6.25.2012

King's Highway pt. 14 Creepshow and Creepshow 2

Pt. 14! How far we've come, how far we have to go... Without further ado:

Cover art (to the comic book adaptation) by Jack Kamen. Interiors by Bernie Wrightson.
If I ever met Stephen King - say we were holed up in a town barn in East Axe-Killer, Maine, in-between all the snowplows, while the cops and Feds quarantined the area. Around us, other townsfolk complain and beat their chests at the armed guards. I want my attorney; I demand you respect the Rights of Man. Ain't nobody got time for that. Gotta' pass the time with chit-chat, and I think Mr. King agrees... - I'm pretty sure we could talk about nothing but EC Comics (and/or baseball) and pass the time fine. I've been a fan of EC in my own life for as long as he was, in his own, when he got together with George A. Romero to make this movie.

I mentioned Jack Kamen and Bernie Wrightson before. Both are masters in their field:

Not entirely representative of Jack Kamen's work; I encourage you to google-image-search him. His son Dean, by the way, invented the Segway, among other things.
This is from his adaptation of Frankenstein, but Berni Wrightson illustrated SK's Cycle of the Werewolf, i.e. what became the movie Silver Bullet.
More on EC in a bit, but real quick - I dislike "EC Comics" as a term; it's redundant. It's like when the cable guide lists "MLS Soccer." Really? Major League Soccer Soccer? Is this Jar-Jar world? An argument I lost somewhere in my teens, I think, with the world, but hey, if you can't bitch about such things in your blog, then that's a blog I don't want to write in...

Anyway, the movie:

I think I saw this - at least the Ted Dansen part - at Mike Simons' in Walldorf, Baden-W├╝rttemberg, 1985 or something. At the time - again, due to the Firestarter fiasco, which has turned out to be a lighthouse of navigating childhood memories and terror during this series - I was just moving out of a parental moratorium on R-rated films. But I didn't really sit down and watch it until a few years back, on the eve of heading back to Rhode Island after a vacation at Dawn's, back when we were interstate love banditos. There's a lot to recommend this movie - chiefly, the visual design,


which effectively transcribes the lurid four-color appeal of the EC Comics and keeps the stories from taking themselves too seriously - and the familiar faces are fun.

Some general impressions:

"Father's Day" - fun. A young Ed Harris, boogyin' down. And the veteran Jon Lormer as the dude who just wants his damn cake.

Any chance I have to reference "The Return of the Archons," I take.
"The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill" - This is as sweet an EC homage as you can get - it can very easily fit into any Weird Fantasy issue without breaking a sweat.

Meteorshit.
The imagined scenes at the college, especially, crack me up.

"Something to Tide You Over"and "The Crate" may go on a tad too long - and with the latter, we may take issue with some latent misogyny of King's early work, tho it's more the misogyny of the genre in general, 1950-1980, but more on this later/ elsewhere - but a) again, the familiar faces are great, and b) such perfect EC titles. I can easily picture either title over a splash page by Graham Ingels, Jack Davis, or Johnny Craig.

EC was the Discovery ID of its time, just in four-color comic book form.
An edit of "The Crate: I found on YouTube:


"They're Creeping Up On You" is perfectly self-explanatory.

Unfortunately,


doesn't quite follow up in heroic fashion. Despite a fun score from Rick Wakeman and lead billing for Lois "Moonraker" Chiles...

Looking at this picture makes me want to do a blog series about Bond movies... Maybe in 2030.
this one doesn't quite justify its existence/ all the trouble it must have been to make it.

SK tells a pretty good story about the publication of "The Raft" in the endnotes to Skeleton Crew, more or less just that the money for it arrived at a timely moment, and that he misplaced both the original manuscript (a world before floppy disks, a world before Word and the cloud and whatever else) and also the copy of Juggs or whatever "men's magazine" in which it was published it at the time.

Since everyone in the story is slugging or groping or punching one another, I kind of rooted for the oil slick monster.
"Old Chief Wood'nhead" has a little going for it, but ultimately, it's an acceptable Tales from the Darkside episode, not much more. Ditto for "The Hitch-Hiker." Nothing special. It should be mentioned - George Romero did not direct any of this, only wrote the screenplay "based on stories by SK." So, their involvement seems scant to say the least.

I will give Creepshow 2 some props for trying to introduce the EC staple - the master of ceremonies. (When and where did this tradition begin? Not sure.) But even Tom Savini, though, can not save the low-budget attempt offered here:

Come on! Plus - it's sad, I mean, the guy is driving around and delivering bundles of comic books to newsstands. He's like a haunted hunchbacked paperboy.
Similarly, the animation is not very good. Light years away from the inter-title sequences from the first one. And the sound for these sequences is really muddled.

When it comes to transcribing the feel of EC to the screen, Creepshow the first does the task quite well; Creepshow 2 is a pretty low-rent affair. The EC emcee comes across best in Tales from the Crypt. The Cryptkeeper as voiced by John Kassir:

Well, he looks like him to me, anyway.
(I understand there is a Creepshow 3 but the reviews are so uniformly loathsome I decided not to cover it.)

I kind of went overboard with pictures tonight, but so the cookie crumbles.

The Perry Mason theme just started on MeTV - that's my cue... Good night.

9 comments:

  1. I think it's worth noting that the Bernie Wrightson piece you posted above is from his illustrated version of Frankenstein. It's absolutely worth looking for. Wrightson's artwork helps liven up what I consider to be a deathly boring story. Well, it has its moments, but a little bit of the ineffectual protagonist goes an awfully long way. Anyway, Wrightson's work harkens back to the best of EC. Perhaps more accurately, it manages to evoke the kind of dread and revulsion that a lot of those old EC comics tried to evoke, but didn't often succeed in doing.

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    1. A true maestro, absolutely - http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Bernie+Wrightson+Art&FORM=RESTAB

      I liked Frankenstein last time I read it, but it's been awhile. I love with no reservations, tho, his illustrations for Frankenstein.

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    2. I need to get a copy of that Wrightson version of "Frankenstein"; been putting off doing so for years.

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  2. LOL! Big Boy is the Cryptkeeper and we sure were interstate love banditos! Fun read. I agree about the Haunted Hunchbacked Paperboy and the cool visual effects.

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  3. Man, I love "Creepshow." The music by John Harrison is maybe my favorite scary-movie score of all time, and that's merely one of the movie's many pleasures.

    I even kinda enjoy "Creepshow 2," although it is indeed a massive step down in quality. Bonus points for a Bond girl appearance. By the way, I'd like to take this moment to cordially invite you to MY James Bond blog, which I call You Only Blog Twice (which I will eventually finish, though God knows it doesn't seem to be happening any time soon.). It can be found here: http://you-only-blog-twice.blogspot.com/

    Have you ever heard the story that the "Tales from the Darkside" movie was initially intended to be "Creepshow 3"? Apparently this is true, and I can see the similarities. As for the ACTUAL "Creepshow 3," I've got a copy, but I've never watched it; since it has nothing whatsoever to do with Stephen King, I don't feel too bad about that.

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  4. Thanks for the link! Bond is another of my pop-cultural preoccupations, so I'm sure I'll get a lot of fun reading out of that.

    I had heard that about Creepshow 3/ Tales from the Darkside the Movie. It's too bad we never got another entry like that first Creepshow. That gets better every time I watch it. The score, the visual design, the stories, the performances, the EC homages, all of it = just pure entertainment.

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  5. By the way... I found a copy of Tales from the Darkside the Movie for $5 today... new blog a'coming!

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    1. That movie is probably worth $5.

      Probably...

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