Wednesday 30 October 2013

CREEPSHOW Blu-ray review

Newly released on high definition format, Stephen King and George A. Romero's Creepshow is a cult classic just waiting to be discovered.

Although not as highly regarded as Romero's 'Dead' series or as indelible a piece of writing as King's The Shining or Carrie, 1982's Creepshow is a fun collection of short horror stories that will entertain anyone with a penchant for the more ridiculous side of horror, or those in tune with King and Romero's peculiar sense of humour.

Coming from King and Romero you could expect this to be a fairly straight faced piece of satire or social commentary, but instead the whole film is played for fun, taking inspiration from the EC Comics that both men read in their youth. Without any direct adaptations of stories, King has rarely been more broad in his writing, using horror, gore, science fiction and paranoia to inform each story.

Comprised of five short films (six if you include the wraparound story starring Stephen King's son, Joe), it would be a stronger movie as a whole if they were to have done one less segment. As to which segment should have been cut is an exercise in preference (the bug ridden final installment is the weakest in my opinion, however anyone with a fear of creepy crawlies would probably get more from it), but it's important that portmanteau movies end on a high to help forgive the sins of its forebearers (the Margo Martindale starring monologue from Alexander Paine's segment of Paris, Je'Taime being the perfect example of this).

If this was a modern day exercise, each segment would be directed by a different Hollywood favourite or new kid on the block (a la ABCs of Death or VHS), so it's quite charming that this is very much Romero and King's baby, with each short still remaining wholly distinctive from each other. The same can be said for the work of Tom Savini, the Wizard of Gore showing as many of his special effects skills as possible, often with restraint but usually going all out.

There's a raft of familiar faces involved throughout; and for those who are only familiar with his work as a comic actor, there's undoubtedly a joy in seeing Leslie Nielsen playing a bad guy. Here he's quite imposing as a calculative and vindictive husband, enacting cruel watery revenge on his wife's lover, Ted Danson, in the expertly titled "Something To Tide You Over". There's also an unfairly maligned performance by Stephen King in "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill" that shows him to be a more than capable comic actor who can also attract sympathy.

Creepshow isn't a film that you would immediately think needs the jump to high definition, but that idea is proven false by how vibrant the lurid colour scheme looks, particularly during the freeze frame story cappers designed to emulate panels from the EC comics that have inspired the stories. Added to that, the disc also includes a great 90 minute documentary with insights from Romero, Savini, etc (no King, sadly) that was made to celebrate the 25th anniversary.

Undoubtedly overlong but charmingly dated, Creepshow remains damn good, pulpy fun to watch.


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