Friday, October 9, 2009

The RETURN OF 31 DAYS OF HORROR: #9 Creepshow

Well from Trick R’ Treat to the last decent anthology movie ever made. Creepshow is old school horror fun. While Trick R’ Treat was a decidedly modern take on the anthology horror film, and it’s antecedent the horror comic, only two of the sories where done in the classic “moral that ends up biting you in the ass” style. Creepshow is a hundred percent real thing.

Directed by the great George Romero, and written the great Stephen King,
(it also regrettably STARS King but we’ll get to that later). Creepshow tells five stories and one brief wraparound (which puts a SECOND great horror writer in the cast the brilliant Joe Hill. If you like horror and haven’t read Heart Shaped Box, 20th Century Ghosts, and Locke And Key your life is incomplete.)

The first and arguably the best part of Creepshow follows a very fucked up family’s annual Father’s Day reunion this time with an unexpected guest. It’s one of King’s patented upper class twit of the year competition where a bunch of boorish moneyed assholes get their just deserts. It’s got a great cast, including a rare appearance of Ed Harris with hair. Though there are some campy parts, such as Ed Harris’s super awesome disco dancing. He also possesses the worlds calmest, slowest reaction to having a giant tombstone pushed on him, waiting patiently at the bottom of an open grave for what seems like five minutes. But the great gore effects and dark sense of humor make it a classic.

The next is the controversial (loathed) The Lonesome Death of Jody Verrel. Which stars King as a Hillbilly who is turned into a giant living plant by a Meteor. It sounds silly, well because it is silly, but I still kind of like it. King’s acting is to put it kindly amateurish. To put it less kindly he seems to believe he’s starring the most gruesome Heehaw episode ever made. Scenes like the one where Verrell imagines selling the Meteor to the “Department of Meteors” at the local college is basically honky face. But the fact is for anyone whose read some of the horror comics that Creepshow is so fetishisticly paying tribute to, you know that this tone is actually pretty damn accurate. It’s awkward as hell, but it’s shockingly bleak ending turns the whole joke rancid. In it’s own way Verrell is kind of a extraordinary.

The third segment follows Ted Danson and Leslie Nielson in a fight to the death, it’s got some fun moments but has always been kind of the most vanilla episode to me. But then again it does feature Ted Danson and Leslie Nielson fighting to the death, so there is some intrinsic entertainment value there.

Things ramp up again with the next installment which stars The great (notice how often I’ve used that phrase in this review, there’s a reason) Adrienne Barbeau as the worst person in the entire world and Hal Holbrook as her henpecked husband. Things brighten up when Holbrook’s friend finds a monster in the college basement.

Things end on a surreal note with the story of a Howard Hughes’ type whose “germ proof” penthouse is infested with roaches, who are for some reason sick of this guy being a prick to everyone. Though this one is something of a fan favorite, I always found it a bit of a let down after the great preceding segement. A bizarre cameo from Billy Dee Williams livens things up a bit. But spending twenty minutes in an assholes’ apartment doesn’t really any more entertaining then spending twenty minutes in an actual assholes apartment. Even if he does get eaten by roaches at the end.

Creepshow’s a great showcase for Romero’s talents. Playing with the biggest cast and budget he ever had (until Land Of The Dead) he is clearly having a ball. A lot of this movie’s ahead of its time, for all the praise Ang Lee got for editing The Hulk like a comic book Romero beat him to it by twenty years and did a better job of it to boot.

While it modern horror fans might initially be turned off by Creepshow’s campy style, if they give It a chance this movie will grow on them. Delightfully retro, but bracing original, Creepshow is still a guaranteed good time.