Welcome, horrorlings, to another spooktacular entry from The Longbox of Darkness. Today, we’re delving into the murky world of “Creepshow,” a groundbreaking horror venture that started its life as a film before shape-shifting into an unforgettable comic.
You might be familiar with Stephen King, the ‘King of Horror,’ who is known for turning mundane everyday life into your worst nightmares? Yeah, that guy made us all suspicious of pet cemeteries and wary of clown-infested drains. And then, there’s Bernie Wrightson, the maestro of macabre illustrations, a man whose artwork could probably make even a daisy look dreadful. Together, they embraced the chilling charm of “Creepshow” and gave horror fans like us a thrilling experience that straddles the film and comic realms.
“Creepshow” has left an indelible mark on the horror genre – it’s like a drop of red wine on a white tablecloth, but way more delightful and, let’s face it, far less annoying to clean up. It’s the perfect mashup of a classic horror film and a hair-raising comic, a creative collaboration that brings the best of both worlds to us horror fans.
So, buckle up, fright-addicts. Whether you’re a die-hard acolyte of “Creepshow” or a curious newbie, our exploration into this masterpiece is going to be one hell of a creepy ride.
Part 1: The Film – King and Romero
Let’s step into our time machine and transport ourselves back to 1982 when movies like John Carpenter’s The Thing and Ridley Scott’s Alien had shaken the horror landscape to its core. Fans were left wondering what else could be done with the genre. Well, they were in for a treat because horror was about to take yet another exciting turn. Cue the advent of the horror anthology!
“Creepshow,” the cinematic brainchild of two titans of terror: the word wizard, Stephen King, and the sultan of scares, George A. Romero, was, in all honesty, not the first horror anthology film, but it was the most successful. The British film production company Amicus had found moderate success with this format ten years earlier with their Portmanteau Films such as Doctor Terror’s House of Horrors, Asylum, and Tales From The Crypt (based on the EC Comic of the same name, which vaguely links it to King and Romero’s concept, as you’ll see below), but it did not ignite a surge of imitators like “Creepshow” did.
In essence, “Creepshow” was a patchwork quilt of nightmares, stitched together with King’s storytelling prowess and Romero’s knack for the visually unnerving. The film presents us with five short stories, each one a love letter to the EC horror comics of the 1950s. You know, those deliciously terrifying tales that were the talk of the playground until they were deemed ‘too horrifying’ for innocent young minds? Ah, good times!
Here are a few stills from the film:
The stories King conjures in “Creepshow” are pure horror gold, spun with his trademark mix of ordinary life and extraordinary fear. It’s like a buffet of fears, with King and Romero ensuring every dish is more terrifying than the last. Here they are, briefly summarized:
- “Father’s Day”: In this tale, the mean-spirited and domineering patriarch, Nathan Grantham, comes back from the dead to revenge himself on his daughter, who killed him on Father’s Day for his abusive parenting skills. A young Ed Harris plays the character of Hank Blaine in this.
- “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill”: This story tells the tale of a dim-witted farmer named Jordy Verrill, who encounters a meteorite that causes everything it touches to grow uncontrollable plant life, eventually leading to his own tragic end. Stephen King himself acts in this tale, and delivers a dreadful performance as Jordy Verrill, but hey, I idolize the guy, so essentially he can do no wrong.
- “Something to Tide You Over”: In this story, a vengeful husband named Richard buries his wife and her lover up to their necks at the beach to drown in the rising tide as punishment for their infidelity. But they return as waterlogged zombies seeking revenge. Ted Danson plays a hapless victim, while comedy star Leslie Nielsen plays Richard Vickers, and boy, does he deliver a sinister performance.
- “The Crate”: A janitor discovers an old shipping crate under the stairs of a college. A professor and his friend open it to find a hungry creature inside. The professor sees this as an opportunity to eliminate his annoying and overbearing wife. Hal Holbrook plays the character of Henry Northrup in this, and scream queen & horror goddess Adrienne Barbeau plays Billie.
- “They’re Creeping Up On You”: Upson Pratt is a cruel businessman with a severe phobia of bugs. After a citywide blackout, his high-tech, bug-proof apartment is overrun by roaches, leading to his horrifying demise. E.G. Marshall delivers a quirky performance as Upson Pratt, a character who is very aptly named by King.
These stories each represent a different kind of horror, ranging from the supernatural to psychological, with a dash of dark humor that has become a trademark of Stephen King’s works. The star-studded cast brings these tales to life and enhances their impact.
And let’s not forget about the film’s subsequent influence. “Creepshow” successfully reignited interest in horror anthology films, inspiring a surge of similar productions. But more than that, it served as a heartfelt homage to the classic EC Comics, bringing their spirit to life for a whole new generation. It was as if King and Romero said, “You miss those comics? Here, hold my beer.”
So, the film “Creepshow” was a resounding success, a horror fan’s dream come true. But our story doesn’t end here. This beautiful nightmare was about to crawl its way out of the silver screen and onto the colorful pages of a comic book.
Part 2: The Comic Book – King and Wrightson
Fresh off the heels of the successful “Creepshow” film, King and Romero decided to push the envelope a little further. They thought, why not let the fans literally hold the terror in their hands? And so, the “Creepshow” comic book was born. The transition from film to comic isn’t a common one, but then again, there’s nothing common about King, Romero, and their dedication to the macabre.
Adapting a film into a comic book script is a little like trying to squeeze a round peg into a square hole – it’s not the most natural fit. However, King, ever the wordsmith, managed to translate the cinematic narratives into the comic book format with relative ease. It was like watching a musician effortlessly switch instruments mid-concert. A violin to a saxophone, anyone? King’s got you covered!
The comic adaptation offered an exciting new way for fans to experience the terror of “Creepshow.” The static panels could not replicate the motion of the film, of course. The comic, however, had its own unique strength: it could let the terror linger. Each terrifying moment was frozen in time, allowing the readers to savor the scares at their own pace. It was like a haunted house tour where you could stop and admire each spine-chilling scene. Not that you’d necessarily want to, but hey, horror fans are a weird bunch, aren’t we?
The decision to transform “Creepshow” from a film into a comic book was a gamble, like betting on a three-legged racehorse. But, lo and behold, it paid off, proving that in the world of horror, the unusual, unexpected, and downright bizarre often reign supreme. The comic book ended up not just as a replica of the film but as a unique creation in its own right. And in the hands of Bernie Wrightson, “Creepshow” was about to become a beautiful, nightmarish art piece.
Part 3: The Art – Bernie Wrightson
And now, let’s flip the pages and dive right into the art-filled abyss of the “Creepshow” comic, where Bernie Wrightson’s artistry takes center stage. This man, this wizard with a pen, had the power to send shivers down your spine with a single stroke. Wrightson, already a celebrated figure in the horror comics world, was a natural choice to bring King’s tales of terror to the comic canvas. If King and Romero were the architects of “Creepshow”, Wrightson was the builder bringing their blueprint to life.
Wrightson’s artwork in the comic book is like a rollercoaster ride in a haunted theme park. It’s detailed, expressive, and hauntingly beautiful, and it elevates King’s narratives to a whole new level. His illustrations breathe life (and death, and even undeath) into the stories, adding a layer of dread that sticks with you long after you’ve closed the book.
Look, for example, at how Wrightson plays with shadows in “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill.” Each panel is draped in an atmospheric darkness that feels almost suffocating. It’s as though you can sense Jordy’s growing despair and impending doom. And don’t get me started on the horrifying detail in “The Crate.” You can almost feel the cold, splintery wood of the crate and the monstrous creature lurking within.
And then there’s the color work in the comic. It’s bold and contrasting, creating a delicious tension between the ordinary and the horrific. Bright and vibrant in one panel, it switches to ominous and grim in the next, reflecting the jarring twists in the stories. It’s like a visual symphony, with each note hitting the right chord of terror.
It’s safe to say that without Bernie, this comic wouldn’t be the masterpiece that it is.
Part 4: The Legacy of “Creepshow”
As we near the end of our eerie expedition, it’s time to reflect on the lasting impression “Creepshow” has left on the landscape of horror. Like a bloodstain on a white carpet, or a spider lurking in your shoe, the influence of “Creepshow” is impossible to ignore and, for many, a surprise waiting to be discovered.
From the silver screen to the colorful pages, “Creepshow” proved that horror could seamlessly transition across mediums while retaining its core, horrifying heart. It also set a precedent for future multimedia horror projects, showcasing the potential that lay in cross-pollinating different forms of media. The influence of “Creepshow” has seeped into numerous comics, films, and even television shows, which you can see if you dare to peek under the right gravestones.
Take, for example, the “Creepshow” television series. It’s a nostalgia trip and a thrilling horror ride all in one. Much like its predecessors, it too is a testament to the power of anthology storytelling, echoing the heart and soul of the original “Creepshow” film and comic. The series acknowledges its roots but also expands the “Creepshow” universe, delivering fresh scares while echoing familiar frights. It’s a lot like meeting an old friend… who just so happens to have a few skeletons in the closet. But we’ll talk more about this in a future post.*
*That’s right; The Longbox of Darkness will do a full episode-by-episode rundown of the Creepshow TV series in the weeks to come, so keep those peepers peeled.
Despite the decades that have passed, “Creepshow” continues to resonate with horror fans around the globe. And why wouldn’t it? It’s a powerful blend of compelling storytelling and evocative artwork, making it as much a treat for the eyes as it is a chill for the spine. It’s an enduring love letter to the genre, a reminder of why we horror fans enjoy having the wits scared out of us.
And that wraps up our journey through the spine-chilling world of “Creepshow.” If this trip down terror lane has sparked a newfound interest, or if it has rekindled an old flame, why not dive deeper into the horror universe? Watch or rewatch the “Creepshow” film, or better yet, get your hands on the comic book and let the terror unfurl with each page flip. Trust me; the nightmares are worth it. And don’t forget to check out the “Creepshow” TV series. It’s a scream-a-minute ride you won’t want to miss.
While you’re at it, why not share your own thoughts on “Creepshow?” Did it make your blood curdle or make you laugh in the face of fear? Either way, let’s get a conversation going in the comments below.
If you’ve enjoyed this exploration of “Creepshow,” don’t forget to hit the “like” button and share this post with your fellow horror buffs. As they say, misery loves company, right? Also, check out an old episode of The Longbox of Darkness Podcast, where we covered the ‘Creepshow’ comic. And remember to subscribe to this blog for more deep dives into the realms of the eerie, the unnerving, and the terrifying.
Until next time, stay scary!
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