In case you’ve been living under a rock, Creepshow is getting a TV-style series for Shudder. In fact, some news articles indicate that it’s already begun filming, and it’s all being managed by Greg Nicotero. Considering that he’s done well over at The Walking Dead and firmly has links to George A. Romero, there’s reason to have some confidence in the project. So I’ve decided to quickly revisit the original film, to remember what’s so great about this tragicomedy horror master work.
I have written about George A. Romero’s Creepshow before a few times, so it’s almost awkward to write about it again. Nevertheless, it’s a film that has a lot to offer, despite containing somewhat straightforward, maybe even simple stories. In fact, that’s part of its original charm. I don’t know if I’d call the stories “crap,” the way Tom Atkins’ character does in the film. However, I’d say they’re the kinds of stories normal, responsible adults wouldn’t recommend. It intentionally comes closer to junk food than art, and it doesn’t inflate itself with high moral platitudes and needless grandstanding (though that can have its place).
The film often has a bitter tone, though, which reminds us a bit of what horror is about. While it can be zany and outlandish, it tends to deal with harsh realities and cruel fate. For example, Bedelia Grantham (Viveca Lindfors) is obviously a very unhappy character. In fact, so is Jordy Verrill (Stephen King). Harry Wentworth (Ted Danson) has puit himself in a precarious situation, and Richard Vickers (Leslie Nielsen) is a miserable, petty, sadistic and controlling man. Upson Pratt (E. G. Marshall) seems to screw people over every minute of his life. And don’t even get me started on “Billie” (Adrienne Barbeau) and Henry Northup (Hal Holbrook)! Basically, the only happy character on Creepshow is the Crate Beast, known as Fluffy (Darryl Ferrucci).
In case you haven’t noticed, this tone already makes the film deeper than you might originally think. So, let that be a lesson is storytelling: Almost every story worth telling has some inherent conflict in it. Hell, few of them will have purely happy endings, as life rarely ever works out like that. In fact, even an ideal life inevitably ends with a tombstone, or at least some scattered ashes, or something deathly. In a way, then, Creepshow does a great job of keeping it real, even though the stories are far out in fantasy-land. This is actually why the film works, apart from being done pretty well technically.
While some aspects of Creepshow are inevitably better than others, it’s obviously a framework that people are revisiting now, and it may not even be just to cash in on the Creepshow label. It may be at least partly as a love letter to this style of horror. If the series is not a success, it will surely be for three possible reasons: (1) The show runners won’t be committed enough to the premise (which seems unlikely); (2) It won’t be promoted well enough; (3) Audiences just don’t appreciate this style of horror anymore. I hope none of these things are true, and that the new series will be awesome and successful. I also hope it’s genuinely creepy and not watered down with comfortable outcomes. No one deserves a Creepshow that’s ashamed to tell brutal, bitter and funny horror stories.
What are your thoughts on Creepshow? Let us know in the comments!