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Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Creepshow 4K Ultra HD Review Scream Factory Gives Fresh Life to the Quintessential Horror Anthology

Although far from the first horror anthology, Creepshow quickly established itself as the quintessential one. After several stalled attempts to work together, George A. Romero and Stephen King — two undisputed masters in their respective fields, each in their prime — finally collaborated in 1982. With both creators having grown up on EC horror comics of the 1950s like Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, and The Haunt of Fear, it made sense that an homage to those works would bring the two titans of terror together.

Creepshow packs five tales (three originals and two adapted from existing King short stories) plus a wraparound that bookends the film in two hours flat. The Halloween-set framing story finds a disparaging father (genre legend Tom Atkins, sans signature mustache) lambasting his son (a young Joe Hill, King’s son and now a bestselling author himself) for reading horror comics before throwing away the latest issue of Creepshow. Beckoned by the silent host known as The Creep, the tales within the discarded comic serve as the anthology’s segments.

“Father’s Day” tells the story of a different breed of dysfunctional family. Hank Blaine (Ed Harris, The Abyss) meets his new wife’s family at their annual Father’s Day gathering, where he learns about the open secret that Aunt Bedelia (Viveca Lindfors, Stargate) killed her abusive father, Nathan (John Amplas, Day of the Dead), and distributed his fortune among the rest of the family. Unfortunately for all involved, the zombified Nathan returns for revenge… and cake.

Jordy Verrill

King would later make appearances in several adaptations of his work, but prior to Creepshow his only acting experience was a brief cameo in Romero’s Knightriders a year earlier. As such, it was a big swing to cast him as the lead in “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill.” Based on King’s 1976 short story “Weeds” (itself a riff on H. P. Lovecraft’s “The Colour Out of Space”), the plot centers on the titular bumpkin who discovers a meteorite on his farm. It’s not long before a grass-like substance begins to engulf his entire being. King’s comic performance isn’t bad per se, but it’s over-the-top even in comparison to the heightened reality in which the rest of the movie exists.

“Something to Tide You Over” employs the same hook as the first segment — the dead returning from the grave for retribution — but with better execution and more tension. Cuckolded millionaire Richard Vickers (Leslie Nielsen, just before he become synonymous with comedy) buries his wife (Gaylen Ross, Dawn of the Dead) and her lover (Ted Danson, Cheers) up to the neck in sand and waits for the tide to come in, but the sea won’t quench their thirst for vengeance.

Based on King’s 1979 short story of the same name, “The Crate” is the longest — and most developed — segment at 38 minutes. When a mysterious crate from 1834 is discovered on a college campus, professor Dexter Stanley (Fritz Weaver, Marathon Man) makes the mistake of unlocking the chains that bind it, unleashing a ferocious creature from within. He alerts fellow professor Henry Northup (Hal Holbrook, The Fog) of the situation, who attempts to utilize the beast to rid him of his demeaning wife, Billie (a full-camp Adrienne Barbeau, Escape from New York).

Ghouls and monsters don’t scare me, but bugs give me the heebie jeebies. In pristine 4K, I couldn’t help but watch bits of “They’re Creeping Up on You” through my fingers. The final segment centers on cold-hearted, germaphobic businessman Upson Pratt (E.G. Marshall, Christmas Vacation) as his sterile penthouse is infiltrated by hundreds of creeping, crawling cockroaches.

Like traversing through a haunted house, each tale of terror features stylized lighting by cinematographer Michael Gornick (who curiously abandoned much of the vibrancy when he stepped into the director’s chair on Creepshow 2) and a playful soundtrack that mixes a synthesizer score by John Harrison (Day of the Dead) with vintage library music. Tom Savini’s (who cameos in the epilogue) special effects may not be as realistic as his work in Friday the 13th or Dawn of the Dead, but they’re befitting of the comic book tone.

Creepshow has been newly scanned in 4K from the original camera negative with Dolby Vision HDR for Scream Factory’s new 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray edition. A new Dolby Atmos track is included along with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0 options. Special features are identical to the 2018 Blu-ray release — which was stacked — but the new scan’s impossibly vivid primary colors further the comic book quality. Unlike the average 4K UHD combo pack, extras are divided among the two discs.

The film is accompanied by four audio commentaries: a casual chat with Romero and Savini, moderated by Red Shirt Pictures’ Michael Felsher, circa 2007; an informative 2018 track with Gornick, moderated by film critic Lee Carr; another 2018 track with composer/first assistant director John Harrison and construction coordinator Ed Fountain, also moderated by Felsher; and a collection of audio interviews with Gornick, Amplas, property master Bruce Alan Miller, and make-up effects assistant Darryl Ferrucci conducted by Felsher in 2013. It’s a treat to hear so many different perspectives from the production.

“Terror and the Three Rivers” is a half-hour roundtable discussion with Amplas, Atkins, Savini, and grip/actor Marty Schiff, hosted by Felsher. A casual alternative to standard talking-head interviews, the featurette invites viewers to sit at the table as the old friends share anecdotes from the production, like King writing Christine during filming and naming the car after Romero’s then-wife. Individual interviews with Gornick (focusing on the restoration), re-recording mixer Chris Jenkins, costume designer Barbara Anderson, and animator Rick Catizone (who shares his original artwork) are also included.

Other special features include: a look at Mondo’s Creepshow limited edition prints with co-founder Rob Jones and gallery events planner Josh Curry, which hits harder now that Funko has gutted the company; a showcase of Romero superfan Dave Burian’s impressive collection of original props and collectibles; Horror’s Hallowed Grounds filming location tour with a special appearance by Atkins; 25 minutes of behind-the-scenes special effects footage from Savini’s archive; 18 deleted sequences, ranging from short scenes to bits of dialogue; English and Spanish theatrical trailers; a TV spot; two radio spots; and five galleries (posters & lobby cards, movie posters, stills, special effects makeup, and behind the scenes).

Like a Rorschach test or an astrological sign, you can learn a lot about a person based on their favorite Creepshow short. Viewers go into any anthology subconsciously looking for the best and worst segments, by virtue of the format, but Creepshow‘s delicate balance of consistency and well-roundedness make it stand out from the pack. The dream team of Romero and King — not to mention the pedigree of Savini and a stacked cast — successfully channeled the spirit of EC comics into five bite-sized tales of comeuppance replete with spooky atmosphere.

Creepshow is available now on 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray via Scream Factory.

The post ‘Creepshow’ 4K Ultra HD Review – Scream Factory Gives Fresh Life to the Quintessential Horror Anthology appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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