A young kid (Joe King) is being harangued by his father (Tom Atkins) about his choice of reading matter. The kid likes horror comics and his father is outraged at this, giving him a slap when he protests and confiscating the boy's latest issue of Creepshow. He leaves his son in his room to think about what he has done and then goes out to put the comic in the garbage, but when his wife approaches the matter that he may be a little too hard on the boy, he dismisses her, saying "That's why God made fathers!" However, upstairs the boy looks out of his window to see the Creepshow Crypt Keeper grinning skeletally - and he's pleased to see him...
As you might guess from that prologue, Creepshow was director George A. Romero and writer Stephen King's tribute to the old E.C. horror comics of their youth, the kind of material that was frowned upon by parents, so much so that they ended up being heavily regulated or even banned when it was thought they warped tiny minds. This was a five-story anthology much in the vein of the sixties and seventies Amicus portmanteau chillers, though with a much stronger effort to recreate the look of those lurid comic panels of the fifties.
There's not one dud tale in the whole batch, but for those who had enjoyed Romero's heyday of the past decade, he seemed to be working at something less than full power here, neither satirically funny enough or truly scary enough in what King had scripted for him. That said, there are plenty of people who have caught this over the years who have fond memories of it, and its chuckling and indulgent take on those frightfests of yore was amusing, if lacking any real shocks - the sting in the tail, a custom of those E.C. comics, didn't have much kick here.
The first story is probably the weakest, with Romero returning briefly to zombie territory when a family gathering turns nasty as the elderly patriarch makes a comeback for Father's Day - despite being dead. Then another short one, where King himself plays poor old Jordy, a hick who finds a crashed meteorite which infects him, and the surrounding area, with a plant-based invasion. This is the only one where we're supposed to feel sorry for the character at the heart of the mishaps, and King is entertainingly broad in his playing.
After that, Leslie Nielsen comes up with a gruesome way to take revenge on his cheating wife and her boyfriend (Ted Danson), proving, if nothing else, how fun it is to see unlikely actors cast in horrors. The tide coming in over Danson's head is a suitably unpleasant reason for Nielsen's millionaire to pay. Following is the longest segment and the most enjoyable performance courtesy of Adrienne Barbeau as a shrewish loudmouth wife of university professor Hal Holbrook who dreams of being rid of her. When a hundred-year-old crate is discovered under some stairs, its contents might well grant his wish if he can work out a plan.
Lastly, E.G. Marshall stars as yet another evil millionaire with a cleanliness obsession in probably the most disgusting section. Those with an aversion to cockroaches (which must be just about everybody) will not forget how he receives his comeuppance. For the most part, the victims here deserve their fate according to the moralistic world of these stories, and much of the enjoyment stems from how fitting they are. Creepshow may not be a classic, but it's more imaginative than a lot of eighties horror - it was for the fans, really, a meeting of minds between two of their favourite fearmakers of the day (not forgetting makeup expert Tom Savini also along for the ride) who proceeded to pamper them with unpretentious, no-strings entertainment. Music by John Harrison.
American writer/director and one of the most influential figures in modern horror cinema, whose ability to write strong scripts and characters match his penchant for gory chills. The Pittsburgh native began his career directing adverts before making Night of the Living Dead in 1968. This bleak, scary classic ushered in a new era of horror film-making, but Romero struggled initially to follow it up - There's Always Vanilla is a little-seen romantic drama, and Jack's Wife was butchered by its distributor. The Crazies was a flop but still an exciting slice of sci-fi horror, and while the dark vampire drama Martin again made little money but got Romero some of the best reviews of his career and remains the director's personal favourite.