Thursday, October 01, 2009

Scott takes in a double feature of CREEPSHOW and THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD!

I can’t think of a more appropriate film to kick off our month long tribute to horror films then CREEPSHOW. I was 14 when CREEPSHOW first crept into theatres in 1982. I didn’t realize it at the time but this film was a perfect transition for someone whose primary horror film diet had been Universal Horror films with the occasional Hammer horror flick thrown in. Up to that point in 1982 the only other George Romero film I had seen was NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. That film got under my adolescent skin like few others. So going to see a film directed by Romero and penned by Stephen King was a brave move for a teenage kid in 1982. I also must admit that the comic book angle the film employs was very appealing to me. It became one of my favorite films and I watched it countless times throughout the eighties.

CREEPSHOW is a film done in the style of a 50’s comic book but with very adult themes and language. Five stories are presented within the film as well as a prologue and epilogue.

I was looking forward to watching CREEPSHOW after not seeing the film in quite some time. Adding to the excitement was the recently purchased Blu-ray of CREEPSHOW that I’ve been dying to take for a spin. I had forgotten just how much fun this movie really is! Yes, this flick contains ghouls and monsters that might get some 21 century eyes rolling but this film also still has some genuine scares that still work in 2009. The film has a great cast of character actors that includes Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, Fritz Weaver, Leslie Nielsen and E.G. Marshall.

Throw away that old snapper case DVD! Newly released on Blu-ray, the film has never looked better on home video. Considering that the DVD is almost 10 years old and that the widescreen version was cropped from the full screen version (!) the upgrade is well worth it. More extras would have been sublime. Alas, the blu-ray, like the region 1 DVD before it, contains only the films theatrical trailer. The region 2 DVD, released in the United Kingdom is 2007, is reportedly jam packed with extras. Alas, the Blu-ray is the best way to go transfer wise here in the states.

I followed my screening of CREEPSHOW with a film that might have helped inspire it.

During the 60’s and 70’s, a small British studio tried to give Hammer studios a run for its money. This studio, Amicus, specialized in horror anthologies. One of these was THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD.

The film contains four segments that all center on one house. An inspector from Scotland Yard is investigating the disappearance of a film star who had recently rented the house. As he investigates, he is told of the house’s history and that’s how we are introduced to each tale. The film is more psychological than CREEPSHOW, with twist endings to each story that’s not far removed from TWILIGHT ZONE or better yet NIGHT GALLERY. The film has some genuinely creepy moments. It’s also drips with satire. More than once, the filmmakers wink at you, letting you know that this is only a movie. (At one point a character reminisces about how he misses the "old, great" horror movies, and mentions Dracula. He then adds: "the one with Bela Lugosi of course, not this new fellow," obviously referring to Christopher Lee, who is also in the film. Also, a wax figure of Christopher Lee as Dracula menacing a young lady is briefly seen.)

This film has a great cast that includes Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Denholm Elliott, Jon Pertwee and Ingrid Pitt. The screenplay is by Robert Bloch, who also wrote the original PSYCHO novel.

The DVD released via Lions Gate looks great for a film of this vintage. It's anamorphic for proper display on 16 x 9 widescreen televisions. Curiously, there is no mention on the DVD case that this is an Amicus release.

This is a double feature that was really a lot of fun. Amicus also did a film a few years later called TALES FROM THE CRYPT. Come to think of it, that film might be a better match with CREEPSHOW. Whatever you decide, remember to turn the lights out…

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