HORROR MOVIE TRAILER COUNTDOWN: CREEPSHOW (3 OF 5)
Good GREIVE-NING, BOILS and GHOULS- ok, enough of that. Creepshow is one of my favorite scary movies. How could it not be? Written by Stephen King, directed by George Romero, makeup by Tom Savini- it’s catnip for horror junkies. its also an excellent example of why horror is particularly well-suited to the anthology film format. You don’t have to stretch a promising premise way past the breaking point to fill screen time or make a vague stab at plausibility (I’m looking at you, THE HAPPENING). Directors can indulge their weirdest impulses and writers can play out any absurd idea they like, simply because the individual segments don’t have to satisfy on their own. A movie like Creepshow can have sequences where a desiccated corpse makes a birthday cake out of his daughter’s head or a yeti in a box can eat a half-dozen innocent bystanders with no need to dawdle or explain. It can just keep moving, and if one sequence doesn’t work, no problem- on to the next one, and it has Leslie Nielsen in it. Score!
Enough about the movie though- we’re here to talk about an excellent trailer. CREEPSHOW positions itself well by explicitly paying homage to the EC horror comics of the 50s. What I especially admire about the CREEPSHOW trailer is how expertly it uses the grammar and imagery of those comics to draw in fans. Specifically, I think it riffs on the covers and the splash pages- the pages at the very front of the comic book, meant to lure kids into dropping their allowances on the horrors within. Check out this splash page from The Witches Cauldron:
Now watch the trailer again and keep an eye out for:
Shiny Flying Logo: EC logos were purposefully plastered all over their comics. They sat on covers and splash pages screaming at kids with eye-searing intensity. Above, we see the logo for The Witches Cauldron. In the trailer, one of the first images we see is the Creepshow logo, a clear homage to the original EC iconography.
Master of Scare-Emonies*: All of the EC tales of terror were kicked off by an introductory pun-filed monologue from a mascot ghoul. Up above, it’s the Old Witch from the Witch’s Cauldron. In the trailer, our copyright-friendly pal the Creepshow Creep welcomes us in with a promise to scare the bejeezus out of us with his own tales of terror.
Writer/Artist Combo: Creepshow puts it’s emphasis on it’s creative duo from the get-go. A brilliant horror writer and a visionary horror director teaming up to bring us some funny, spooky thrills. Romero isn’t a classically trained illustrator, but I’d argue he’s the artist who brought King’s work to life in Creepshow. So my metaphor stands, damn it.
"Jolting Tales of Terror in the EC Tradition": Seriously, this trailer packs in so many typical splash page/cover tropes it’s astonishing. The over-the-top ringmaster lingo, the disgustingly detailed ghouls and corpses, the shock panel colors and sound effects, and the puns- oh god, the puns. It’s so perfect it’s scary.*
What I really love about this trailer is that it issues a siren call to nerds like me who love weird old comics and horror movies in a subtle, skilled way. A lot of what I hate about mass media nerd culture these days is that it acts like making a reference is an accomplishment in and of itself, and that regardless of how insultingly stupid the context of that reference is I should be on board because I am a nerd, and nerds like those things. (I’m looking at you, acquaintances who keep talking to me about The Big Bang Theory.) Creepshow isn’t cynical or making references for references sake. It’s a love letter to a somewhat obscure horror tradition, and it’s awesome.
Real talk: if I opened a comic book and saw all this stuff in the front pages, I’d buy it. CREEPSHOW, you nailed it. Two severed thumbs up.*
Fun Fact: I met George Romero at a horror movie marathon when I was a teenager. Despite the fact that it was about 2am and he’d been shaking hands and signing things for three hours, he still chatted with me about Tales from the Crypt for a good ten minutes. He also gave me a hug because I seemed nervous and he’s a very nice man. Did I write this entire blog post so I could share this fun fact with you? Yes, yes I did.
Bonus Watch: Man, there are a lot of excellent horror anthologies out there!. The horror anthology is such an enduring format it’s easy to find unique twists on it. You love Asian horror? Check out THREE EXTREMES. Found footage junkie? V/H/S will scare the hell out of you. Hell, there was even one on MST3k! If you’re tired of horror movies, try the Merlin Chop Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders and see where I got the stupid name for this blog.
DAY 1: THE BIRDS
DAY 2: HOUSE
DAY 3: CREEPSHOW
DAY 4: ???
DAY 5: ???
*oh yeah, I went there.