I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Preston Barta // Features Editor
Rated R, 120 minutes.
Director: George A. Romero
Cast: Hal Holbrook, Leslie Nielsen, Adrienne Barbeau, E.G. Marshall, Viveca Lindfors, Ed Harris, Ted Danson, Stephen King and Carrie Nye
Available today through shoutfactory.com/shop.
Scream Factory (the horror leg of Shout Factory) has gone above and beyond with the collector’s edition of 1982’s CREEPSHOW, an anthology film developed by author/screenwriter Stephen King and late director George A. Romero.
This is perhaps the prettiest packaging the distribution company has ever done, with a hard-cased slipcover featuring original artwork, a special booklet and a disc loaded with all-new and vintage bonus content.
From a 2018 perspective, CREEPSHOW doesn’t hold up too well. It may have feature some of the most iconic horror images, such as the human head cake platter, the creeper itself (a skeleton that watches you from outside your bedroom window) and Stephen King (who hilariously portrays a country bumpkin) slowly turning into a plant, but it runs a little long at two hours and doesn’t always focus on the most interesting aspects of each story.
Assuming you know the story of each story, here are some quick thoughts on each:
Story 1: “Father’s Day” – Sets a creepy tone for the entire film. Runs a little too long, focusing on the most uninteresting aspects of the emotionally abusive daddy coming back from the dead to get his cake story. However, I must admit, it’s pretty humorous to watch Ed Harris boot scootin’ boogie in some blue jeans. The film needed more zombie kills. Needed to explore the telekinetic zombie powers more. Needed to show Aunt Bedelia’s head on the cake platter over Sylvia Grantham’s. Still effective.
Story 2: “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verril” – How much you like Stephen King’s over-the-top performance as the titular Jordy Verril will determine whether your like this segment or not. It’s obviously bad, but it has an enjoyable energy to it. It’s especially funny to see Jordy daydream about the acclaim he would receive if he sold the meteorite. Being who he is: he accidentally breaks the meteorite in half and (also) daydreams about how it would play out if he tried to sell it in a damaged condition. The fact that he and the environment around him slowly turn into the Grinch (lots of weeds and moss) is as ridiculous as a goofy episode of GOOSEBUMPS, but it’s all good fun. It even has a cold ending, which reflects some of my favorite horror movies of the ’70s and ’80s, like BASKET CASE.
Story 3: “Something to Tide You Over” – The third short isn’t particularly scary, but it’s haunting. The best thing about it is Leslie Nielsen’s menacing turn as Richard Vickers, a rich dude who develops an elaborate plan to drown his wife’s lover (Ted Danson). It also runs a little long, but the thought of being in Danson’s shoes is unsettling.
Story 4: “The Crate” – Starring Hal Holbrook and Adrienne Barbeau, “The Crate” is easily the most entertaining of the bunch. It’s a simple story of a monster locked away in a crate and the rocky relationship between two unfit lovers. The segment uses humor and horror to the best of its ability, while the other sections fall short.
Story 5: “They’re Creeping Up On You” – Similar to “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verril,” this final chapter rests on the shoulders of one performance. In this case, it’s E.G. Marshall as Upson Pratt, another rich dude, but this one is scared to death of cockroaches. This one also runs too long (each section should have been trimmed down). It contains the most disturbing images of the entire film, however. The site of roaches exploding out of the body is nightmare fuel.
Prologue/Epilogue: CREEPSHOW begins and ends with King’s son, Joe Hill, being the kid who’s obsessed with horror stories. It’s hilarious the film teases all the stories that will unfold at the top. And how it ends, with Joe’s young Billy stabbing a voodoo doll to kill his horror-hating dad (Tom Atkins), is a hell of a way to end it. Shout out to Tom Savini’s cameo!
The new 4K scan of the film is as good as the picture quality gets. The film has a unique comic book look, using a live-action/animation mix and bright colors to keep its stories of death alive. The sharpness of the characters and creatures make the film feel as though it’s a new release.
The collector’s edition also includes a new audio commentary with cinematographer Michael Gornick (who also approved and supervised the 4K scan of the film), a new roundtable discussion (all the stories from makeup effects artist Tom Savini are the best), new interviews, and vintage featurettes (including an audio commentary with Romero and Savini, a slew of audio interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, deleted scenes, still galleries and marketing material).
Movie Grade: B-
Overall Grade: A
Also, check out my more in-depth review of the release on My Bloody Podcast.
Complete List of Bonus Features:
- NEW 4K Scan Of The Original Camera Negative – Color Correction Supervised And Approved By Director Of Photography Michael Gornick
- Audio Commentary With Director George A. Romero And Special Make-Up Effects Creator Tom Savini
- NEW Audio Commentary With Director Of Photography Michael Gornick
- NEW Audio Commentary With Composer/First Assistant Director John Harrison And Construction Coordinator Ed Fountain
- NEW Terror And The Three Rivers – A Round Table Discussion On The Making Of Creepshow With John Amplas, Tom Atkins, Tom Savini, And Marty Schiff
- NEW The Comic Book Look – An Interview With Costume Designer Barbara Anderson
- NEW Ripped From The Pages – An Interview With Animator Rick Catizone
- NEW The Colors Of Creepshow – A Look At The Restoration of Creepshow With Director Of Photography Michael Gornick
- NEW Into The Mix – An Interview With Sound Re-recordist Chris Jenkins
- NEW Mondo Macabre – A Look At Mondo’s Various Creepshow Posters With Mondo Co-Founder Rob Jones And Mondo Gallery Events Planner Josh Curry
- NEW Collecting Creepshow – A Look At Some Of The Original Props And Collectibles From The Film With Collector Dave Burian
- Audio Interviews With Director Of Photography Michael Gornick, Actor John Amplas, Property Master Bruce Alan Miller, And Make-up Effects Assistant Darryl Ferrucci
- Tom Savini’s Behind-The-Scenes Footage
- Horror’s Hallowed Grounds – A Look At The Original Film Locations Hosted By Sean Clark
- Deleted Scenes
- Theatrical Trailers
- TV Spot
- Radio Spots
- Still Galleries – Posters, Lobby Cards, And Movie Stills
- Still Galleries – Behind The Scenes Photos