In the history of horror, few projects have been made in the same vein as the 1982 anthology classic Creepshow, which really should have set a template that horror directors could still be building off of today. This all-killer-no-filler anthology chiller was brought about by a collaboration between horror novel legend Stephen King and indie-horror favorite George A. Romero. The film was inspired by the E.C. horror comics of the 1950s -- bright and colorful pulpy stories filled to the brim with fog, monsters, zombies, and ghouls. King and Romero bonded over their love for these comics, and the movie proves their passion is contagious. Creepshow is a blast, with each individual story within the film being so good that they are able to stand on their own. But together they create a fun, horror experience that somehow ends up feeling even greater than the sum of its impressive parts. This begs the question: Why don't more creative minds who are masters in their fields and/or genres come together and make projects together more often? If Creepshow is any indication, it's a foolproof plan for success!
The Road to 'Creepshow'
Before King and Romero joined forces, they had built up their own individual killer resumes within different art forms. By 1982, Romero had a number of horror film directing credits to his name, including Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Martin, The Crazies, and more. He might not exactly have invented the zombie genre, as there had already been films like White Zombie and I Walked with a Zombie, but he definitely popularized it and laid out the blueprint for what it has become today. By the time the '80s arrived, Romero was a long-established horror legend. As for King, he had only become recently established within the world of literature. The 70s were kind to ol' Steve, with back-to-back bestsellers like Carrie, 'Salems Lot, The Shining, The Stand, and The Dead Zone hitting shelves between the years of 1974 and 1979. The man might have only really been in the horror consciousness for eight years by the time Creepshow came around, but with his novelistic onslaught being so powerful in the second half of the '70s, nobody could doubt that he was the reigning king of horror.
With Creepshow, these two titans of terror combined their powers to create a super-fun horror comedy that doesn't just prey on your fears, it also aims for your funny bone. The King/Romero team-up has a goofy and self-aware tone that might feel unexpected at first, but both figures' previous efforts had satirical notes sprinkled throughout. A straight-up horror comedy felt like the next logical step in their respective careers. It's also just the sort of tone that you would expect when two friends spearhead a project together, especially one based upon the stories that inspired them as children. Creepshow is the kind of movie that, while watching each segment, you can imagine King and Romero laughing in a room at the absurd nature of what they were coming up with. You feel like you're a part of the fun. King and Romero's minimal contributions to the sequel, Creepshow 2, are evident. (Though both were involved and Romero wrote the script, the film had a new director.) The secret sauce to what made the original film so great was their passionate and collaborative spirit behind it, not just their story ideas.
'Creepshow's Wrap-Around Story Makes It Stand Out
While the film's individual parts are packaged all together, they also work like gangbusters on their own. The film's stories are tied together with the wrap-around story of Billy Hopkins (King's son Joe, who you now know better as writer Joe Hill), a kid who is disciplined by his dad (genre favorite Tom Atkins) for reading a Creepshow comic book. His dad throws his comic book away and sends him up to his room, where he comes across the Creep, the series' flagship monster. The Creep retrieves Billy's comic, Billy begins reading, and the film takes off into its many stories. From here, we witness tales of a despicable father-turned-zombie, a dull farmer whose land is overtaken by an alien plant, a vengeful husband (a menacing Leslie Nielsen playing against type), a bloodthirsty beast stowed away in a crate, and a whole lot of cockroaches. These segments range from eerie ("Something to Tide You Over") to the perfect encapsulation of comic-book horror, ("Father's Day"). It's a wonderful serving platter of various tones, but if you want just a little taste of what this anthology has to offer, the perfect medium is "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill." That's the one that is equal parts funny, disturbing, and entertaining due to over-the-top performance from King himself as the titular Jordy Verrill.
Watching Creepshow will leave anyone and everyone wondering why projects like this don't come about more often, though it's not as though they never happen. Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez have worked on a multitude of projects together. Their first massive collaboration together was for 1996's From Dusk til Dawn, an action horror vampire film that feels like the perfect bridge between Tarantino's 90s writing sensibilities and Rodriguez's run-and-gun action touch. As if that movie didn't rock enough, they went on in 2007 to direct their own individual films Planet Terror and Death Proof, then combine them together for the double feature extravaganza -- 2007's Grindhouse. Both Dusk and Grindhouse are a couple of absolute rippers, films where you can feel the filmmakers' passions for exploitation movies and, even more so, their friendship, all bleeding out onto the screen. It's a perfect example of two juggernauts in their field coming together to create something special.
With Creepshow rocking as hard as it does, it's a bit dumbfounding why more creative forces don't band together in the same way. Imagine a film from the joint forces of Ari Aster and Robert Eggers! How could that be bad? Let's not forget Steven Spielberg and George Lucas teaming up to make one of the greatest action films of all time, Raiders of the Lost Ark. This is easy, Hollywood! This lowers the pressure for the individual filmmakers and lets everybody making the film cut a rug. These movies always reek of a good time for the forces behind the scenes, so why not have a little bit more fun and collaborate more from the ground up, storytellers? You'll benefit and the audience will benefit, so everyone wins! Let's hope that more will begin following in the template that King and Romero set back in 1982 with their horror comedy anthology classic, Creepshow.