31 Days of Terror - 'Creepshow' (1982)
"It's Father's Day Bedelia!" George A. Romero and Stephen King's Creepshow is one of the best horror anthology films to grace the silver screen. The duo offer up a smorgasbord of delightfully deranged tales of horror, all of which provide something different and entertaining.
The way I see it; Creepshow consists of three great, unforgettable stories and two that simply get the job done. I absolutely adore "Something to Tide You Over", "Father's Day" and "The Crate". "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill" is simply a vehicle for Stephen King's comedic chops while "They're Creeping Up on You" is just plain gross. All of these stories are featured in a disturbed child's comic book that his father (Tom Atkins) tosses in the garbage. Speaking of which, I love the transitions from the comic to the actual stories; there's some great uses of color and animation which were brought lovingly to life by Romero's long-time friend, Tom Savini.
The first of the five stories is "Father's Day"; it's a short one but it sets the tone perfectly for what's to come. Right off the bat I loved the musical score by John Harrison which employs heavy amounts of synth, keyboards and haunting choral segments. The sound-design is also over-the-top in the best possible way; the exaggerated "squish" noise when the tombstone falls on Ed Harris's head is gleefully tongue-in-cheek. We're also introduced to the great costume-work and visual style. Just seeing the decomposing corpse of Nathan Grantham holding a platter with Mrs. Danvers head placed upon it is pretty much iconic at this point.
"The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill" features Stephen King in the lead role, and he's actually surprisingly funny. I didn't care for the story in this one as much, but I love the trippy dream sequences. This is followed by "Something to Tide You Over" which is another one of the best stories featured here. The recently deceased couple that walks out of the ocean to exact vengeance upon Richard Vickers (Leslie Nielson) character still creep my out. I would attribute this to excellent costume design and the effective build-up of suspense. "Hold your breath!"
Then we have "The Crate", which might just be the best one of the bunch. The story follows Dexter, a professor (Fritz Weaver) who finds a crate under a staircase, which he shockingly finds out houses a feral monster when it kills and consumes the janitor before his eyes. Dexter employs the help of his long-time friend, Henry (Hal Holbrook) who willingly accepts because he has an ulterior motive to get the beast to kill his nagging wife (Adrienne Barbeau). The creature effects here are great and it gets truly scary at various points. You also get a good helping of creature kills and gore if you're into that kind of thing.
The film wraps up with "They're Creeping Up on You", which stars E.G. Marshall as Upson Pratt; a selfish and cruel businessman who lives in a highly secure electric-locked apartment. As a thunderstorm hits, thousands of cockroaches begin to seep into the apartment and he is unable to escape. I felt like this would have been better had it been placed before "The Crate" which is such a tough act to follow. That being said, it still provides the gross-out thrills.
Creepshow demonstrates everything that can work so well about the anthology format. It's a format that still hasn't gone out of style as evidenced by recent releases such as Trick r' Treat and in some ways American Horror Story. Creepshow is one of the few films that I watch at least once every year; it's the perfect Halloween film that has a little something for everybody.