The Most Fun You'll Ever Have...BEING SCARED!
In 1982, horror
author Stephen King
teamed up with zombiemeister George Romero and special effects wizard Tom Savini
to make Creepshow
, an anthology film
that paid homage to 1950s horror comic books like Tales from the Crypt
from EC Comics
. It featured an all-star cast (including Leslie Nielsen
, Ed Harris
, Ted Danson, Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, Adrienne Barbeau's cleavage, and Stephen King
himself) and told five stories:
- Father's Day: Bedelia Grantham's domineering father Nathan had her boyfriend killed. That Father's Day, she proceeded to bash Dad's head in with an ashtray as he yammered loudly for his cake. But you can't keep a hungry man down. Nathan wants his cake, and a little thing like dying isn't going to keep him from getting it.
- The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill: Backwoods hick Jordy Verrill (King) thinks his financial woes are solved when a meteor crashes into his front yard, and he intends to sell it to a local college professor. But Jordy's hopes for both fortune and survival are dashed when the meteor turns out to contain a parasitic alien plant. Partially inspired by HP Lovecraft's The Colour Out of Space.
- Something to Tide You Over: Control freak Richard Vickers (Nielsen), upon learning that his wife, Becky, is sleeping around with well-to-do beach bum Harry Wentworth (Danson), enacts a sadistic revenge upon them: by burying them in the sand below the high tide line at his stretch of private beach. Richard is certain they'll be gone once they drown. Unfortunately, he never saw Father's Day. Otherwise he'd know that death isn't always the end.
- The Crate: An old crate is found underneath the stairs at a prestigious university. Upon being opened byu Professor Dexter Stanley and janitor Mike Latimer, it turns out to contain an ancient and ferocious beast. After the thing kills and eats Mike and a grad student, Dexter goes to his colleague Henry Northrup (Holbrook) for help. Henry is married to a cruel shrew of a woman named Wilma (Barbeau and her cleavage), and a flesh-eating monster is a tempting alternative to divorce.
- They're Creeping Up on You!: Upson Pratt, a loathsome, racist, eccentric, germophobic billionaire, hates pretty much everybody. He treats his hard-working employees like dirt while he rules his multinational business empire from a sterile, germ-proof apartment. After driving a business rival to suicide, Pratt finds out the hard way that sometimes, if grieving widows wish hard enough, they can make lots of killer roaches invade his domicile.
In addition, it had a Framing Device of a young boy named Billy who reads the eponymous Creepshow comic while enduring abuse from his father.
It had a less well-received (but still mostly good) sequel, Creepshow 2
, which was followed by the unofficial and nowhere near as popular Creepshow 3
Tropes used in this film:
- Absolute Cleavage: It's Adrienne frickin' Barbeau!
- Abusive Parents:
- Adaptation Distillation: Though it's not an official adaptation (and there were such films already), many feel Romero and King perfectly captured the spirit of the old EC comics, right down to the movie being deliberately over the top and full of Narm.
- Alcoholic Parent: Dad in the framing story, as per the Stephen King Drinking Game.
- Asshole Victim: By the bucket-full.
- Ate His Gun: Poor Jordy..
- Author Appeal: Stephen King adores EC Comics, and this project (and the related comic book tie-in) is his homage.
- Jordy is one of a long line of people with the last name Verrill who dies in some horrible way in some way, shape or form in Stephen King's work.
- Back from the Dead
- Badass Boast: As the tide rolls in, Harry looks at the camera Richard set up to record his death and lets this fly:
I'm gonna get you! You hear me, Richard? YOU HEAR ME, RICHARD?
I'm going to get you f...
[a wave washes over his head, cutting him off abruptly]
- Beach Bury: Done to both Harry and Becky by Richard with the intent of letting the tide drown them both. Richard gets the same treatment by the story's end.
- Big Brother Is Watching: Richard is obsessed with cameras.
- Big Eater: Staying locked up in a crate for so long must have played hell on the Eldritch Horror's appetite, because he tucks away two full-grown men and still has enough room to fit Henry's wife for dessert.
- Blasphemous Boast: Aunt Bedelia is "older than God."
- Bloody Hilarious
- Body Horror: A fairly moderate example with Jordy. An extremely severe example with Mr. Pratt.
- Break the Haughty: What happens to Mr. Pratt.
- Came from the Sky: The meteor that lands in Jordy's front yard.
- Chekhov's Gun: During one of the quick framing sequences that shows additional pages in the comic, there's a brief shot of a mail-in ad for a voodoo doll with that order cut out, but it's quickly passed by as the film moves on to the next segment. This comes into play at the very end when it's revealed that Billy already sent away for it, and uses it to kill his father in revenge for throwing the comic out at the beginning of the film.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Upson Pratt.
- Creator Cameo: Aside from King as Jordy, Tom Savini is one of the garbagemen at the closing segment of the frame story.
- Creepy Cockroach: The "They're Creeping Up On You" segment.
- Cultural Stereotypes: Hick Jordy is totally incompetent and all of the rich folks (particularly Upson Pratt) are total dicks.
- Death by Racism: Mr. Pratt, metaphorically. He compares minorities and others to cockroaches. Guess how he dies? (His racist comments to his apartment's ironically-named superintendent, Mr. White, don't endear him to us any, either.)
- Defiant to the End: Richard as he receives his Karmic Death.
I CAN HOLD MY BREATH! I CAN HOLD MY BREATH A LOOOONG TIME!
- Disproportionate Retribution: How does Richard deal with the news that his wife was cheating on him? He buries her and her lover neck-deep in sand and leaves them to slowly drown when the tide comes in, giving them both a monitor so they can watch one another die.
- Even considering the fact that EC Comics morality has a much lower threshold for bloody revenge, it's still hard to see what Hank Blaine did to deserve his death.
- Or Jordy Verrill, for that matter.
- Well, that's another common theme of EC Comics stories: bad things can happen to undeserving people simply by their being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
- Driven to Suicide:
- Poor Jordy.
- Upson Pratt's hostile takeover of a company drives the CEO to suicide - and that absolutely delights Upson Pratt.
- '80s Hair
- Eldritch Abomination: Quite possibly the thing in the crate. It's Really 700 Years Old and apparently doesn't need food.
- Empathic Environment: Justified, in that it's a comic book. Even the frames change mood.
- Famous Last Words / Look Behind You:
Wilma: Same old Henry; afraid of your own shadow! You know what, Henry, you’re a regular barnyard exhibit. Sheep’s eyes, chicken guts, piggy friends……, and shit for brains! No good at departmental politics, no good at makin’ money, no good at makin’ an impression on anybody,….and no good at all in BED! When was the last time ya got it up, Henry? Huh? When was the last time you were a man in our bed? Now get outta my way, Henry, or I swear to God you’ll be wearin’ your balls for earrings!
- "Just tell it to call you Billie!"
- "Please, God, let my luck be in! Just this once. Please, God, just this-"
- Fan Disservice: Ed Harris, disco dancing. Aaaaaaaaaaah!
- Faux Affably Evil: Richard puts on a friendly facade as he's extracting his revenge. He talks to Harry almost like he's meeting an old friend he hasn't seen in a while, while arranging to bury him alive and drown him and gloating about how he already murdered his wife.
- Fluffy the Terrible: The monster in The Crate was nicknamed "Fluffy" by Tom Savini.
- Framing Story
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: Oh so much. It's fun to pause the video to read the letters page or some of The Creep's Deadpan Snarking. For example, at the end of The Crate, in the final comic book frame, the Creep snarks, "Oh, Henry. You didn't think you could drown your fears that easily?"
- That ghoul puts the Crypt Keeper to shame, particularly in Bernie Wrightson's tie-in comic adaptation.
- Genre Savvy: The first place Richard shoots when he's confronted by waterlogged corpses? The head, and subsequently the eye, too bad...
- Guns Are Worthless: Something to Tide You Over.
- Heroic BSOD: Literally. Blue screen.
- Hong Kong Dub: There's a very obvious ADR insert where Billie refers to an advice columnist as "that etiquette crotch", while the disgusted faces of the other party guests show why the line was probably edited later.
- Hunting Accident: Bedelia Grantham's beau was a victim of this.
- I Ate WHAT?: Guess what was in the cereal, Mr. Pratt?
- Idiot Plot: An in-universe example; Jordy's segment only works because Jordy is ignorant, stupid, and desperate, and he even acknowledges near the end that jumping in the bathtub, even though it will relieve his horrible itch, will still mean his death.
- If I Can't Have You: Richard admits he's no longer in love with his wife, but she belongs to him, and he keeps what he owns.
- I Know You're Watching Me: Harry's Famous Last Words.
Harry: RICHARD! I'm going to get you. I'm going to get you.
- Imagine Spot / Indulgent Fantasy Segue: Henry and Jordy both have more than one of these in their respective segments, with Henry imagining offing his wife, and Jordy playing through various possible outcomes regarding the meteor.
- Immune to Bullets
- Jerkass: Upson Pratt.
- To be fair, nearly everyone in the film is a complete asshole, save a few exceptions - most notably Jordy, Hank and Dexter.
- Karma Houdini: Arguably Dexter and Henry.
- Nathan definitely. Normally, death would definitely be a be-all-to-end-all karmic ending to a guy like him. But because this is a horror film with supernatural elements, not so in his case.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: In the ending, the boy tortures his abusive father with a voodoo doll that he mail ordered from an ad in the comic that was thrown out.
- Killer Eldritch Monkey: The thing in the crate looks like a Lovecraftian baboon. In King's original short story, it was more like a badger or wolverine, as befits its icy origins.
- Large Ham / Chewing the Scenery: Stephen King had a four course ham dinner in this film.
- Laughing Mad: Richard, when he realizes the creatures are Immune to Bullets, and then when he gets his Laser-Guided Karma.
- Mood Whiplash: The film swings from horror to comedy and back in an eyeblink.
- Not of This Earth: Jordy's meteor.
- Nice Guy: Hank, the only one in the Grantham house hold to be an in law. Unlike his wife and her sister, who are absolute snobs, he doesn't do or say anything malicious or morbid. He was naturally curious about the story involving Nathan and the only reason why he went out to the graveyard was to see if Bedelia was ok. Sylvia could qualify too as she isn't as rude or malicious as the other two in her clan.
- Neck Snap: Nathan Grantham unleashes the ultimate neck-snapping kill with no effort whatsoever.
- Oh, Crap: Harry when seeing the incoming tide.
Harry: ... Oh my God...
- Older Than They Look: Despite being "older than God," Great Aunt Bedelia actually looks a decade younger than Aunt Sylvia.
- Offscreen Teleportation
- Our Zombies Are Different: Despite this being directed by George Romero, the zombies in this movie don't follow the classic Romero movies. Richard even tried to shoot Wentworth and Becky in the head, but it was a No Sell.
- Out with a Bang: Lampshaded by Upton Pratt to Mrs. Katzenmeyer about her husband's suicide.
- Papa Wolf: A behind the scenes moment. Tom Atkins once said, Stephen King was concerned about the scene where the father hit his son. Said son was played by King's real life son Joe Hill. However the father played by Atkins assured him that during the scene he would do nothing to hurt Joe.
- Pet the Dog: When Henry lures Billie back to the lab with a lie about Dex getting into trouble with some girl, she seems genuinely concerned that Dex might have beaten his non-existent lover.
- Plant Person:
- With a very sad demise, indeed. Although it's not much of a spoiler, because you did read the title of the second story, right?
- The two zombies in Something To Tide You Over seem to be made of seaweed, even bleeding greenish-black blood.
- Psychic Powers: Psychic zombie powers, no less; used to bring a tombstone down onto Hank's head. Hank is Ed Harris, by the way.
- Revenant Zombie: Nathan Grantham
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Subverted, somewhat. Nathan Grantham doesn't so much come back from the dead to get revenge as he does to just get his darn cake. We say "somewhat" because he settles for Aunt Sylvia's head.
- Rule of Scary: It is never given a good explanation of how the zombies of stories 1 and 3 are re-animated, or how the crate monster was able to survive for many years without needing food, or the cockroach invasion against Pratt. They just happen because they have to. And let's not even talk about zombie Nathan's Psychic Powers...
- Rule of Symbolism: Upton Pratt equates those "beneath" him (in the most racist, elitist way) with cockroaches.
- Self-Deprecation despite this being a George A. Romero directed movie with Zombies in it, they don't die from a headshot.
- Society Marches On / Inflation Negation: Upton Pratt's hi-tech apartment costs a mere $3200 a month. In midtown Manhattan.
- Inverted with Jordy's idea of a reward for the meteor.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: The crate monster.
- Shout-Out: "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill" was loosely inspired by Creedence Clearwater Revival's "It Came Out Of The Sky", a song where a farmer finds an object that fell from space (though the plot of the song is otherwise very different) - the main character in the CCR song is named Jody, which of course sounds similar to Jordy. In addition, the title of the segment is a play on Bob Dylan's "The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carrol".
- Smug Snake: Richard.
- Spoiler Title: What do you think happens in "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill"?
- Stealth Pun: When Jordy wakes up after briefly falling asleep in his armchair, the moss-like growth has spread throughout the house... and the film adaptation of How Green Was My Valley is on TV.
- They Would Cut You Up: Jordy Verrill decides not to call a doctor about the alien green growth on his hand because he imagines the "cure" will be to chop off his afflicted fingers. Without anesthetic.
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Nathan slips in a few when screaming at Bedelia for his cake. She calls him out on it when sitting at his grave.
- Too Dumb to Live:
- Hank lays underneath the tombstone for almost a full minute before Zombie!Nathan gets around to squishing his head with it, far too long to just chalk up to being paralyzed with fear. Guess snobs don't have the "fight or flight" reflex.
- Poor Jordy...
- The Virus: The green "meteor shit" is an extra-virulent example, able to spread over non-living matter as easily as living.
- Unusual Euphemism: "You nunkhead!"
- Unwanted Revival:
- It's a safe bet that no one wanted Nathan Grantham to come back from the dead.
- Richard Vickers probably wasn't thrilled with seeing his wife again, either.
- Why Did It Have To Be Cockroaches?
- You Have to Believe Me
- Younger Than They Look: Charlie Gereson was apparently set to win the Nobel Prize before he reached 20, despite looking as though he passed that age milestone about 18 years prior.
- You're Insane!: Harry to Richard. Then Harry realizes he is. Richard knows he is, and doesn't give a shit.
- You Won't Feel a Thing: "This is going to be extremely painful, Mr. Verrill..."