US 1982, 120m, United Film Distribution/Laurel
Blu-Ray: Second Sight (UK), Cert 15
When a child's beloved issue of horror comic Creepshow is thrown out by his disgusted father, the wind blows the pages open to reveal five of its twisted tales. The dead come back to life, an alien life form reaches Earth, an act of beachfront revenge has an unexpected outcome, a creature is released from a crate after years of hibernation and a bug infestation gets out of hand...
Revisiting their childhood love of such EC comic titles as Tales From The Crypt and Vault Of Horror, George A. Romero and Stephen King collaborated on this portmanteau collection emulating their style. Amicus Productions had, of course brought several stories from the original comics to the screen in the early 1970's, but where Creepshow crucially differs in approach from earlier attempts is that it aims to visually capture the look and feel of the printed counterpart, right down to the framing and captions found in the comics. It's an approach which doesn't always hit the bullseye, but the love that both writer and director share for their subject generally wins through.
The stories themselves are an enjoyable pot-pourri which touch many of the right bases: revenge from beyond the grave, alien organisms, nature gone wild, murderous creatures, even good old-fashioned human malice, there's something from the horror recipe book to suit just about every taste.
There's plenty of familiar and reliable faces throughout, too: Ed Harris, Leslie Nielsen, Viveca Lindfors, Ted Danson, Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins, E.G. Marshall, Fritz Weaver and more, including a memorable turn from King himself as a backwoods hick farmer, plus a brief appearance from Dawn Of The Dead heroine Gaylen Ross.
Unlike the earlier Amicus efforts, it does feel at times more like watching a marathon of individual episodes rather than a linked portmanteau, and at two hours long it could benefit from being one story shorter. Trouble is, everyone's opinion on what to cut would be different, a bit like trying to trim The Beatles' White Album to one disc. Like that particular double LP, Creepshow retains its considerable charms despite, or perhaps because of its imperfections - flawed, yet still an impressive achievement and a genre classic.
BLU-RAY NOTES: An emulsion scratch through the Warner Bros logo doesn't bode well (couldn't a better quality logo have been grafted from another source?), but thankfully once the film proper begins it's a surprisingly detailed transfer. Some segments fare better than others (the "Jordy Verrill" section does seem particularly soft), but overall this is a very solid presentation considering the source material. The soundtrack is well rendered too, and John Harrison's fantastic theme sounds great, particularly when I remember the wobbly track on the cherished VHS copy from my childhood...
The extras on offer from Second Sight are a massive improvement on the US-release, with a full feature length making-of documentary, 2 commentaries, deleted scenes, trailer and TV spot, effects featurette with Tom Savini, plus multiple image galleries. A highly recommended release.
Original Theatrical Trailer: