I first saw Creepshow on a family vacation in Parksville. I was 14 years old and had watched a total of one horror movie in my time on earth – The Sixth Sense. Well, I watched about half of it before frantically turning off the TV and having nightmares for a year. Horror wasn’t for me, and yet, deep down, lay a desire to face my fears and just watch a scary movie from start to finish. Cut to the little town of Parksville, on Vancouver Island. It’s a quiet place, where the biggest event is a sandcastle building contest that’s held every summer. As used to be the case with quiet towns without much to do, there was a surprising number of video rental stores (six I believe). On perhaps the third day of the vacation I went for a walk and, though drawn there by mysterious forces beyond my control, found myself in a video store called Flix ‘N’ Pix, staring at a wall of horror movies on VHS.
I gazed with morbid fascination at the horrific images on display. I remember one in particular, A Nightmare on Elm Street 5, had on the back a graphic screen capture of a person with massively swollen cheeks literally eating themselves to death! There was The Exorcist, a movie my Dad had declared the scariest thing he had ever seen. Something called The Evil Dead, with a big red “Adults Only” sticker on the case. And there was a section with horror movies for sale. One caught my eye more than the others. It’s cover was a sepia toned image of a smiling ghoul selling movie tickets at a theatre. It’s title was one word…Creepshow. On the glass of the ghoul’s ticket kiosk was a sign – “The most fun you’ll ever have being scared!” …That didn’t sound too bad. Before I could chicken out I grabbed the cassette and strolled up to the counter. For a moment I panicked – what if they wouldn’t let me buy it? I glanced at the back – RATED R. I was about to bail, forget the whole crazy idea, when the person behind the counter said “Oh, good pick!” Five bucks later I was blinking in the Parksville sunshine, Creepshow proudly clutched in my hands.
When I got back to the motel my parents announced that it was time to hike Englishman River Falls. I casually asked if I could maybe stay behind and watch the movie I’d just bought. I sheepishly held up my purchase, again expecting the worst. Again, everything went better than expected. My parents were in full vacation mode and, though they didn’t entirely approve of my choice of film, they were pretty excited at the prospect of hiking around gorgeous waterfalls without two kids whining that their feet hurt. With the folks safely out of the way, and my sister reading a Lois Lowry book at the table, I popped in the movie and turned on the TV.
14 years later Creepshow remains one of my all-time favourite horror movies, a genre I’ve been in love with since that fateful day in Parksville. Directed by the legendary George A. Romero, who tragically passed away last year, and written by none other than the king of horror fiction, Stephen King, Creepshow is a wonderful example of top tier talent coming together and bringing out the best in each other. It’s quite possibly the best anthology movie ever made.
Creepshow tells five tales of terror, each inspired by the classic EC horror comics of the 40s and 50s. Those comics revelled in lurid images, splashed in eye popping primary colours. Their narratives were simple morality tales, where some poor soul receives, in gloriously gruesome fashion, their just desserts. Creepshow succeeds in not only capturing the essence of its inspiration, but in truly feeling like a living comic book. It expertly weaves together the vibrant colours, over-the-top characters, and fast paced storytelling that the filmmakers clearly love so dearly. Luckily there is also a lot more going on here than just re-creating source material. The five stories are each scary, fun, and funny, with well-realized characters that feel real despite their archetypical presentation. No segment outstays its welcome, and there’s a real flow to the stories, so much so that I couldn’t imagine them being presented in any other order. Add in a terrific score, Tom Savini’s incomparable practical make-up effects, and unforgettable performances from Leslie Nielsen, Ed Harris, Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins, Ted Danson, and Stephen King himself, and you’ve got the rare movie that actually lives up to its tagline. Creepshow is the most fun you will ever have being scared!