31 Horror Films #7 Creepshow 1982 Dir. George A. Romero

Creepshow 1982 Dir. George A. Romero

In the early 1950s comics took a turn for the lurid. Superheroes were still popular, but other genres arose in the medium. Westerns, crime and war stories all appeared in four-color glory, but the most popular was the horror comic.

EC comics featured horrifying comer art with potent and gory morality tales about vampires and ghouls claiming revenge on those that had wronged them. Titles like The "Vault of Horror" and "Tales From the Crypt" set the gold standard for horror in those days. Unfortunately a man by the name of Dr. Frederick Wertham would write a book called "Seduction of the Innocent", whose main thrust was to correlate child delinquency with comic books.

The big companies in the comics industry made changes, developing the Comics Code Authority, in order to "police themselves" from the horrors of the supernatural in their medium. EC comics was railroaded, their bread and butter was gory horror comics and with these new developments, Dr. Wertham and mothers everywhere may have felt safer, but there were now a lot of people out of work.

In the late 70s/early 80s, horror masters Stephen King and George A. Romero decided they wanted to do a project together. King was at his zenith, (appearing in credit card commercials) and Romero was in between finishing the last of his original Dead trilogy (Dawn of the Dead 1978 and Day of the Dead 1985. Having both grown up with the horror comics of the 1950s, King and Romero wanted to do an homage to that style of storytelling, thus Creepshow was created.

Creepshow is an "Anthology film" or a "Portmanteau film" using the format of telling a series of different stories with bookends that tie everything together. The bookends in this case revolve around a young boy, Billy*, who gets yelled at and slapped by his father for reading a horror comic. Billy sees the ghostly apparition of the "Creepshow Creep" from his comic and the film transitions into an animated sequence reflecting the aesthetics of 50s horror comics. Billy eventually gets his revenge through the very comic that his father despises. Creepshow gathers a fun collection of stories featuring alien plant life, killer cockroaches, birthday zombie and a crate monster used for revenge. The cast includes some brilliant talent featuring Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, Leslie Nielsen, Ed Harris, E.G. Marshall, Ted Danson and even King himself. The film wallows in the same black humor and grotesqueries that made the EC comics so memorable.

There have been subsequent sequels but none have matched the level of adoration and reverence for King and Romero's original inspiration. If you haven't seen Creepshow, you should check it out. it is a perfect horror film to watch with friends, as the enjoyment will be magnified with more of an audience.

* Played by Stephen King's own son, Joe. He would grow up to become horror novelist Joe Hill, creator of "Horns", "Nos4a2" and Locke & Key"

Watch the trailer HERE