Creepshow was, and still is, one of my favorite films of all time. The anthology format, the retro comic-styled transitions, the creepy-as-hell soundtrack, the all-star cast, the writing of Stephen King, the direction of George Romero.. It personifies everything about horror that we all love. Scares, fun, great stories, and some excellent blood and grue.
Beloved by many, Creepshow is a staple in horror fans collections. Personally, I own it on (almost) every format it was made available on; VHS, Videodisc, DVD and now Blu-Ray. I'm still looking for the BetaMax and Laserdisc, but that becomes difficult as I'm a sifter. I don't like collecting off E-bay, it kinda kills the thrill of the hunt. I used E-bay once for a VHS I had been on the hunt for years for, and there was no satisfaction in it, but that's a story for another time..
So, let's get started on some of the many facts about Creepshow I have picked up over the years, and maybe you'll be able to appreciate the film in a whole new way next time you see it!
The Traveling Ashtray
The ashtray that is famously used in "Fathers Day" to kill Nathan Grantham is seen throughout the film, numerous times. It appears somewhere in every segment of the film, if you pay attention.
There are two stories floating around about the ashtray. One being that it belonged to George Romero. Another being that the original script called for a glass ashtray (which it did) and the prop broke in transit on the way to set. A crew member was sent out to find a replacement, and found the cherub inspired tray at a five-and-dime store. Either way, Romero liked the piece so much, he decided to turn it into an easter egg for the film.
The movie begins with the "Prologue" story, which concerns a young boy, Billy, who is caught by his father (played by the always awesome Tom Atkins) reading a horror comic book called Creepshow. Papa Atkins is not a fan of horror comics, asking mom "Do you want him reading that stuff? That horror crap?" But the truth is that dad is a fan, in multiple ways. Tom Atkins himself has starred in many horror films, especially around that time. It's what he was known for. But Billy is played by Stephen Kings own son, Joe King.
Young Billy is better known by his name nowadays, Joe Hill. He, much like his father, has become a very successful horror writer. Having written Horns, Locke & Key, and is now writing the new Tales From The Darkside series. I think he has a promising future down the road his father ever so creepily carved.
Subfact: During this scene, Father Atkins becomes enraged when Billy claims his comic books are "not any worse than the books you keep in your dresser. Those ones under your underwear. Those sex books." This is a joke of Kings as well, who began his career writing for porno mags, and now writes horror.
The large roaches were Hissing roaches imported on a temporary permit for the filming. As a result of the temporary permit, they had to keep intricate records, counting every single roach before and after every shot, and accounting for those that died. The roaches were transported in Styrofoam cartons, and kept in a high carbon-dioxide environment so they would stay quiet. They also used raisins and almonds to fill spaces, in order to create the illusion of more roaches.
While we're on the subject, "The Hitchhiker" segment from Creepshow 2 was a back-up story, just in case "They're Creeping Up On You" proved to be too difficult to shoot. The original script called for Mr. Pratt to live in a very up-scale apartment, with thick shag carpeting, but it would have been impossible to work with the roaches in it, so Romero opted for the sterile apartment for ease.
Romeros cut of the film was 2 hrs 10 minutes. The studio forced him to trim it down to just under 2 hours. A "workprint" version of the film began circulating amongst VHS tape-traders, and was very poor quality. Although, it is one of the only ways to see any of the deleted scenes. The only time those scenes have been released, is on the Region 2 DVD release in 2007.
The deleted scenes included:
- A trip to the morgue in "Fathers Day" to identify Yarbrough's body, as well as a longer conversation about the familys sordid history
- Another fantasy by Jordy Verrill, this time going to the bank in "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill"
- "Something To Tide You Over" included longer conversations between Harry and Richard.
- "They're Creeping Up On You" has some minor alterations, including a difference sequence of events, although the final version makes more sense, as it now suggests Upson Pratt is being punished for the suicide of Norman Katsenmeyer.
- Other edits include minor shortening of some long shots, some blood, and dialogue edits, but nothing that was terribly missed
Some of the Deleted Scenes can be seen in the original trailer!
The Special Edition Region 2 DVD release was the first new transfer of the film, since it was originally released on Videodisc. Every subsequent US release of the film has been a re-formatted version of the Videodisc, with the same menus, features and transfer.. Lame, huh?
George Romero is famous for always wanting to shoot in and around the Pittsburgh area, and Creepshow was no exception. An all girls school served as the sets for "They're Creeping Up On You", "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill" and the "Prologue"/"Epilogue" segments. "The Crate" was filmed at Carnegie-Mellon University, of which Romero is an alumnus.
The backyard party sequence was shot in Romero's own backyard. At the time Romero lived on Amberson Drive, and named the fictional Amberson Hall in the University after it. "Fathers Day" was filmed in Fox Chapel, PA.
At the end of "The Lonesome Death Of Jordy Verrill" the sign post points to Castle Rock and Portland. Castle Rock is the fictional town where many of Kings' stories take place, and Portland is Kings' hometown.
Adrienne Barbeau, who was married to John Carpenter, starred in the segment "The Crate." The actual crate itself is stamped "SHIP TO HORLICKS UNIVERSITY VIA JULIA CARPENTER. ARCTIC EXPEDITION 1834."
At the time, John Carpenter was shooting his remake of "The Thing" which is about an Antarctic Expedition that comes across a creature that eventually kills all but two of the men, ending with the two sitting opposite each other, wondering if the creature may have somehow survived. "The Crate" also ends with the two surviving men sitting opposite each other, playing chess, discussing whether or not the creature may have survived.
They also snuck the Crate into an episode of The Walking Dead!
Two characters featured in the film, Tabitha and Richard (the new professors we meet during the party in "The Crate"), were named after Tabitha King (Stephen King's wife) and Richard Bachman (King's ghostwriting name).
The housekeeper in the "Father's Day" sequence is named Mrs.Danvers. The malevolent housekeeper in Alfred Hitchcock's suspense film Rebecca, is also named Mrs. Danvers.
The music playing on Upson Pratt's jukebox at the beginning of "They're Creeping Up On You" is the same instrumental that plays over the end credits of "The Evil Dead."
In 2009, an unofficial spin-off web series went into production called "Creepshow Raw." Titled "Insomnia", directed by Wilmer Valderrama, and starring Michael Madsen, the first episode was 8 minutes long, and kept in theme with the comic book inspired transitions. While the episode may have gotten a positive response from many fans, it didn't pick up enough steam to continue on, and this single episode is all that was ever completed.