Thursday, July 20, 2017

Alien Moss, Underwater Zombies and Then There’s Fluffy, or Thoughts on Creepshow

George A. Romero’s Creepshow (1982), a collection of six Stephen King stories is an 80’s classic, in spite of the Batman ’66 aesthetics, splashes of color, split screens and animated frame segments to emphasize the comic book origins.  Juxtaposed against Tom Savini’s brilliant zombie and creature makeups, the directorial choice comes across as distracting, though perfectly suited for the smaller screen of late night cable, so what do I know.  While directed by George A. Romero, the movie is primarily remembered as a Stephen King fest, who in addition to writing the screenplay, also starred in one of the segments.
After a difficult to watch child abuse introduction (another questionable directorial decision, there’s nothing like introducing actual real-life horror into a horror movie) that establishes the comic book framework, the movie takes us into the first story with Father’s Day about another abusive father who comes back to life and bakes a special cake.  Watch out for Ed Harris with hair (well, some hair) as Hank, the disco cowboy boyfriend, and the John Amplas from Martin 1979) cameo as Zombie Nathan.
The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill showcases Stephen King’s awkward but sincere and enthusiastic portrayal of the titular character.  Essentially a one-man show, but regrettably not interesting enough as an actor to carry the plot, Jordy Verrill learns you should never taste the green goo inside any meteor that crashes in front of your hovel.
You know the only thing I love more than a good pun is a bad one, and Something to Tide You Over feature Leslie Nielsen in one of his last serious roles (he had just starred in Airplane! 1982) as a murderous husband.  He drowns his cheating wife, Gaylen Ross, Fran from Dawn of the Dead (1978) along with her lover Ted Danson, only to have an awkward late night knock on the door.
My all-time favorite, or what I like to call Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1962) But With Actual Monsters, The Crate features Hal Holbrook as sedate university professor Henry Northrup and Adrienne Barbeau as Wilma, his loud, alcoholic faculty wife and literal hot 80’s mess.  Henry finds an unopened specimen crate under the stairs that seems to have the answer to all his problems.  I never explain my titles, but Tom Savini nicknamed the monster “Fluffy”.  (There, are you happy?  The things I do for you people).
Not for the katsaridaphobic, They’re Creeping Up on You is another one-man show (unless you count all the roaches) featuring EG Marshall as a reclusive millionaire with a germ phobia living in a hermetically sealed, high tech penthouse.  Not withstanding Stephen King’s shaky performance, this is the weakest segment.  It might have played better if it had been moved somewhere in the middle, and The Crate had closed the feature.
Watch out for the Tom Savini cameo as Garbage Man #2 during the wraparound story, and 10-year-old Joe King, better known these days as author Joe Hill as Billy, the son who kills his abusive father, John Carpenter collaborator Tom Atkins, with a voodoo doll.  (Is that a spoiler?  Dude, it’s a 35-year-old movie).  It’s not George A. Romero’s best movie, but it was a commercial success, and generated a mainstream popularity that led to the Tales of the Darkside TV series (1983), and Monkey Shines (1988).

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