Scream Factory’s new Collector's Edition Blu-ray of the 1982 horror anthology Creepshow might just be the release of the year. Between an amazing new 4K restoration, a host of new special features, and even the very cool new cover art and packaging, the movie is finally receiving the love and care it has deserved for more than 35 years. This is Creepshow as it should be.
Directed by the late, great George A. Romero and written by the equally great Stephen King, Creepshow remains, as far as this writer is concerned, the best horror anthology ever made. It tells five stories in the grand tradition of 1950s EC comics, in which the dead are constantly rising up to get revenge and the guilty receive their just desserts. The tagline from its original theatrical release, “The most fun you’ll ever have getting scared,” represents one of the only times in horror history that a movie was able to make good on its sensational promise. Creepshow is the most fun you’ll ever have getting scared.
There’s probably no need to recount the individual stories, as hopefully every horror fan has already seen the movie a dozen times. In “Father’s Day,” a wealthy family reunites for their annual Father’s Day dinner only to have their deceased patriarch show up as an uninvited guest. “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill” stars writer Stephen King as a simple-minded hick who touches some meteor shit and experiences some bizarre side effects. “Something to Tide You Over” finds Leslie Nielsen as a jilted husband who decides to torture and punish his wife (Gaylen Ross) and her new lover (Ted Danson). Hal Holbrook stars in “The Crate” as a put-upon college professor who is wrapped up in something monstrous when a mysterious crate arrives from the Arctic. Finally, for bug lovers, there’s “They’re Creeping Up on You,” in which E.G. Marshall plays a rich, miserable businessman totally shut off from the outside world in his sterile apartment… until he develops a bit of a cockroach problem.
Creepshow has always held a special place in my heart, as it was the first R-rated horror movie I was ever allowed to see as a kid. It’s a movie I return to time and again, and it seems like my favorite segment alternates every few years (though never you, Jordy Verrill. Sorry.). Every frame of this movie is a colorful, larger-than-life, gruesome delight, with every story getting exactly the right payoff and every actor knowing what movie they’re in so they can pitch their performances perfectly. Though he’s made more than his share of masterpieces, George Romero has never had so much fun behind the camera; every time I revisit Creepshow, I can just imagine him and Stephen King cracking up offscreen, giddy with what they’re pulling off. The tone of the movie is such a tricky one, as it’s rarely overtly comedic, but always darkly funny. It never backs down from the horror elements, throwing zombies and creatures and some pretty gnarly gore into the mix courtesy of the great Tom Savini, and yet it’s impossible to watch even the most horrifying moments and not have a smile on your face. The movie is a magic trick I’ve never seen repeated.
The early days of the Blu-ray format saw Warner Bros. releasing Creepshow in decent-looking HD, but with virtually no extras. Thanks to Scream Factory’s recent licensing partnership with the studio, the movie can get the super deluxe treatment it so richly deserves, and we horror fans can finally own a definitive version of one of the best horror movies of the 1980s and one of my favorites of all time. The new 4K scan of the movie, supervised and approved by cinematographer Michael Gornick (who would later go on to direct Creepshow 2, still his only feature credit to date as a director), is nothing less than a revelation: the image is sharper and more detailed, and the vibrant colors pop like never before. It’s hard to imagine the movie ever looking better than this. Besides retaining the original Romero/Savini commentary from the UK Blu-ray release, Scream Factory has included two brand new commentaries as well: the first from DP Michael Gornick and the second from construction coordinator Ed Fountain and John Harrison, who served as 1st Assistant Director and composed the movie’s wonderful, creepy score (and would go on to direct Tales from the Darkside: The Movie, which Romero used to call the “unofficial Creepshow 3”). It’s fun to hear different perspectives from different aspects of the production, all of whom have stories to tell and insight into what makes this such a special movie.
As if three commentaries aren’t enough, Scream Factory has also seen fit to include a ton of new interviews and featurettes with a wide range of participants. My favorite of them all is a roundtable discussion that gathers Tom Savini, co-star Tom Atkins (who plays the angry dad in the movie’s wraparound segments), co-star Marty Schiff (also of the wraparound), and John Amplas, who performs under a lot of makeup in “Father’s Day.” Costume designer Barbara Anderson is interviewed, as is Rick Catizone, who was responsible for the movie’s animations. Gornick appears again on camera to talk about the process of restoring the film, while sound re-recordist Chris Jenkins offers a glimpse into a technical role that’s hardly ever talked about in any kind of DVD or Blu-ray special features.
For diehard Creepshow fans, there’s a featurette on several original posters with Mondo Co-Founder Rob Jones and Mondo Gallery Event Planner Josh Curry, as well as a piece with Dave Burian, who offers a look at some of the props and cool collectibles he has as part of his massive Creepshow collection. In addition to all of this, a number of existing extras have been carried over: trailers, TV spots, deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes and promotional still galleries, audio-only interviews with Gornick, co-star John Amplas, prop master Bruce Alan Miller, and Darryl Ferrucci, who assisted Tom Savini on the makeup effects. Another installment of “Horror’s Hallowed Grounds” is also included, in which host Sean Clark visits various locations at which the movie was shot. Scream Factory has also packaged the Blu-ray case inside a handsome cardboard case alongside a 30-page booklet. It’s an incredible set.
The only thing that’s really missing from this collection (aside from maybe recollections from some of the principle cast) is the 2007 documentary Just Desserts: The Making of Creepshow, but that’s because it’s already available on Blu-ray from Synapse and is most likely not available for licensing. With the wealth of supplemental features already included, however, it’s hardly missed. Heck, I’d have been happy with just the gorgeous restoration of one of my favorite horror movies, so the fact that there’s so much bonus content on top of that is all just value added—and it’s a lot of value added. Almost 40 years (!!) after its release, Creepshow hasn’t lost a step in its ability to entertain, to thrill, to creep us out. The most fun you’ll ever have being scared, indeed.
Movie Score: 5/5, Disc Score: 5/5