“Creepshow”

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“Come on Harry, the maiden fair waits for her knight in shining corduroy.”

To mark the occasion of the one-year anniversary of my association with Mark Jeacoma and his wonderful VHS Rewind! podcast and blog, I am adding a previous review I wrote for the 1982 horror anthology, “Creepshow”, and adapting it for this Vintage Cable Box review.  This was a movie I absolutely fell in love with when I first saw it on cable television in 1984.

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“Creepshow”, 1982 (Leslie Nielsen), Warner Bros.

It seems most movies these days are based around comic books and toys, but in 1982, the double-whammy collaboration of Stephen King and George A. Romero, produced the original comic-book adaptation, “Creepshow”, one of the great horror movies of the early 1980s. Obviously inspired by Max Gaines and Educational Comics’ “Tales From the Crypt”, “The Vault of Horror” and later, Mad Magazine, “Creepshow” gives us five fun stories loaded with graphic violence and intended for adults only.

George A. Romero, best known for “Night of the Living Dead”, the grandfather of the modern zombie movie, had directed cult favorites, “The Crazies”, “Martin”, and “Knightriders”. King, reportedly a fan of Romero’s work, suggested they collaborate on “The Stand” and wrote “Creepshow” as a sample screenplay to see if the two could successfully work together. This was, no doubt, due to the disappointment he felt from Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of King’s “The Shining”.

“Creepshow” is an anthology of five stories about familial revenge, hapless hillbillies, a tasmanian devil in a crate, the consequences of infidelity, and cockroaches (lots of freaking cockroaches!). What really propels the stories is a wicked sense of humor, dark comedy, and lots of gore. A great cast (Ted Danson and Ed Harris in early roles, Leslie Nielsen in one of his last dramatic roles, Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, Fritz Weaver, and E.G. Marshall) round out the carnage, and though the film only earned modest reciepts at the box office, it did very well in pay TV and home video markets.

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“Free to be you and me! It’s okay for boys to play with dolls!”

Romero’s lighting, use of shadow and bold primary color along with the continuity device of using comic book cells and the framing story of an abusive father and his sociopathic son (played by Stephen King’s son, Joe) deconstruct the horror genre and places it in a post-modern context, much like Romero would do with “Day of the Dead”, the underrated “Monkey Shines”, and “Tales From The Darkside” (an anthology television series based, in part, on “Creepshow”).

“Creepshow” was followed by two lackluster sequels, “Creepshow 2” in 1987 (based on stories, not a script by King), and the “unofficial” no-budget “Creepshow 3” in 2007. Romero would later work with Stephen King for “The Dark Half” in 1993, but that film was shelved for two years due to Orion’s impending bankruptcy.

Happy Halloween Everybody!

Our first cable box was a non-descript metal contraption with a rotary dial and unlimited potential (with no brand name – weird). We flipped it on, and the first thing we noticed was that the reception was crystal-clear; no ghosting, no snow, no fuzzy images. We had the premium package: HBO, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, CNN, The Disney Channel, and the local network affiliates. About $25-$30 a month. Each week (and sometimes twice a week!), “Vintage Cable Box” explores the wonderful world of premium Cable TV of the early eighties.

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