Romero had The Crazies, Night Of The Living Dead, Dawn Of The Dead and Martin under his belt, while Brian De Palma and Stanley Kubrick had adapted King’s Carrie and The Shining. The pair could have probably done anything, but there’s a real sense of joy to what they did choose to do – a big, bold and brash tribute to the classic creepy EC horror comics.
A more faithful adaptation of Tales Of The Crypt than Amicus’ own 1972 Tales Of The Crypt movie, Romero and King’s Creepshow even has its own ersatz Cryptkeeper – the Creep – leap from a small child (a young Joe Hill)’s discarded comic to introduce a brace of cartoonish morality plays starring the likes of Ed Harris, Leslie Nielsen, Adrienne Barbeau and Hal Holbrook.
With two based on King’s own published work, and three written specifically for the film by the master of fear it’s hard to pick out favourites or weak entries, though King’s own turn as a gurning comedy redneck in ‘The Lonesome Death Of Jordy Verrill’ is ridiculous fun, while the monster in ‘The Crate’ looks like a cheap costume shop gorilla suit compared to the vengeful characterful cadavers that FX guru Tom Savini whips up for ‘Father’s Day’ and ‘Something to Tide You Over’
Shot and framed like a comic-book even outside of the animated segments, with coloured lights and animated effects that echo similar efforts by Wes Craven with Swamp Thing and Sam Raimi with Darkman to bring a hint of the dot-shaded panel to a live action movie. To a certain extent all of the stories are predictable cliches, and the characters are broad brush archetypes at best, but this is part of the intentional high camp of the format, in keeping with the macabre melodrama of the Fifties comic strips they’re aping.
A sleeper hit on its original release with a lukewarm response from critics, there’s a case to be made that Creepshow was simply well ahead of its time. Now everyone is a genre-savvy post-modernist, stylishly and knowingly reworking things that held them enraptured as kids has formed the lucrative career bedrock of Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and Guillermo del Toro among others.
With a HD transfer that really makes the best of its demented colour palette, coupled with the thorough 90-minute making-of documentary from the 2007 DVD release, Creepshow is ready for its overdue reappraisal.