Guest Review: “Creepshow”

In this guest review, Jim Brymer shares his thoughts on the 1982 horror anthology Creepshow

Note: It is virtually impossible to do a review of this movie without revealing a lot of spoilers. If you prefer to watch the movie first, come back some other time to continue.

The whole essence of this film lies in it’s brackets. The movie is bracketed by scenes in which a father (played by John Carpenter and George Romero favorite, Tom Atkins) berates his son (played by Stephen King‘s own son, Joe) for reading what he considers a trashy horror comic called Creepshow. The father throws the comic away, leaving the boy, called Billy, to mutter to himself wishing death to his father.

The movie contains five creepy stories, all supposedly in the trashed issue of Creepshow. Each story is prefaced by a cartoon sequence showing the issue of the comic book blowing in the wind, accompanied by the frequent appearance of our esteemed escort through this nightmare, a character referred to in the story as The Creep. The Creep appears very briefly at the beginning as a live-action character, but thereafter is only shown in cartoon form in the segueing sequences.

The first story is titled “Father’s Day.” t the outset we see a family consisting of a snooty quartet of an apparently spoiled rich family. Present are the progeny of Nathan Grantham (played in flashbacks by Jon Lormer); his granddaughter, Sylvia (Carrie Nye), his great-grandson, Richard (Warner Shook), his great-granddaughter, Cass (Elizabeth Regan) and her husband, Hank (Ed Harris). They are awaiting the arrival of Aunt Bedelia (Viveca Lindfors), the matriarch and daughter of the dead patriarch.
Meanwhile, we are treated to the family rumor, back at the mansion, that it was dotty old Aunt Bedelia who in a fit of rage killed her father. The irascible old coot just wanted his father’s day cake. But he was being a horse’s patootie about it, so she conked him on the head with an ashtray. So the family rumor goes.

The second story is called “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill.” Stephen King himself plays country hick Jordy Verrill, who finds a meteor that crashes in his farm’s back yard. Stupidly, he touches it, burns his fingers, and gets a bucket of water to cool it off, which causes the meteor to crack open in two pieces. Thus ruining his dream of selling the meteor for a buttload of money. But in the process he gets “meteor s**t” on him. This stuff makes having a green thumb turn from a pipe dream into a nightmare. He is eventually overwhelmed by green stuff growing on him.

The third story is tale of a man cuckolded by his wife, who gets his own brand of revenge on her and her lover. Leslie Nielsen, in a rare dramatic role (in his later career it was “rare”), plays Richard, a man who is used to having things go his way and who is not about to let a young playboy like Harry (Ted Danson) take his wife away from him.

He takes Harry down to the beach where Harry is forced to bury himself up to the neck in a hole on the beach. Harry is then shown by remote where Becky (Gaylen Ross), his lover and Richard’s wife, is also buried up to the neck on the beach, and where the tide is coming in. Satisfied with getting his revenge, Richard goes back to his well fortified beach house. But Harry and Becky want to show him a special plot of land they have rerserved for him on the beach.

The fourth story in this quintet of tales, “The Crate” is by far the best, not the least because it features Adrienne Barbeau, albeit as the most despicable harridan you ever laid eyes on. Barbeau plays Wilma (just call her “Billie”), the wife of Henry Northup (Hal Holbrook), a professor at a university. She is an annoyance a a pain in the ass to everybody, and you can see the disgust Harry has, as well as the embarrassment she causes him.

Henry’s best friend (and colleague), Dex Stanley (Fritz Weaver), gets called away from a party they are all attending because the janitor at the university found a previously undiscovered crate beneath the stairwell. It is dated as an exhibition find from 1837. What is in the crate is not your usual specimen, especially considering it has been under the stairwell for almost 150 years. Don’t ask why no one had discovered it before, it will ruin the surprise…)

Anyway, there is a unique surprise in the crate, one that creates a job opening for “janitor” at the university, and also frees up a scholarship for another grad student. Stanley runs to Henry’s house in terror and explains the situation. Henry realizes that he has a way to create a new opening himself, that of a second wife…

The final story, titled “They’re Creeping Up on You,” features a cast of thousands (millions?), with a guest starring role for E.G. Marshall as Upton Pratt, a germophobic and entomophobic recluse, rich enough to have his own penthouse apartment, which he berates his employees for not being able to keep completely bug free. I highly suggest you make sure you have your can of Raid handy when you watch this sequence…Nuff said.

Jim Brymer, AKA Quiggy, runs the movie blog The Midnite Drive-In, check it out for more insights on other classic films.