The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan



Creepshow performed respectably at the box office when it opened in 1982, earning $21 million (or the equivalent of $65 million in today's dollars). It wasn't until it became a staple on HBO a short time later that the movie solidified its status as a cult favorite. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see why it's so beloved among the horror crowd. It was written by Stephen King and directed by George A. Romero. Despite the pedigree, there's never been a really good home video release of Creepshow until now. Scream Factory has a Blu-ray Collector's Edition that boasts a spiffy new 4K scan and several hours worth of bonus features. It's mind-blowingly good.

The film presents itself as an old horror comic come to life. There's a wraparound story involving an angry dad (Tom Atkins) throwing away his son's beloved comic. From there, we are treated to five stories contained within that book. An elderly man rises from the grave to torment his descendants. A hick farmer (played by King) finds himself overtaken by weeds after touching a meteor that landed in his field. A cuckolded man (Leslie Nielsen) buries his wife's lover (Ted Danson) up to his neck in the sand and waits for the tide to come in, only to wish he hadn't. An ape-like creature wreaks havoc on a college campus. And, in the final story, a fastidious man (E.G. Marshall) finds his spotless penthouse apartment overrun by roaches.

Romero did something really interesting with Creepshow, in that he designed the film to physically resemble a comic book. Horror moments often have a cartoonish frame around the edges, strong colored lighting, and/or the actors standing in front of a patterned background. That was a radical approach in 1982, one that still maintains its effectiveness today.

Creepshow also benefits from having a sense of humor about itself. This is a prime example of "fun horror." It's the kind of scary that makes you smile as you shiver, rather than making you worry about having nightmares. Again, it draws that influence from the famed DC horror comics of yesteryear, which were devoted to having a winking sense of the macabre.

As with any anthology film, some stories are better than others. Even so, there are no outright clunkers here, just five entertaining tales told with great style. All the actors get the tone Romero is aiming for, which helps sell the material. (And Stephen King is weirdly hilarious playing a rube.) The gore and creature effects, meanwhile, are impressively done. All of it adds up to a horror flick that stands the test of time.

Blu-ray Features:

Aside from the new 4K scan, Scream Factory's Collector's Edition Blu-ray contains three separate audio commentaries -- one from Romero and make-up effects creator Tom Savini, another from director of photography Michael Gornick, and a third from composer/first assistant director John Harrison and construction coordinator Ed Fountain.

The featurettes begin with a 30-minute conversation between Tom Savini, grip Marty Schiff, and actors Tom Atkins and John Amplas. The men discuss working with Romero, tell personal anecdotes about the late director, and reflect back on the making of Creepshow. The camaraderie between them is strong, so watching this segment feels like you're actually sitting around chatting with them.

Michael Gornick gets a segment in which he talks about being able to color-correct Creepshow properly for the first time ever. Modern technology has allowed him to emphasize color in a bold way, as he and Romero intended. Animator Rick Catizone does an interview, as well, talking about how he achieved the film's animated sequences. He also shows off some original cel drawings he made for Creepshow.

Costume designer Barbara Anderson appears in yet another featurette, providing information about (appropriately) the movie's costumes, while sound re-recordist Chris Jenkins reveals some of the audio techniques used to give it an especially creepy vibe. Mondo co-founder Rob Jones and Mondo Gallery Events Planner Josh Curry show off the multiple alternate posters their company made to celebrate Creepshow. Finally, collector Dave Burian displays some of the official props he's accumulated over the years.

Believe it or not, there's much more still to come. The disc has 45 minutes of Tom Savini's behind-the-scenes footage, a "Horror's Hallowed Grounds" segment looking at some of the locations then and now, a small collection of deleted scenes, and a promotional gallery that contains theatrical trailers, TV and radio spots, and several still galleries. There's even a nice 36-page booklet inside, with an essay by Fangoria's Michael Gingold.

This Scream Factory release is a perfect example of how to do a Collector's Edition right. Any self-respecting Creepshow fan will think they've died and gone to heaven.

Creepshow is rated R for sequences of violence/gore and strong language. The running time is 2 hours.

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