You know what time it is! It’s another post discussing another film and for this, I decided to go back in time. If you came from tumblr and the entire shotsofhorror blog over there, you might recognize the captures used from there. I have saved EVERY single capture I’ve edited (and some never posted) and I went to the very first post which is Creepshow.
And that’s what we’ll be talking about today. I’m excited!
Dir.: George A. Romero
Producer: Richard P. Rubenstein
Writer(s): George A. Romero, Stephen King
Company: Laurel Entertainment, Warner Bros. Studios
Starring: Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, Fritz Weaver, Stephen King, Tom Atkins (uncredited), Ted Danson, Leslie Nielsen, E.G. Marshall.
Creepshow is a tribute and throwback to classic comics such as EC Comics and DC. And unlike our previous discussion about House, this movie (and its sequel, Creepshow 2) uses the comic art and color to its advantage.
*L to R: Sex Anyone, 1964; Robert Indiana. Big Campbell’s Soup Can, 1962; Andy Warhol. Forget It! Forget Me!, 1962; Roy Lichtenstein.
When you think of comics, at least for me, I think of bold, in your face, full of color OR the lack of color but it isn’t drowning in saturation. I also think of the Pop Art movement in the 1950s. Though it really hit its peak during the 1960s to be honest. The greats of Pop Art include Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Indiana, Robert Rauschenberg, just to name a few, I think both have had huge influences on each other. In the 1980s, Pop Art itself was still popular thanks to the works of Keith Haring and Yayoi Kusama.
Despite comics popularizing around since the 1930s, the later decades is really when comics started to evolve into what we know comics are today. We should also mention the actual inspiration of Creepshow from both EC Comics (Tales from the Crypt, MAD) and DC Comics (home of publishing Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Watchmen, V for Vendetta). In 2004, Bravo had a mini series entitled “100 Scariest Movie Moments” and within that series, director George A. Romero, Stephen King and special effects artist Tom Savini talked about Creepshow’s inspiration which is “horror comics from the ’50s” and using fears as metaphors, social or political issues that come to life for the character.
Spoiler alert: Creepshow is only at #99 and the entire series is broken down into parts on Youtube.
This film consists of five stories, really six if you include the prologue and epilogue as one and each one does something really cool with transitioning real life captures into a comic strip or vice versa. From the opening credits alone, it sets the tone for the movie that this is going to be very bold with its use of color and lighting. And by lighting, we’re talking neon colors of reds, purples, blues, some greens.
The lights are just to further enhance the visuals of what we’re seeing. When we see the fullness of the creature from “The Crate” (image above), it isn’t hidden in the dark, it’s being bathed in neon lighting of red and purple. Also consider the “emotions” that color is associated with. Reds are indicated for passion, anger, danger, power. Purple is mostly associated with royalty but here, it’s mystery and magical. Pink is delicate throughout “Father’s Day”, blue is significant during “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verril” and “Something to Tide You Over” with its references of sea, the sky, a “masculine” color of seriousness. “They’re Creeping Up on You” uses a background of just white. It’s the color of ‘perfection’ which is exactly represents the main antagonist of the story.
Creepshow isn’t just a movie that is taking the elements of comic books and turning it into a “here are the comic strips, make something out of it”. Instead it is a love letter to the industry of comic art. It’s a love letter to the Pop Art movement.
Another film that is an honorable mention until it gets its own post is Repo! The Genetic Opera, which also uses comic in a similar way as Creepshow. If you also like musicals and rock operas, that movie is for you.
Run time: 120 mins (Original Workprint) (USA)
Sound Mix: Dolby Stereo
Color: Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio 1.85 : 1
Camera: Arriflex 35 BL
Laboratory: WRS Laboratories, Pittsburgh (PA), USA Technicolor, Hollywood (CA), USA (prints)
Negative Format: 35 mm
Cinematographic Process: Spherical
Printed Film Format: 35 mm