Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Crate

With Halloween right around the corner, I see a ton of "essential holiday horror movies" lists apparently compiled by people with a very narrow sense of The Horror Film. Yes yes, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Exorcist, Psycho, Halloween etc., all incredible classics, ok? We get it. We've seen 'em though, and we've seen 'em a million times. Now another incredible film that I've personally seen a billion times is George Romero's Creepshow (1982), but somehow this film is strangely always absent from these "must see" hipster film lists. WTF?!! And like Halloween 3: Season of the Witch (another oddly slapped 'n shunned film), I can't think of a better movie for horror amateurs to get turned onto this season than the one with the five jolting Stephen King tales of terror! Seriously people, get your act together and revisit Creepshow, aside from the 70's Amicus EC adaptations, there's never been a better anthology horror movie ever made about horror comic books! Need something to refresh your rotten memory? How about the snarling, gore drenched centerpiece to the film, the one that made everyone in the world stop loving and start loathing Adrianne Barbeau-- The Crate! And how about Berni Wrightson's awesome version of it from the Creepshow graphic novel! If you need more reminders you can always revisit "Father's Day" and "Something to Tide You Over" in the THOIA archive, just click on the titles!

And oh yeah... just tell it to call ya "Billie!"


Brian Barnes said...

The last thing in the world any of us should really do is call into question King's judgement, and this might be a case of him wanting to give Wrightson something cool to draw or added SFX for the movie, but this is the one thing in Creepshow I didn't like -- revealing the monster in the crate. The story is great. Everything about it, the pacing, the setup, the characters, is perfect. I just wish they would have left the monster up to our imagination because this is one place where revealing it lessened the monster a bit. It's basically a giant wolverine!

I feel dirty for complaining about this, it is a masterpiece. And I love Halloween 3!

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

The beast in the crate is clearly of Lovecraftian inspiration (see some of his early stories on human regression), so yes, as usual with HPL creatures, imagination beats accurate visual description.
I have always seen the beast as an embodiment of the Professor's "wild side"... once released, you won't be able to control or destroy it. Cheap psychological interpretation, but not bad for a kid.

OK, tonight I'll revive my old dusty, musty Creepshow cassette. It is definitely a goldie. Even had a good intro... Too bad the sequel was lame.
And what a great, humorous artist Leslie Nielsen was before turning into a complete buffoon...

Mr. Cavin said...

You know I never noticed before, but you're right. Almost everybody leaves Creepshow off their seasonal holiday movie list. That's really strange. It's hard to imagine a better Halloween movie. Sure, kids these days all think their teen slashers and their zombie comedies and their Paranormal Activities represent the width and breadth of "horror"--but this tends to go for seasoned Halloween movie buffs, too. What gives?

I have zero problem seeing the monster in "The Crate", by the way. Creepshow was as much Tom Savini's movie as it was George Romero's or Stephen King's, and it would have skewed too much to the one sort of horror comic story to produce a movie with zombies and gore and no creature. But while we're admitting our own embarrassing opinions, I'll out myself for having never really loved Wrightson's adaptation. I mean, I don't hate it or anything, but I never preferred Bernie's color stuff and I feel like he's really pedestrian at the backgrounds and paneling. I realize he probably had to crank out some sixty pages in a very short time, and it's probably owing to his class and talent that the work is as good as it is. There are definitely some drop-dead beautiful work here and there, but mostly in the figures. "Something to Tide You Over" and "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill" fare the best, I think. But while Romero and King work really hard to emulate the pre-code inspiration for their masterpiece, the comic doesn't try to look like that at all, something that always sort of saddened me. Course, I understand that Bernie might have been a little shy about going full-bore Ingels for this project, too; and that's just exactly what I would've wanted him to do. So there's that.

Alex. G said...

Well said. I also avoid these "must see/top horror films" lists, I'd rather check out obscure and little known films that you're not sure what to expect from. Those tend to surprise me more than classics I already know everything about. No that there's anything wrong with the films on those lists though, it's just that the lists themselves are variations of ones from other sites and rarely bring any new films to your attention.

Unknown said...

I love this one! Hal Holbrook and Adrienne Barbeau were stellar in their roles. It was funny and scary at the same time, and I love the Lovecraftian influence.

JMR777 said...

Creepshow is a great horror flick, no doubt about it.
I decided (for better or worse) to see what Anthology horror movies made the top fifty or top hundred, though each list I came across is really a matter of opinion as to who made up the list, who voted for the top 50/100 (youngsters or film buffs) and so on.

The one Anthology film that I found in a few of the top 50/100 was ‘Dead of Night’ (1945).
Perhaps it was due to this film being in black and white that made it a must see film, since black and white horror films seem to fit the mood when it comes to horror (dark shadows, film noir, etc.)

I decided to search IMDB for the top horror movies (again, these were films that were chosen by IMDB viewers) and found the following top Anthology movies, top 500 anyway -

Kwaidan (1964) #22
Dead of Night (1945) #58
Three extremes (2004) #248
Tales From the Crypt (1972) #271
Tales of Terror (1962) #336
Creepshow #352
From Beyond the Grave (1974) #377
Trick r Treat (2007) #393
Twice Told Tales (1963) #407
Dr. Terrors house of Horrors (1965) #419
House That Dripped Blood (1971) #485
Vault of Horror (1973) #495

I didn’t see Cats eye (1985) Tales From the Darkside the Movie (1990) Asylum (1972) The Uncanny (1977) Or Twilight Zone, the Movie (1983) listed, or maybe I just missed them.

It seems Anthology films just don’t get much love among horror fans, which is a shame since so many of these Anthology horrors were so well made.

Creepshow needs a marketing campaign to get moved up in the horror lists.

Grant said...

I agree completely about anthology films. Apart from large parts of "The Veldt," I'm very attached to THE ILLUSTRATED MAN, so that's another one to list.
It's funny that in this film adaptation, Billie doesn't really look much like Adrienne Barbeau except to some degree on Page 15. (It's also a little odd that it doesn't play up the obvious thing when it comes to her!)
One surprising thing at the end is that cartoonish alarmed look that the fish are giving.

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

I just love "From Beyond the Grave" but I'm also glad you included "The House that dripped Blood" for its Vampire segment.

What about "I tre Volti della Paura" (Black Sabbath)? I think it's one of the best, together with "Trilogy of Terror"...

Mr. Cavin said...

JD: I am right there with you on the Bava movie. It's right up there with Creepshow for me--not least because it's obviously a direct inspiration.

Grant said...

Even though I've seen CREEPSHOW, it took me till now to notice that the NON-horror parts of the story owe more than a little to WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?

JMR777 said...

I'm sorry I missed "I tre Volti della Paura (Black Sabbath) and Trilogy of Terror, both were great films, my intent was to find as many horror anthology films that made the top 500 as I could, not to slight any horror film or horror film fan out there.

A few of my favorite Anthology horrors "From a Whisper to a Scream" AKA "The Offspring" (1987) and "The Monster Club" (1981) didn't make the list. There are so many Horror anthology films that get overlooked in the top 10/top 100/top 1000 lists, which is a shame since so many are a real treat to watch over and over.

Every follower of THOIA has their own personal best horror films list, which is OK since some love hard core horror, some prefer the old classics, some prefer so-bad-its-good horror and some like to watch a Shlock film for a film to laugh at (Plan 9 anyone?)

Speaking of shlock, Encounter With the Unknown (1973) wasn't on any horror best list (no wonder) but that oddball flick is a movie I watch occasionally as a reminder of the horror films they used to show on TV while I was growing up- its not the best, its not well made, but was a fun film to watch in a Saturday Afternoon many years ago.

JMR777 said...

Gallery of Horrors (1967) This movie was sort of like Night Gallery but without Rod Serling or much of a budget, but worth a look if you are a fan of John Carradine and/or Lon Chaney Jr.

There must be dozens of anthology horror movies out there, some great like Creepshow, some good enough for one or two viewings, some campy and shlocky worth a few laughs, As I said before, anthology Horror doesn't get much love or appreciation from a large portion of horror movie fans.

JMR777 said...

It figures, I do all that work tracking down Anthology horror films and IMDB previously made a list for it. its just the way things go for me I guess...

Mr. Karswell said...

Anthology films are my favorite type horror film too-- have yet to see one that I didn't like or at least find entertaining in some way. All mentioned here in the comments so far seem to be classics, but don't forget more recent ones as well like the VHS and ABCs of Death series (not 100% winners included, but they do have some highly recommended shorts for sure!) And Trick 'r Treat from 2007 has really started to grow on me as well after initially feeling it to be a bit meh. Anyone see the new Tales of Halloween anthology film yet?

Grant said...

I only saw it once, but if "Encounters With The Unknown" is the one I'm thinking of, it's a sort of low-budget movie answer to shows like "One Step Beyond," because it's full of "based on real events" type stories. So that makes it a little different.

I'm embarrassed I didn't think of "Gallery of Horrors" when it comes to this list, since I've always been very sentimental about it.

JMR777 said...

Happy Halloween Everybody!

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

I'll definitely check "Encounters", "Gallery" (maybe I saw it many years ago, not sure though) and "Offspring", thanks for the hints.
"The monster club" with Carradine-Price-Pleasence is also one of my faves. Just lovely.

edtonner said...

Thank you so much for posting this one... Creepshow was a brilliant homage to the old EC tales of the fifties. Makes a great comic too!