Wednesday, December 22

Creepshow (1982) - 1983 Warner Home Video VHS & 1982 Plume Graphic Novel

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One of the reasons I deeply respect the late Fangoria/Gorezone writer Chas. Balun were his frank, to-the-point opinions. He was a divisive character amongst his critics. They often pointed to his tendency of changing his viewpoints over time (yet don't we all?), showing extra favor toward the work of friends in the business (Jim Van Bebber can do no wrong), and being somewhat blinded by ample flares of gore. Reading through Balun's work, these charges are clearly true in some instances, but generally he would tell it like it is irrespective of the popular perspective. As Stephen R. Bissette aptly put it in Balun's great compilation, Gore Score 2001: The Splatter Years, "an unapologetic Gorehound [that] dared to stand and be counted."

In that very same guide rests his thoughts on George A. Romero's homage horror anthology, Creepshow (1982). True to form, Balun sees this amalgam as I, "a mildly uneven mix of horror rehash, predictable stories, and a strange schizophrenic bonding of comic books, animation, [and] gaudy pop lighting..." My opinion may not go quite that far, but I've secretly never cared for this widely accepted classic. Romero is obviously crafting his love letter to the glorious days of pre-code comics that reveled in salacious depictions of dastardly femme fatales and grisly fears from beyond the tomb. There's no fault to that since they're still awesome fertile ground for the horror movie to explore. Our beloved George's workman-like direction just can't take advantage of his preferred medium to lift the EC Comics-comic style beyond what's already experienced on the page. Not to mention the gaggle of unlikeable characters. That's another touch to what Creepshow's paying ode, but it's just tough to reap enjoyment from watching a bunch of bitter assholes in what should be an orgy of ol' horrortastic fun.

And I hate saying that because it sounds like I'm breaking some sacred commandment. Like the ghost of Vincent Price will suddenly fling the door open and in a blaze of blinding light sling a phantom axe into my face for such an indiscretion. I may have never warmed to it, but Creepshow deserves respect. It's the kind of all-star gathering--like Romero's crew and production with a John Carpenter cast--that we don't see anyone of a such big Hollywood scale. It's sad to think that it probably couldn't happen today anyway.

I mean, what the hell would that look like? A found footage, torture porn psycho drama starring Tobin Bell and some random young piece o' ass directed by Eli Roth? On the other hand, Creepshow has a cavalcade of welcomingly familiar faces in front of the camera and instantly recognizable credits that can be likened to a delayed gift to horror fans that stands as a landmark of a lost era. Nowadays, godawful spoofs like Stan Helsing are marketed to us like we're supposed to be grateful anyone cares enough to even do that much. Still, while Creepshow isn't a bad film by any stretch, it's personally one that isn't visited too often and I always come away underwhelmed when I do. Might even have a softer spot for Gornick's often beat-on sequel...

Although that doesn't mean I don't like Warner's original clamshell video release from 1983. There's something tactile and substantial about holding these big plastic cases in your hands. The layout of the clamshell VHS cover below was the same template Warner used until 1985 when they switched to the usual cardboard slipcover. Despite this edition of Creepshow not being very rare at all, it's my favorite clamshell from the studio. The large paperback graphic novel, published by Plume/New American Library in July 1982, is much rarer. Written by King with art from Berni Wrightson (his first collaboration with the author), it's a full color comic telling of the movie drawn in EC-style. And yes, that's King looking like Madman Marz without the fucked nose on the back.

1 comment:

Stewie said...

I really liked Creepshow (although I do have an admitted soft spot for anthologies).

Yet, even with that, I know that it's flawed, for reasons you state (or understate): Romero.

I love Romero. I love what he's done for the genre, I love how nice he is the few times I've met him. But for this comic-inspired story, I think a flashier director may have taken it further.

Your opinion is extremely fair.

...do you dare tread upon the staircase?
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