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Film / Creepshow

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The Most Fun You'll Ever Have...BEING SCARED!

In 1982, horror author Stephen King teamed up with zombiemeister George A. 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, pre-Cheers Ted Danson, Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, and Stephen King himself) and told five stories:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 H. P. Lovecraft's "The Colour Out of Space".
  3. 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.
  4. The Crate: An old crate is found underneath the stairs at a prestigious university. Upon being opened by 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.
  5. 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:
    • Nathan Grantham is the dad from hell.
    • The little boy's father in the framing story is a real scumbag, too. This one you can check off on the Stephen King Drinking Game.
      That's why God created fathers.
      • This actually got Stephen King himself in trouble during filming, as he took Joe out for ice cream after the day's shooting, forgetting that Savini had covered the kid in little cuts and bruises. Fortunately, he was able to explain himself to the police.
  • And I Must Scream: Averted in Jordy Verrill's case. He was rapidly transforming into a plant, but he managed to take his own life before losing his autonomy.
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  • Ax-Crazy: Nathan takes too much damn fun in sadistically offing his family members after he comes back.
  • 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.
  • Alien Kudzu: The green "meteor shit" is an extra-virulent example, able to spread over living creatures as easily as soil.
  • As You Know: An interesting variation on this one, as Bedelia's telling her dead father about his murder and the cover-up while she sits by his grave. Which also informs the audience everything we need to know about why he's going to do what he's going to do later.
  • Asshole Victim: By the bucket-full. Tragically subverted in The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill.
  • Ate His Gun: Poor Jordy..
  • Awful Wedded Life: In "The Crate," protagonist Henry is married to an alcoholic shrew of a woman named Wilma, and he loathes being married to her so much that he begins to fantasize about killing her.
  • 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: Considering who made this, it's pretty much a given.
  • Badass Boast: As the tide rolls in, Harry looks at the camera Richard set up to record his death and lets this fly:
    Harry Wentworth: Richard! 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]
  • Bathos: True to the old comics, this movie is **swimming** in it.
  • 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.
  • Black Hole Belly: Referenced in "The Crate", when Henry and Dexter marvel at how the creature can eat so much so quickly, yet still fit into said crate.
  • 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.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Richard tries this on Harry and Becky. Unfortunately for him, they aren't that kind of undead.
  • Born Unlucky: Jordy Verrill, according to himself. He's not wrong. Apparently, the luckiest thing to happen to him is that the shotgun did put him out of his misery.
  • 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. His quip at hearing the person that he bought his company right out from under him committed suicide, from the man's despairing wife?
    "Well, I guess that saves me the problem of offering him a spot on the chairman's board."
  • 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.
  • Dawson Casting: Robert Harper plays teenage college student Charlie Gereson, even though he looks like he's in his mid-40s.
  • 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.)
  • Decapitation Presentation: On a birthday cake, no less.
  • Defiant to the End: Richard as he receives his Karmic Death.
  • 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.
    • How the movie ends: Your father throws away your comic book? Just straight up murder him with a voodoo doll! (He wasn't a good dad though, his wife will probably not miss him at all).
    • Minor example with the father: Kid tries to protest his comic book being tossed in the garbage? Slap him and order him to be quiet or else.
    • Though Billie was a pretty horrible wife, Henry really went into overkill (and had been daydreaming about it even before he heard about the crate.)
  • 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
  • Empathic Environment: Justified, in that it's a comic book. Even the frames change mood.
  • The End... Or Is It?: After Jordy Verrill's suicide from the alien crabgrass that thrives on water:
    TV Weather Forecaster: "...lots of rain. Castle County is going to turn green..."
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: The father in the wrap-around story, to an abusive degree (he even thinks it's his God-given right to slap his kid!).
  • 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-"
    • "It's so peaceful here."
  • 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.
    • Combined with Rewatch Bonus, freeze framing it in between the second and third stories makes it easier to notice that the send-away for the voodoo doll has been cut out.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Something to Tide You Over.
  • Heroic BSoD: Literally. Blue screen.
  • Homage: Aside from the obvious Shout-Out to EC Comics, "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill" is one to H. P. Lovecraft's The Colour Out of Space.
  • 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 (supposedly) 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.
    • Arguably the reason Nathan had Bedelia's boyfriend shot.
  • 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.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: As the plants grow on Jordy, he ransacks his cabinet for a half-full fifth of Popov, dumps it in a pitcher of O.J., uses the bottle to stir it, and sits down to watch TV with his extra-large screwdriver.
  • 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. This is also an Imagine Spot.
  • Immune to Bullets: Harry and Becky each take point blank rounds to the head and barely even flinch.
  • Ironic Echo: When the now undead Harry and Becky return to get revenge on Richard, they repeat many of the same phrases he said to them, such as "We dug a hole for you," and "Don't panic!"
  • 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. Though a villain himself, Nathan's function in the story is ultimately to punish his equally nasty relatives.
  • Kick the Dog: Billie gives Henry a spiteful "Reason You Suck" Speech right before she gets devoured.
  • 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.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Richard, played by Leslie Nielsen of all people! He somehow manages to be the most terrifying and fully seriously-played villain in the movie.
  • Large Ham:
    • Stephen King pretty much devours the entire set and then tops it off with a plate of salad.
    • Nathan Grantham is pretty hammy, too, at least before he came back. Same with Bedelia.
  • Laughing Mad: Richard, when he realizes the creatures are Immune to Bullets, and then when he gets his Laser-Guided Karma.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Several examples, most notably:
    • Richard, who left his wife and her lover buried up to their necks in sand and by the end, has the same done to him
    • Upson Pratt, who compared all of society but himself to cockroaches, and was delighted over his causing a man to commit suicide, has cockroaches pour out of him from the inside out
    • The little boy's father, who slaps him over reading a comic. By the end of the film, his throat is feeling awfully sore. Hey, why's that ad for a Voodoo Doll cut out?
  • Libation for the Dead: Bedelia does this inadvertently when she knocks over the whisky bottle at her father's grave. Immediately after that, Nathan comes back for revenge.
  • Mood Whiplash: The film swings from horror to comedy and back in an eyeblink.
  • Mythology Gag: At the end of "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill," we see a signpost reading "CASTLE ROCK 5."
    • Horlicks University, where the action of "The Crate" takes place, is the same college where Arnie's parents teach in Christine.
  • Not of This Earth: Jordy's meteor.
  • Named by the Adaptation: In the original short story of "The Crate," Dexter never catches the name of the doomed janitor (something he regrets). The movie calls him Mike with the comic adaptation awarding him the surname Latimer.
  • Nice Guy: Hank, the only one in the Grantham house to be an in-law. Unlike his wife and her brother, 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 okay. 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 the biggest wave yet is coming right at him, and he realizes he is going to be submerged completely.
    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: Zombie Harry and Becky pull off a textbook example of this.
  • 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 Harry and Becky in the head, but it was a No-Sell.
  • Out with a Bang: Lampshaded by Upton Pratt to Mrs. Castonmeyer 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'nt do nothing to hurt Joe.]
  • Peek-a-Boo Corpse: Sylvia goes into the dark kitchen to find the cook, Mrs. Danvers. She finds her, all right.
    • Also, Hank... meet Bedelia Grantham...!
  • 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. And the zombified Harry and Becky are able to manipulate devices in Richard's house without touching them.
  • Revenant Zombie: Nathan Grantham. Harry and Becky are very ''soggy' versions.
  • Rise from Your Grave: Again, Nathan Grantham. Oddly, it looks like he was buried without a coffin only a few feet down.
  • 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 Sylvia's head. Complete with icing and candles.
    • To say nothing of sadistically killing his entire known family and an in-law that had almost nothing to do with him.
    • Possibly played straight with Mrs. Danvers, who overheard Nathan's murder yet presumably never told the police.
  • 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.note 
  • Self-Deprecation: Despite this being a George A. Romero directed movie with Zombies in it, they don't die from a headshot.
    • Inverted with Jordy's idea of a reward for the meteor.
  • Sand Necktie: Done to both Harry and Becky by Richard. Richard gets the same treatment by the story's end.
  • Sealed Evil in a Crate: 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". And as noted above, H. P. Lovecraft's story "The Colour Out of Space".
    • The stenciled text on Fluffy's crate reads "SHIP TO HORLICKS UNIVERSITY VIA JULIA CARPENTER... ARCTIC EXPEDITION JUNE 19, 1834." At the time, John Carpenter was shooting The Thing (1982).
    • At the beginning of "They're Creeping Up on You!", you can hear the ragtime music that was used in The Evil Dead.
  • Smug Snake: Richard.
  • Society Marches On / Inflation Negation: Upton Pratt's hi-tech apartment costs a mere $3200 a month. In midtown Manhattan.
  • The Sociopath: Upson Pratt. So very much. The news of Norman Castonmeyer's death absolutely delights him.
    • Nathan Grantham. After what he does to Hank it's safe to say he has zero empathy.
    • Richard, who gets sick enjoyment out of watching people die a slow, torturous death.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: When Lenore Castomeyer is tearfully recounting her husband's final, tragic moments, Upson Pratt plays an upbeat, light music number on his jukebox.
    • This could be very cruelly subverted in Pratt's view. The death of Norman Castonmeyer is a joyful thing, and the lamentation of this old hen is just icing on the cake.
  • Spoiler Title: What do you think happens in "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill"?
  • Squick: When you consider the relationship Nathan and his daughter were hinted to have, "Where's my cake, Bedelia?" takes on all kind of uncomfortable implications.
  • 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.
  • Throw 'Em to the Wolves: Henry pulls this on his harpy of a wife Wilma, courtesy of the crate monster.
  • Tomboyish Name: "Just call me Billie, everyone does!" Wilma Northrup's spunky nickname does not make her endearing, though.
  • 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. Poor guy must not have had the "fight or flight" reflex. Truth in Television, some people really do just freeze up.
    • Poor Jordy...
  • Troperiffic
  • Unusual Euphemism: "You nunkhead!"
  • The 'Verse: Horlicks University ("The Crate") is where Arnie Cunningham's parents teach in Christine, and it's where Deke, Laverne, Randy and Rachel go to school in "The Raft". There's even a passing mention in Christine (the book, not the movie) of the janitor eaten by "Fluffy."
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: What became of Cassie and Richard Grantham? Surely one (or both) of them could have gotten away, not to mention that Nathan didn't necessarily have any kind of grudge with them (then again, neither did Hank).
    • The comic adaptation states that he "blew out the candles" on them as well.
  • Why Did It Have To Be Cockroaches?
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Dexter to Charlie. Charlie doesn't, and gets eaten.
  • 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..."


Example of: