts in Creepshow is five consistently stale, derivative horror vignettes of various lengths and defects".[9] In his review for the Globe and Mail, Jay Scott wrote, "The Romero-King collaboration has softened both the horror and the cynicism, but not by enough to betray the sources - Creepshow is almost as funny and as horrible as the filmmakers would clearly love it to be".[10] David Ansen, in his review for Newsweek, wrote, "For anyone over 12 there's not much pleasure to be had watching two masters of horror deliberately working beneath themselves. Creepshow is a faux naif horror film: too arch to be truly scary, too elemental to succeed as satire".[11] In his review for Time, Richard Corliss wrote, "But the treatment manages to be both perfunctory and languid; the jolts can be predicted by any ten-year-old with a stop watch. Only the story in which Evil Plutocrat E.G. Marshall is eaten alive by cockroaches mixes giggles and grue in the right measure".[12]

The film has become a cult horror classic.[13] Bravo awarded it the 99th spot on their "The 100 Scariest Movie Moments." mostly of the scene with the cockroaches bursting out on Upson's Pratt's body.[14]

Home media[edit]

The film was first released in 1983 on VHS and CED Videodisc.

A 2 disc Special Edition DVD of Creepshow was released 22 October 2007 in the UK. The discs feature a brand new widescreen transfer of the film sourced from the original master, a making-of documentary running 90 minutes (titled Just Desserts: The Making of Creepshow), behind-the-scenes footage, rare deleted scenes, galleries, a commentary track with director George A. Romero and make-up effects artist, Tom Savini, and more. Owner of Red Shirt Pictures, Michael Felsher is responsible for the special edition, the documentary and audio commentary in particular.

In the United States Warner Bros. sticks to a one-disc set with only the film's trailer. No other special features have ever been released with the Region 1 version. The Region 1 DVD was a 2-sided disc. One side was the 1:85 transfer (widescreen) version of the film, and the other side was the full screen version.

On September 8, 2009, the film was released on Blu-ray. Again the only special feature is the film's trailer.

Second Sight acquired the license to release a new Blu-ray in the U.K., It contains all of the special features included from the special 2 disc edition which was released in 2007. It also contains a new audio commentary with Director of Photography Michael Gornick, Actor John Amplas, Property Master Bruce Alan Green and make-up effects assistant Darryl Ferruci. To be released October 28.

Sequels and adaptations[edit]

Cover for the Creepshow comic book adaptation.

The film was adapted into an actual comic book of the same name soon after the film's release, illustrated by Bernie Wrightson, an artist fittingly influenced by the 1950s E.C. Comics.

A sequel, Creepshow 2 was released in 1987, and was once again based on Stephen King short stories with a screenplay from Creepshow director George A. Romero. The film contained only three tales of horror, as opposed to the original's five stories.

A further sequel, Creepshow III, featuring no involvement from Stephen King, George A. Romero, or anyone else involved in the production of the first two films, was released direct-to-video in 2007 (though it was finished in 2006) to mostly negative reviews. This film, in a fashion similar to the original Creepshow, features five short darkly comedic horror stories.

Creepshow make-up artist and actor Tom Savini has said that he considers Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990) the real Creepshow 3.

Creepshow 4 & Creepshow: RAW[edit]

Warner Bros. is one of the companies currently involved in developing a "revival" (reboot) of the series, to be titled Creepshow 4.[citation needed]

Taurus Entertainment (rights holders of the original Creepshow) have licensed the rights to Jace Hall, of HDFILMS, a Burbank, California company, to produce Creepshow: RAW, a web series based upon the original film.

The pilot episode for Creepshow: RAW wrapped on July 30, 2008. The pilot was directed by Wilmer Valderrama and features Michael Madsen.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Creepshow (1982)
  2. ^ (The monster in the crate was nicknamed "Fluffy" by the film's director, George A. Romero.
  3. ^ Harmetz, Aljean (November 18, 1982). "Autumn at the Movies". New York Times. p. 23. 
  4. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for November 12–14, 1982 - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-08-09. 
  5. ^ "Creepshow". boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 2011-04-02. 
  6. ^ "1982 Domestic Grosses". boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 2011-04-02. 
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger (January 1, 1982). "Creepshow". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2009-01-23. 
  8. ^ Canby, Vincent (November 10, 1982). "Creepshow, in Five Parts". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-23. 
  9. ^ Arnold, Gary (November 12, 1982). "Oh, Horror! Oh, Yawn! Creepshow; Five Stale Vignettes Plus One Redeeming Monster". Washington Post. p. 17. 
  10. ^ Scott, Jay (November 10, 1982). "It may be slow at times, but Creepshow has its share of spookies". Globe and Mail. 
  11. ^ Ansen, David (November 22, 1982). "The Roaches Did It". Newsweek. 
  12. ^ Corliss, Richard (November 22, 1982). "Jolly Contempt". Time. Retrieved 2009-01-23. 
  13. ^ http://www.bloody-disgusting.com/film/3046/userreview
  14. ^ "The 100 Scariest Movie Moments". BravoTV.com. Retrieved July 18, 2012. 

External links[edit]