An ongoing series looking at fantastic prologues from classic and contemporary horror movies.
In this ongoing SHOCK series, well take a look at some of the most astonishing opening scenes in genre film history. Weve already made a case for TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE, then we discussed the ultra-bloody pre-credits sequence for Stuart Gordons 1985 horror comedy RE-ANIMATOR. After that it was Juan Carlos Fresnadillos relentless 28 WEEKS LATER,
Now we’ll slide back down to 1982 to look at director George A. Romero’s CREEPSHOW.
Romero was reeling from the commercial indifference of his 1981 film KNIGHTRIDERS (an underrated film that may be one of George’s finest pictures) when he jumped immediately into this film, a loving homage to EC Comics penned by Stephen King, who adapted two of his own short stories to suit the spirit of TALES FROM THE CRYPT and fleshed out the rest from scratch. King was a Romero fan, especially after DAWN OF THE DEAD, and had appeared as an actor in KNIGHTRIDERS. Here, Romero surrendered screenwriting duties to King, in what would be his first – and finest – filmed script. The film was distributed widely by Warner Bros. and made a lovely stack of coin indeed.
Five tales of campy cruelty and gory revenge from beyond the grave make up the bulk of CREEPSHOW; “Father’s Day”, “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill” (in which King himself stars), “Something to Tide You Over”, “The Crate” and “They’re Creeping Up on You!”.
CREEPSHOW is a masterpiece. One of the greatest horror films ever made and a high point in both Romero and King’s careers.
It sets the playfully macabre and ghoulish pulp tone of the film to follow in its gleefully malevolent, pre-credits opening. In it, a brutish father (cult film hero Tom Atkins) screams at his stunned child (Joe King, son of Stephen and now known as revered writer Joe Hill), berating him for reading and EC-esque comicbook called, you guessed it, CREEPSHOW.
After hitting his son, who, by the look of his room, is a rabid monster kid, he confiscates the comic and settles smugly into his chair, his ineffectual wife (Iva Jean Saraceni) wringing her hands but unable to interject.
“That’s why God made fathers, babe…that’s why God made fathers…” he smarmily remarks.
Meanwhile, upstairs, Junior, cursing his bastard dad under his breath, is visited by a Cryptkeeper-inspired ghoul (designed by, as are all the staggering FX, the great Tom Savini) who cackles and beckons to the smiling lad…
The entire scene turns into a cartoon and then the credits begin…
It’s a lean, mean statement of an opening, a middle-finger to asshole dad’s everywhere who swallowed the whole “seduction of the innocent” clap-trap and murdered their children’s dark dreams.
It’s one of the greatest openings in horror film history.
Have a look…