Stars: Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, Fritz Weaver, Leslie Nielsen, Ted Danson, Gaylen Ross, Stephen King, Carrie Nye, E.G. Marshall, Tom Atkins and Viveca Lindfors
Writer: Stephen King
Dir: George Romero
I wanted to take on George A. Romero’s second zombie trilogy, starting with “Land of the Dead,” but the death of Leslie Nielsen made my brain turn into another direction — toward comedy and a fun zombie debate.
Without argument, the collaboration of Romero and Stephen King is a moment where horror fans should take pause and celebrate. “Creepshow” is a great homage to both horror and comedy, and marks King’s funniest moments on screen (ignore his attempt at film directing; his appearance here is hilarious).
Anyone my age has seen or heard about “Creepshow” at some point. The film is a set of five stories with a horrific and slightly tongue-in-cheek-theme, all written by King, with a true EC Comics (think “Tales From the Crypt”) vibe.
The two stories I wish to focus on are “Father’s Day” and “Something to Tide You Over.”
The film kicks off with Tom Atkins screaming at his kid over reading a “crappy” comic book (“Creepshow,” drawn very much like the great EC Comics that drew a Congressional investigation), the film starts with Ed Harris attending an aristocratic affair, a bunch of uptight, rich assholes sharing their tale of how Aunt Bedelia killed her father as revenge for daddy killing her beau. Daddy simply wants his cake and returns from the grave looking for it. And, well, some people die in order for undead daddy to get it.
After a hilarious outing by King, you have Leslie Nielsen, Ted Danson, and Gaylen Ross, the heroine of “Dawn of the Dead,” stuck in a love triangle, with Nielsen playing a jealous rich husband, Danson the hunky boyfriend, and the ocean as the equalizer: by gunpoint, Nielsen forces Danson and Ross into the sand to await high-tide and ultimately their death. But, in this story, death is not an end, and jealous revenge is met with revenge from a watery grave.
Romero Rules Followed: Romero tossed out almost all rules for this foray into fun. He obviously was going more for camp than for zombie fare, and he allowed King to bend the rules.
Gore factor: The most gore takes place during a later story, “The Crate,” but the film has been famously censored and, if you know where to look, a nice workprint is available, complete with some extra Tom Savini make-up effects.
Zombies or Wannabees? In both stories mentioned, they are wannabees. However, the Father’s Day “cake” ratchets it up to closer to zombie-lore.
Classic, fine, or waste of time: While not a zombie great, it is a classic. Just not for this blog.
Additional comments: I’ve so loved this film for years. And I have yet to meet anyone who has seen it and not instantly mention King’s hilarious role as Jordy Verrell. Romero probably found his most well-directed film post-NOTLD with “Dawn,” but this is the one film casual horror fans can grasp without the zombies we love. I really, really wish these two titans would collaborate on a real zombie film. I have said it before here; the results could only be … interesting.