Creepshow is a movie that is more Twilight Zone in nature than something you'd expect from the minds of George Romero and Stephen King, but it's maintained a cult following over the years among horror fans, and is given a brand new 4K restoration here that is the highlight of this new release. Add to that a nice selection of bonus materials (both new and old), and it all adds up to another impressive Blu-ray release from the folks at Scream/Shout! Factory. While I personally don't think this anthology film is anything more than pretty average, loyal genre fans will almost certainly want to pick up this release, and given the restored image and bonus materials, I'm still putting this one firmly in the Recommended category.
Whatever horror fans were expecting from Director George Romero and Writer Stephen King in 1982's Creepshow, it almost certainly wasn't what they got here – a rather tame and very "mainstream" thriller that attempted to bring the concept of an anthology movie to the masses (1983's The Twilight Zone would do the same thing less than a year later). The result is far from fantastic and rather middling, overall, but that didn't stop people from swarming the box office, as Creepshow was the #1 movie the weekend of its release and went on to make a respectable $21 million (on a budget of about $8 million).
Unlike most anthology movies, Romero directed all of Creepshow's segments, and Stephen King penned all of its five stories (plus a bookend segment featuring his real-life son, Joe King, now known to everyone as author Joe Hill). The first story presented is "Father's Day" and, in many ways, it's the worst of the lot. It tells the story of the now-deceased Nathan Grantham (Jon Lormer), who was killed on Father's Day by his daughter, Bedelia (Viveca Lindfors). Ever since that day, Bedelia has returned to the family home to visit both Nathan's grave and her grandchildren. The most entertaining part of this segment is watching a young Ed Harris doing some disco dancing in a scene I'm sure he wishes would be erased from his movie resume.
Stephen King himself is the star of story #2, "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill", which is based on his short story "Weeds". King plays Jordy and gives him a very Jerry Lewis-like characterization, but sadly this segment also feels a bit lackluster (although it's better than "Father's Day"). A meteorite crashes onto Jordy's farm, and he's hoping to get a few bucks from the local college for the space rock. However, some goo from the rock gets on his hands and soon he finds weeds growing on his body...and growing...and growing.
Creepshow finally finds a story worth checking out in the third segment, "Something to Tide You Over". It stars two very recognizable future comedians – Leslie Nielsen and Ted Danson – playing it straight. Danson is Harry Wentworth, who has been having an affair with Becky Vickers (Gaylen Ross), Richard Vickers' (Nielsen) wife. As the tale begins, Richard pays Harry a visit, letting him know that he has Becky captive, and if Harry ever wants to see her alive again, he must do what he says. Richard takes Harry out to the beach and forces him to bury himself in sand, with only his head uncovered. Needless to say, Richard never had any intention of letting Harry save Becky, although this is the one story in the movie where you can say the heroes of the tale get their just revenge.
"The Crate" is based on a King short story of the same name, and for my money, it's Creepshow's best segment. This one stars the great Hal Holbrook as Henry Northup, a rather mild-mannered college professor with an extremely overbearing wife, Wilma (played by Adrienne Barbeau). His friend and fellow professor, Dexter Stanley (Fritz Weaver), has learned of a strange crate that has been discovered by a janitor in the basement of a campus building. When Northup learns of the vicious creature that has been found in the crate, he sees it as an opportunity to finally get rid of Wilma.
While most of the "gore" and effects used in Creepshow are pretty cartoonish by today's movie standards, the last segment, "They're Creeping Up On You" retains most of its visual impact thanks to the use of thousands of actual cockroaches. This story has E.G. Marshall as Upson Pratt, a germophobe and ill-tempered businessman who finds himself becoming obsessed with getting rid of one bug...until there are several...then more and more until his once pristine (and completely white and sterile) apartment is swarming with the critters. I'm no fan of cockroaches, so this segment was tough for me to sit through, but if you're okay with creepy crawlies, this bug's for you.
Because I only liked two (and really didn't "love" any) of Creepshow's five stories, I don't really have the passion for the movie that many others do, but I can understand why it's gained somewhat of a cult status over the years. As you'll read below, Scream/Shout! Factory has done a very good job on the 4K restoration and in providing new (and old) bonus materials – making this a strong release for those interested.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Creepshow stalks onto Blu-ray in this special collector's edition from Scream Factory (Shout! Factory's horror branch) with the 50GB disc housed inside a standard Elite keepcase. There are no inserts, but the case's slick is a reversible cover. There are no front-loaded trailers on the disc either, whose main menu is a montage of footage from the film, with menu selections listed vertically on the left lower portion of the screen.
The set also comes with a nice 36-page (not counting the front/back cover) full-color booklet that contains an essay about the movie and its production by Michael Gingold. The booklet and the keepcase slide inside a sturdy cardboard slipcover, which features new artwork for the movie (and sadly ruins its biggest shocks for those who have never seen the film).
The Blu-ray in this release is Region A locked.
Creepshow was shot on 35mm film and this Blu-ray release from Scream/Shout! Factory contains a brand-new 4K restoration of the movie (granted, one that only is presented in 1080p). While this reviewer never saw the film in theaters (and it's doubtful I'd remember what it looked like in terms of color timing anyway), the video presentation here is pretty impressive – containing rich colors (without over-saturation) and noticeable details, while still retaining a healthy dose of grain and maintaining the "look" of film.
Black levels aren't inky deep, but they're dark enough not to create issues of murkiness – at least in those places where murkiness is not intended. I also didn't pick up on any issues with aliasing or banding.
I don't think there will be any argument among fans that this is the best Creepshow has ever looked on home video, and this new restoration is certainly the highlight of this release.
In addition to the audio commentary tracks (detailed in our Supplements section below), the film comes with two audio options: a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track and a 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Naturally, I chose to listen to the bulk of the movie with the 5.1 track, but in comparison, I think "purists" of the film will be much happier with the 2.0 presentation, as the 5.1 track doesn't add a whole lot more to the mix (if you'll pardon the pun).
In fact, the 5.1 mix sounds a little "off" to my ears. The dialogue, while clear (if not exactly "crisp"), comes off as a bit flat (some forums online have members claiming the pitch is too high and while my ears don't hear what they're hearing, there's certainly something strange about the dialogue with the 5.1 audio), while the ambient sounds (and the soundtrack music) seem a little overbearing – as if they've been mixed at a higher level than the dialogue. The surrounds are used somewhat throughout, but not as aggressively as one would hope – and sometimes you can't even pick up that they're being used at all.
By comparison, the 2.0 track (although it obviously loses any feeling of immersion) seems much more even-handed and properly mixed across the board. Therefore, I think it's actually the better of the two tracks and the one I'll be going back to if/when I decide to watch the movie again in the future.
Subtitles are available in English SDH only.
I'm not a huge fan of Creepshow as an overall film, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate the effort made here, and hey – I even moderately enjoyed two of the five tales told. But regardless of how I feel about the actual film, there's no denying the 4K restoration here is well done, and Scream/Shout! Factory has once again done a fine job with the bonus materials, with enough new stuff to make this release Recommended.