Saturday, October 4, 2008

October 4th: Creepshow (1982)

Somehow, I don't know how, it's taken me 22 years and change to actually sit myself down and watch Creepshow. You'd think with a pedigree like Stephen King (screenwriter) and George A. Romero (director), I'd have been eager to watch this movie as soon as possible. The first time I tried watching it (maybe five years ago?), I couldn't finish the first story, "Father's Day". It just seemed to drag on and on and it just didn't seem all that scary.

I guess five years of cultivating a working knowledge of film, horror in particular, have conditioned my brain to think that Creepshow is actually pretty cool. Because it is. The film is a collection of five short films, all written by Stephen King, that have nothing more to do with one another than the fact that they're all kinda spooky, and all just a tad too long.

The first story, "Father's Day", is probably not the best story to start out an anthology film, as it's not all that interesting, not much scarier, and seems to be based entirely on the joke of a dead father rising from the grave all for a piece of father's day cake. It's...odd. The second story and third stories are, by far, the best. "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill" is a strange story about a farmer (Stephen King, really hamming it up) whose skin starts growing foliage after an encounter with a meteorite. It's initial silliness gives way to a somber tale of isolation. It's kind of a downer.

"Then there's "Something to Tide You Over", a story about a man (Leslie Nielsen) exacting revenge on his wife and her lover (Ted Danson) by burying them to their necks on his private beach at low tide. It takes a needless turn once Nielsens' character does get his revenge, a classic case of less-is-more. I'm mostly fascinated in the notion of Leslie Nielsen playing a villain. He should have taken more roles like this.

"The Crate", the fourth story, drags on way too long, and it's difficult to tell where the pay off is supposed to be. But finally, "They're Creeping Up on You!", the fifth and final story ends things more in the spirit of the second and third stories. E.G. Marshall plays a germophobe in a hermetically sealed apartment. As he barks orders to his employees over his phone, more and more cockroaches 'leak' their way into his apartment. When people think of Creepshow, most of them are thinking of this segment.

In the end, Creepshow is a neat curiosity, if not honestly scary. Romero and King clearly had fun with this one, but it just feels like kind of a downer. There's not enough payoff in any of the stories to really warrant two sequels. Check it out if only to see Stephen King and Leslie Nielsen playing against type.

3 stars (***) out of five.

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