Creepshow Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review
Written by ZigZag
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Directed by George A. Romero
Written by Stephen King
1982, 120 minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray released on October 23rd, 2018
Hal Holbrook as Henry Northrup
Adrienne Barbeau as “Billy”
Fritz Weaver as Dexter Stanley
Leslie Nielsen as Richard Vickers
Carrie Nye as Sylvia Grantham
E.G. Marshall as Upson Pratt
Viveca Lindfors as Aunt Bedelia
Stephen King as Jordy Verill
Ted Danson as Harry Wentworth
Ed Harris as Hank
In 1982, director George A. Romero (The Dark Half) and author Stephen King teamed up to deliver a love letter to the classic EC Comics of the 1950s. These comic books feature grisly tales of monsters and madmen doing terrible things to innocent victims before receiving their just desserts. These gruesome tomes were the source of much political outrage at the time and led to the creation of the Comics Code Authority of 1954 that imposed a set of regulations for acceptable content. Flash forward a couple decades and their stories are being adapted for cinema by the British production company Amicus Films with titles like Tales from the Crypt and The Vault of Horror. The anthology format had proven lucrative in the ‘70s and seemed ready for a revival in the ‘80s, and with King and Romero attached, it felt like a no-brainer.
Creepshow is an anthology feature consisting of five short stories that unfold from the pages of a discarded comic book. In Father’s Day, a corpse returns from the grave in search of revenge. The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill finds a hayseed discovering a meteorite and planning his future with his reward money. A jealous husband reacts strongly to his cheating wife and her lover in Something to Tide You Over. College professors make a unique discovery of an artifact that may be the solution to their problems in The Crate. In the final story, They’re Creeping up on You, an eccentric germophobe suffers a long night during a blackout in his pristine apartment.
The swiftly-paced chiller copies the look of a classic comic and features brightly colored scenes, gruesome effects and an infectious score. Cinematographer Michael Gornick (Day of the Dead) worked closely with Romero to give the picture the proper look and the results are pleasing. The framing mirrors that of comic book panels and deep primary colors are used during the shocks of the stories. The numerous special make-up effects were accomplished by the legendary Tom Savini (Friday the 13th) and include walking corpses, vengeful zombies and an outright monster that lives in a giant box. Savini has a lot of opportunities to thrill audiences here and never misses a beat. John Harrison (Effects) composed the music for the feature and married original work with library tracks giving each segment a unique presentation.
The cast is led by the always-welcome Hal Holbrook (Rituals), who stars in The Crate as henpecked Henry Northrup. He is at the mercy of his domineering wife Wilma (Adrienne Barbeau, The Fog) who enjoys making Henry’s life a living hell. Both actors are really good here, playing against type with Holbrook cowering to her obnoxious behavior as Barbeau disappears into the role of “raging bitch on wheels”. Henry discovers a way out of his misery via a devious plot that is revealed through a lengthy monologue delivered by Holbrook. The sequence is intercut with shots of Henry staging the scene for Wilma’s arrival and her timely approach that provides some of the film’s best editing.
Leslie Nielsen (Prom Night) stars in Something to Tide You Over as the jealous husband bent on revenge against his cheating spouse. Ted Danson (Body Heat) plays the lover to Gaylen Ross (Dawn of the Dead) as the wife. Nielsen appears here in one of his final “serious” roles as a malicious villain before his career took off into comedy with The Naked Gun franchise. Stephen King himself appears as the solo performer in The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verill. He carries the role like a pro and conveys great sympathy in his dim-witted character. Carrie Nye (Screaming Skull) and Viveca Lindfors (Exorcist III) star as sisters in the twisted nightmare Father’s Day; one volatile and the other icy cool when it comes to relaying the details of their father’s death. Both ladies are wonderful in their parts and prove to be strong women. E.G. Marshall (12 Angry Men) plays Upson Pratt in They’re Creeping Up on You. The man has a serious bug problem and is not handling it very well when the city suffers a blackout. Marshall shines as the cantankerous old bastard and audiences will love to hate him.
There are a few supporting players I would like to point out, starting with Fritz Weaver (Demon Seed), who plays opposite Holbrook in The Crate as a professor who discovers a monster and is terrified by what it does. In an early career appearance, Ed Harris (Knightriders) plays an unfortunate bystander in Father’s Day and comes to a messy end, but not before delivering some memorable dance moves. The episodes are bookended by a story of a boy and his father disagreeing on the merits of comic books. The father is played by genre favorite Tom Atkins (Halloween III) and the kid is Stephen King’s son Joe Hill, who has grown into an accomplished author himself. Tom Savini has a brief cameo as one of the garbage men at the end of the picture.
Creepshow is a highly entertaining movie that was a hit with critics and audiences alike. The film went on to spawn two sequels and is currently being developed into a television series by Greg Nicotero (The Walking Dead). Anthologies can be tough to pull off, especially when juggling five stories, but Romero and King are masters at their craft and do it with ease.
Video and Audio:
Creepshow is presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio and featuring a spiffy new 4K High-Definition transfer that blows away the picture quality on the previous Warner Bros. Blu-ray. The colors are much brighter and the detail sharper and black levels are bottomless. There is a lot of small-object detail found in hair and fabrics.
A DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio from the previous release is here, but fans will be excited to hear the all-new DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround track. Music cues and sound effects benefit most from the expanded mix while dialogue levels remain clear and free from distortion.
Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.
There is an insane amount of new bonus content on this Collector’s Edition release. Starting before we even get to the disc itself, we are treated to an essay written by horror journalist Michael Gingold. The work appears in a 36-page book filled with colorful photographs of production stills, poster art, behind-the-scenes images and includes many interviews as well as personal reflections on the film.
There are four (!) audio commentaries on this disc and each one is well worth a listen. The first is a vintage track by Romero and Savini moderated by Michael Felsher. This is a really enjoyable, laid back conversational track that offers a nonstop array of information.
The second track features 1st AD John Harrison and construction coordinator Ed Fountain, again moderated by Felsher. This all-new discussion is also nicely paced and full of terrific anecdotes.
The third commentary is hosted by film critic Lee Carr and features DP Michael Gornick. The man has a lot to say about this production and is particularly pleased with this new transfer.
The fourth option is a series of five audio interviews conducted by Felsher in 2013, including Gornick, actor John Amplas, prop master Bruce Alan Miller, make-up effects artist Darryl Ferucci and comic artist Bernie Wrightson. These are a great listen that make for a welcome addition to this release.
The all-new featurette Terror and the Three Rivers (30 minutes) is a round-table discussion hosted by Felsher and featuring Tom Savini, and actors Tom Atkins, Marty Schiff and John Amplas reminiscing about the production and working with Romero.
The Comic Book Look (13 minutes) spotlights costume designer Barbara Anderson and allows her to reflect on her work achieving exactly the right look for each of the characters.
Animator Rick Catizone is interviewed for the segment Ripped from the Pages (16 minutes) and includes pencil drawings and animation cels. He talks about stop-motion work and his contributions in the design of Fluffy and Nate’s corpse.
In The Colors of Creepshow (10 minutes), Michael Gornick discusses the 4K restoration of the original film elements. The focus of the discussion is the new color balancing and timing and the advances in matching one shot to the next allowing for a closer realization of the scenes.
Sound recordist Chris Jenkins reflects on his work with Romero in Into the Mix (13 minutes). He talks about sound effects and music cues and what his process was like working on each segment.
Rob Jones and Josh Curry of the Mondo Gallery share their collection of original works in Mondo Macabre (10 minutes). They talk about the influence of the theatrical poster art and the lasting impression of the film.
The 13-minute featurette Collecting Creepshow features Dave Burian and his collection of movie props, including the E.G. Marshall bust, the crate and the prop comic book as well as a look at some materials from other Romero films.
Tom Savini’s behind-the-scenes footage (26 minutes) provides a look at the creation and development of various special effects gags on set and in the shop. Make-up tests and camera rehearsals are also included.
Horror’s Hallowed Grounds (15 minutes), hosted by Sean Clark, shows the original shooting locations as they appear today. Actor Tom Atkins stops by for some fun and is briefly interviewed.
The deleted scenes (16 minutes) are video-sourced full-frame content. The majority of the material comprises character beats from each segment but also include a few quick bits of special effects.
The original theatrical trailer appears here along with a TV spot and a pair of radio ads.
A photo gallery (83 images) of international publicity shots and lobby cards is joined by a gallery of movie posters (30 images), color stills (29 images), a look at the make-up effects (75 images) and a gallery of behind-the-scenes photos (80 images).