Thursday, October 17, 2019

WELCOME TO THE CREEPSHOW! By Harriet Von Lupin

Harriet Von Lupin
The poster
Hi there, horror gang! Looks like it’s time for Halloween again! This is Harriet Von Lupin, your raving reporter for The MonsterGrrls’ Thir13en For Halloween, and this year we’re doing something a little different—Tales Of Unease, talking about books, anthologies, and other stuff that brings a literary dimension to horror. Today we’ve got a doozy of a post, about a really cool movie brought to you by two of the biggest names in horror: Stephen King and George Romero’s Creepshow!

Back in the Sixties and Seventies, a movie studio called Amicus was doing anthology movies like The House That Dripped Blood, From Beyond The Grave, and Asylum, which were composed of a bunch of little short stories all hung together on a common theme. When King and Romero got together after trying to work out a movie of King’s novel The Stand, they hit on doing something original, and worked up an anthology picture of five different Stephen King stories, which King titled Creepshow. Just like me and Bethany—great minds think alike! (Darlings, Harriet isn’t really clear on how that works. --B. Ruthven)

Anyway, both King and Romero had been influenced by those old EC Comics from the 1950’s, like Tales From The Crypt and Vault Of Horror. (By the way, Amicus did those as films too!) Those comics had spooky hosts like the Crypt Keeper and the Old Witch, who told horror stories about bad people who got their comeuppance through supernatural means. (Boy, I’m getting better at these big words!) In his screenplay for Creepshow, King created a framing device with a little kid (Joe Hill, who’s King’s son!) who was being hassled by his mean dad (Tom Atkins) for reading a horror comic called Creepshow (natch!) whose host is The Creep. For the movie, Romero and King got one of the original EC artists, Jack Kamen, to draw all the fun comic book stuff and illustrations you see in the movie! (Super-cool!)

Ol' Nate's lookin' for cake!
The stories in Creepshow begin with “Father’s Day,” about a dead guy, Nathan Grantham (Jon Lormer), whose family all gathers for a Father’s Day dinner seven years after Grantham got bumped off by his own daughter (Viveca Lindfors) for killing his daughter’s fiance. When Bedelia goes to visit the grave, Grantham’s corpse comes back to life, because he wants his Father’s Day cake! (Don’t feel bad about what happens to Bedelia’s family, gang, because they’re all real jerks!)

Poor old Jordy Verrill
In the second story, “The Lonesome Death Of Jordy Verrill,” King himself plays the title character (he’d already acted in Romero’s film Knightriders), a not-too-bright yokel-type who runs afoul of a meteor that lands in his back yard. Just like in those old ‘50s sci-fi films, green gook comes out of the meteor and starts growing, quickly turning Verrill and his farmhouse into an outer-space plant farm!

Verrill kinda doesn’t deserve what happens to him, even though you shouldn’t fool around with meteors. But the guy in the next story, “Something To Tide You Over,” kinda does. He’s this rich jerk named Richard Vickers (Leslie Nielsen) who’s got an unhappy wife named Becky (Gaylen Ross) who’s taken up with another guy, Harry Wentworth (Ted Danson), so he kills both of them by burying them in the sand on the beach, and watching them drown while the tide comes in on closed-circuit TV! But this is Creepshow, so it isn’t long before the drowned corpses of Becky and Harry come back to get their revenge!

What's that thing in "The Crate"??
But probably the best story in this movie is the next one, called “The Crate.” It’s about a university professor (Hal Holbrook) who finds a crate in a stairwell with a really hungry monster locked inside! (Hey, the crate came from the Antarctic, and it’s been under there for a long time, so you’d be hungry too if you had to wait that long!) However, the professor’s got a real jerk of a wife (Adrienne Barbeau) who stays drunk all the time and says mean things about him to other people, so he ends up being embarrassed a lot--even in front of the other professors at the university!  But after he finds the crate, it isn’t long before he’s figuring out a way to get rid of her—and feed the crate-critter a little snack as well!

The last one’s the creepiest story! It’s called “They’re Creeping Up On You,” and it’s about a mean old businessman named Upson Pratt (E.G. Marshall) who stays cooped up in his apartment all the time, and treats people like dirt, and absolutely hates bugs—so much that his apartment’s fixed up like an anti-bug fortress. But when there’s a city-wide blackout, where are all the cockroaches in the city going to hang out? Three guesses!

This film’s really cool, and it’s no wonder that it’s a Halloween favorite with a lot of people. There was a second movie, Creepshow 2, and Mad Doc talks about that one a little bit here. And there was a third film that kind of sucked, mainly because King and Romero weren’t involved at all! But if you guys are into this streaming TV thing, the Shudder channel is doing a Creepshow TV series that’s just come out! Hey, maybe we’ll get some more spooks and kooks from the Creep after all!

And so I’m done! But don’t forget to come back for the next installment of The MonsterGrrls’ Thir13en For Halloween, ‘cause we’re just getting started and there’s a lot more cool stuff coming! ‘Bye now!

Love,
Harriet Von Lupin

MAD DOCTOR’S NOTE: Creepshow (and its dorky but fun little brother Creepshow 2) are both available for purchase at Amazon, or for rental on Amazon Prime Video, while the new Creepshow series can be seen on Shudder.

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