One of my favorite aspects of horror is its versatility. Horror movies can be bleak and depressing, but they can also be goofy and fun. George A. Romero could pull off both of these extremes brilliantly (sometimes in the same movie). Since yesterday’s post was pretty heavy, I’d like to offer you something a little lighter tonight. I often promise you dear fiends that we will have spooky fun times here, and tonight I intend to deliver on that promise. Tonight we talk about Creepshow.
Creepshow is a horror anthology film written by Stephen King and directed by Romero. And if that isn’t enough horror goodness for you, it’s inspired by the classic ’50s EC Comics horror stories. I haven’t delved into horror comics on the blog yet, but I am a huge comic book fan, and I especially love EC Comics. Vault of Horror, Tales from the Crypt, Haunt of Fear…they were gory and creepy and funny and pretty much the best thing ever.
Just like the comics, the movie is bookended by a prologue and an epilogue. In between are 5 stories, starting with:
The Grantham family gets together for an annual Father’s Day dinner, despite the fact that patriarch Nathan is deceased. Bedelia — who you know right away is crazy, because characters named Bedelia always are — goes to Nathan’s grave site to pay her respects. And by “pay her respects” I mean “gloat about murdering him and then spill whiskey on his grave.” It turns out to be some damn good whiskey, because it brings Nathan back to life. Zombie Nathan kills Bedelia and then heads to the house to demand a Father’s Day cake, which ends about as well as you would expect.
I think “Father’s Day” is my favorite story, mainly for the gore, but also because I like eccentric rich people who kill their greedy family members. That is a weirdly specific thing to like, but I stand by it. Next up is:
“THE LONESOME DEATH OF JORDY VERRILL”
Stephen King plays the title role, who makes Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel look like a Rhodes Scholar. He comes across a meteorite that he intends to sell to the Department of Meteors at the local college. (This department does not actually exist — please see above re: Cletus.) Jordy accidentally gets covered with meteorite goo, and something akin to Astroturf begins growing all over his body. The growth is unstoppable, so Jordy kills himself. It’s too late, though; we learn that Jordy has doomed the Earth to meet the same leafy fate.
Our next terrifying tale is:
“SOMETHING TO TIDE YOU OVER”
Richard Vickers (Leslie Nielsen) lures his unfaithful wife and her lover to the beach and then buries them up to their necks in sand as the tide starts to come in. He leaves TVs with them so he can watch the scene from TVs set up in his house, and we learn that this is not the first time he’s executed this ridiculously elaborate plot. (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: how many TVs does this guy go through?) The tables turn, as they so often do in EC stories, and his two victims come back from the dead covered in seaweed and seeking revenge. They bury Leslie Nielsen in the sand and leave him to drown.
This next story is the funniest one, in my opinion. It is:
Henry, played by the always delightful Hal Holbrook, is a college professor with a godawful wife named Wilma. A friend of Henry’s opens a crate at the college and discovers a monster inside; when the friend goes to Henry for help, Henry decides to use the monster to his advantage and get rid of Wilma for good. Luckily, Wilma does in fact get eaten; unluckily, the monster escapes and presumably runs off to devour frat bros.
…Actually, both of those sound pretty good. Yay, a happy ending! But wait, we still have one more story:
“THEY’RE CREEPING UP ON YOU”
Upson Pratt, who has a name designed by a team of NASA scientists to be the douchiest in the multiverse, is a rich germaphobe living in a hermetically sealed apartment. Life is good — he lives alone in a sterile white room and gets to be a dick to people — until his apartment is completely overrun by roaches. He dies, and his corpse becomes a roach motel.
This story creeps me the hell out, because I hate bugs, especially frakking roaches. I had the creepy-crawlies for hours after I finished this movie, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to horror.
And that, kiddies, is Creepshow: a beloved Romero film and a love letter to some of the best horror comics ever published. Let me know your favorite story in the comments! And don’t worry if these posts are a little light on the zombie action — the rest of Romero week is wall-to-wall zombies.