Color, 1982, 120 mins.

Directed by George A. Romero

Starring Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, Fritz Weaver, Leslie Nielsen, E.G. Marshall, Carrie Nye, Viveca Lindfors, Ed Harris, Ted Danson, Stephen King, Gaylen Ross, Tom Atkins / Produced by Richard P. Rubinstein / Music by John Harrison / Cinematography by Michael Gornick / Written by Stephen King

Format: DVD - Warner (MSRP $19.95)

Letterboxed (1.85:1) (16x9 enhanced) / Dolby Digital 2.0

"Five jolting tales of terror!" promised the teaser posters for Creepshow, the landmark collaboration between director George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead) and Stephen King. Of course, most viewers didn't really expect what they got: a loving, colorful homage to the twisted and controversial E.C. Comics of the '50s, which featured nasty people getting their just and gory desserts. Of course, Creepshow also kicked off the '80s horror anthology wave on television which began with Romero's Tales from the Darkside and continued with HBO's Tales from the Crypt (not to mention Freddy's Nightmares and Friday the 13th: The Series, but that's another story). Creepshow also spawned its own sequel, which couldn't come close to the level of gruesome wit displayed here.

The entire film revolves around a horror comic book discovered by an angry father (Tom Atkins) in his son's room. After tossing out the book, viewers are treated to each story, introduced and punctuated throughout with stylized framing devices, wipes, dialogue balloons, and garish backgrounds. In "Father's Day," a family of bickering rich snots, including the murderous Aunt Cordelia (Viveca Lindfors), gathers to honor Father's Day in memory of their late patriarch, Nathan. Featuring a young, disco dancing Ed Harris (also in Romero's Knightriders), the clan meets a grisly end one by one as Nathan (played by Martin's John Amplas, though you'd never recognize him!) rises from his grave and demands, "I want my Father's Day cake!" Next up is "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill," the anthology's weakest link, in which Stephen King himself appears as a redneck who discovers a smoldering meteorite in his backyard. Dumb Jordy pours water on the smoking rock, which cracks open and spews out a glowing green goo. After touching the weird fluid, Jordy finds himself slowly being consumed by a weird kind of weedy fungus and resorts to extreme measures to relieve himself of this itching, growing affliction.

Things really kick into gear with "Something to Tide You Over," featuring a smoothly menacing Leslie Nielsen as a millionaire who's less than pleased with the infidelity of his young wife (Dawn of the Dead's Gaylen Ross). Nielsen decides to put his private beach to use by burying Ross and her lover, Ted Danson, up to their necks in sand and watching via closed circuit television as the tide swallows them up. All goes according to plan... until night falls. "The Crate," a gloriously over the top showcase for Hal Holbrook and Adrienne Barbeau, features this memorable pair as a university professor and his shrewish wife. When a janitor discovers a mysterious crate in the college basement and gets consumed by the creature inside, Holbrook and his colleague, Fritz Weaver, decide to clean up the mess and deal with this uncanny find. However, Holbrook also devises a plan for the crate that doesn't involve going to the police-- but does involve an encounter between Barbeau and the fluffy monster inside. Finally, "They're Creeping Up on You" (an extremely apt title) presents E.G. Marshall as a pathologically clean, racist recluse who contains his financially secure existence within his antiseptically clean penthouse. Unfortunately, a roach manages to sneak its way in. And another. And another...

Long one of the most highly requested titles on DVD, Creepshow makes for a fine presentation from Warner in both a full frame (unmatted) version and an amamorphically enhanced widescreen transfer, framed identically to the earlier laserdisc release. Both versions look just fine, with Romero's super-saturated colors bursting off the screen. Some very minor flaws in the print itself are apparent upon close inspection, but Creepshow won't look any better outside of a theater. While the unmatted side looks fine, the widescreen version is more effective as it focuses the compositions more tightly and removes some extraneous, distracting information at the top and bottom of the screen during the transitions between stories. The Dolby Surround soundtrack features some nice directional effects ranging from thunderclaps to John Harrison's imaginative, creepy score (well deserving of a CD release in the U.S.), which is typically seasoned with some of Romero's beloved mono library music cues. The fun theatrical trailer, done in the comic style of the film, is also included, both matted and full frame, and looks surprisingly good. A fine presentation, particularly at that price, and even fans who already have the laser should definitely consider picking this one up.

Mondo Digital Reviews Mondo Digital Links Frequently Asked Questions