Tag Archives: George A Romero

Creepshow: The Whole Bloody And Macabre Saga Part I

Now I hadn’t actually planned on doing this article at all. I’ve been busy writing my multiple Halloween articles for this year as well as other writing projects I’m currently busy with too. But a few weeks back, I learned there was a Creepshow TV series and I watched it and… well I’ll get to that later.

Anyway, as I watched the TV show, it occurred to me that I’ve never really covered Creepshow on this blog. It’s has a few passing mentions here and there. But never really looked at the film(s) in detail. As I continued to watch the weekly episodic show, I realised that by the time it ends, it would be Halloween, the final episode airs tonight on the 31st of October (nice timing). Then I thought that maybe I could squeeze in a viewing of all the Creepshow films a long with the TV show and do a big ole’ Creepshow retrospective.

So here it is, my look at Creepshow… all of it. After a quick intro…

Okay, so I love Creepshow… the first film anyway. I’m a sucker for anthology story telling and have written a few short stories myself (find them on Amazon, search S. L. Perrin). For me, Creepshow is the finest of the horror anthology films. The success of the movie meant a sequel was a certainty and the Creepshow franchise was born. While not a huge franchise, Creepshow has a strong and loyal fanbase even now almost four decades since the original film was released back in 1982. Taking inspiration from the old 1950s EC Comics, the films tell multiple horror themed tales of terror with just the right amount of very dark humour. And with that, it’s time to take a look at every single story in the Creepshow franchise from all the movies and right up to the recent TV show as I offer my view on each of them. This is going to be a big one.

A guess a quick SPOILER warning before I start as most of the tales told in the films and TV show normally have some kind of stinger ending, though I’ll avoid going into too much detail for the stories and won’t give away the endings, but I’ll still offer a mild SPOILER warning just in case.

Creepshow

Creepshow Poster

Released in 1982 and bringing together three of the best names in horror cinema of the era. Directed by George A. Romero, written by Stephen King (based on his short stories and he also wrote the screenplay) and with make up effects by Tom Savini, the holy trinity of 70s and 80s horror at the very top of their game. Creepshow features five stories… well six with the wrap around prologue and epilogue. Each story is presented in a comic book style and often use filters, and strange lighting effects to give it a real comic book feel.

Prologue

Billy (Joe King, Stephen’s son) loves comic books, particularly horror ones. When his father (Tom Atkins) discovers Billy reading his latest comic, Creepshow, he comes down hard on his son as he doesn’t want him reading that “crap” as he calls it and throws the comic out in the rubbish. Billy is sent to his room where he wishes his father rots in hell. Just then, the skeletal The Creep from the cover of Billy’s comic comes knocking on his bedroom window…

Father’s Day

The first story of Creepshow tells the tale of a cantankerous old patriarch of a rich family called Nathan (Jon Lormer). The family gather for a dinner to remember their father who died some years previously. His eldest daughter, Bedelia (Viveca Lindfors) is running late and stops off at the cemetery to have a heart to heart with her long deceased and abusive father and a bottle of whiskey. As the story unfolds, it’s revealed that it was Bedelia who killed her own father, Nathan after years of incessant demands and emotional abuse and after he killed Bedelia’s lover in an ‘accident’. It was during Father’s Day and after Nathan kept bullying and bugging Bedelia for a Father’s Day cake when she finally snapped and bludgeoned her own father to death with a marble ashtray (quick bit of trivia, the ashtray appears in all five stories and the wrap around). As Bedelia has it out with her dead father at his grave, finally letting him know how his abuse and death of her lover affected her she spills the bottle of whiskey onto his final resting place. The whiskey (for some reason) brings Nathan back from the dead and he sets out to get that Father’s Day cake he’s been craving for so long.

Creepshow Father's Day

This is a great opener and really sets the tone for what Creepshow is. It’s scary but jet black funny too. Father’s Day is everything a Creepshow story should be and it’s one of the best stories in the entire franchise. Be on the lookout for a then unknown Ed Harris and his ‘dancing’. It also has some very moody and atmospheric cinematography, especially in and around the graveyard.

The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill

Jordy (Stephen King) is a redneck, backwoods yokel who sees a meteorite crash down in his backyard. Thinking the discovery will bring him riches… well at least $200 to pay off a bank loan, he tries to pick up the meteorite but it’s too hot to touch. So Jordy decides to throw a bucket of water over the space debris to cool it down… only this just makes it crack and break open. Rendering his get rich quick (well $200) scheme redundant. However, his touching the meteor makes an organic, plant-like substance slowly grow on his fingers where he made contact with the space rock. After a while, the plant-thing spreads and grows on everything Jordy has touched. His house becomes overgrown with the stuff as does his body. It begins to itch and agitate to a point where Jordy thinks the best thing to do is take a bath… but water just makes things even worse…

Creepshow The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill.gif

When I was younger, I hated this story and always felt it was the worst of the (at that point) two films, but over the years it has grown on me (pun very much intended). I’ve grown to really appreciate Stephen King’s goofy acting and think he does a fantastic job. Considering that aside from a couple of very minor characters, he carries the whole story and is a joy to watch. It’s much more comical than the other stories in the film and works well as a bit if comic relief.

Something to Tide You Over

Richard Vickers (Leslie Nielsen) is a man who seems to have everything, money, property (he owns a beach), a nice house and a beautiful wife… oh and he’s also a very sick psychopath. When he learns that his wife has been having an affair with a younger man called Harry (Ted Danson), Richard pays the man a visit and manages to convince his wife’s lover to join him on his beach so they can ‘talk’ about this affair. On the beach, Richard has pre-dug a hole and persuades Harry, with the help of a gun, to get into it telling him he just wants to incapacitate him. With Harry in the hole, Richard begins to fill it up, burying Harry up to his neck. Richard then reveals he had already done the same to his wife earlier in the day further down the beach. He also says that as the tide is coming in, if Harry holds his breath then maybe the sea will loosen the sand he could break free… maybe. Richard sets up CCTV so he can watch his nefarious plan live as Harry slowly drowns and joins his lover, Richard’s wife who he had already drowned the same way earlier that day. The next day and Richard returns to the scene of his crime but no Harry or wifey, the tide must have pulled them out. At least that is what Richard thinks happened.

Creepshow Something to Tide You Over.jpg

I love this story, best in the film for me. Leslie Nielsen is a pure joy to watch as the sick and twisted Richard Vickers. Everyone always remembers Nielsen for his comedic roles, Police Squad/The Naked Gun, Airplane!, etc. But for me, this is the role I’ll always remember him for. It also features some really amazing make-up effects by Tom Savini.

The Crate

When a college janitor discovers a mysterious crate under the stairs from an Arctic expedition, he calls Dexter Stanley (Fritz Weaver), one of the college’s professors to come an investigate. The pair pull the crate out and attempt to open it. Inside is a Yeti-like vicious creature that attacks and kills the janitor. Dexter escapes and flees the scene to tell his friend and colleague Professor Henry Northrup (Hal Holbrook) all about the monster and killing. Henry is married an overbearing wife Billie (Adrienne Barbeau) who ruins all his fun, she is obnoxious, emotionally abusive and always drunk. Henry comes up with a plan to rid himself of his wife, with a little help form the killer creature in the crate.

Creepshow The Crate

This one is pure Creepshow. While not my favourite of the five stories, it does come in at a very, very close second place. It’s bloody, brutal and still darkly funny to boot. Adrienne Barbeau is devilishly enjoyable to watch as the horrible wife and Henry’s fantasies of killing her are both funny and disturbing. Then of course there is the main star of the story… ‘Fluffy’, the creature in the crate. A horrible little bastard but somehow, still leaves you wanting to see more.

They’re Creeping Up on You

The fifth and final story of the film… not including the epilogue. This one is about a rich and ruthless businessman, Upson Pratt (E. G. Marshall) who suffers from mysophobia (an irrational fear of germs). He locks himself away in his hermetically sealed apartment controlled by a computer. His doors use electronic locks and he only really sees the outside world via CCTV, with contact only made via telephone or his intercom service. A severe storm knocks out the power in the city and eventually a blackout hits his tower block. His computer goes haywire and seems to have a problem with bugs… literally. He notices a cockroach, something that strikes fear into Upson, but one little bug is no problem. Soon, the cockroaches multiply and his germ-free, high cost apartment is suddenly overrun by the insects. Upson locks himself away in his seemingly bug free panic room, which perhaps was not the best idea.

Creepshow They're Creeping Up on You

There is no such thing as bad story in Creepshow… but this is the weakest of the lot. It’s a creepy story alright, but it just seems to lack the punch the others had. I didn’t find this one particularly scary or funny in that macabre way that Creepshow does so well. It just feels like a bit of a weak way to end. But E. G. Marshall as Upson Pratt is a joy to watch, the best thing about this tale.

Epilogue

It’s now the morning after poor Billy was sent to his room by his father for reading the Creepshow comic. A coupe of binmen are emptying the bins on the street when they discover the thrown out comic and begin to look through it. They find a few ads in the comic for gag props, x-ray specs, that kind of thing. They learn that a postal order for a voodoo doll has already been cut out and presumably send away for. Back inside the house and Billy’s father complains about suffering neck pain, the pain keeps gets worse and worse…

I liked this wrap around story. It’s not as in-depth as the main five of the film, but it works as a great into and outro, a nice little way to bookend the whole thing. One of the binmen is played by the great Tom Savini, make-up genius, part-time actor that he is. Oh and did you spot the marble ashtray in all of the stories?

Overall

I honestly love this film. Still the best anthology horror film made for me. It’s just the prefect blending of horror and deeply dark comedy that works. The performances are solid throughout and as I said before, there isn’t a ‘bad’ story in the lot. The comic book presentation really works well and pay a wonderful homage to those classic EC Comics the film was inspired by. You can even buy the actual Creepshow comic… well graphic novel. Written by Stephen King and based on the film. A must own for any Creepshow fan.

Creepshow 2

Creepshow 2 Poster

This sequel took a pretty long time to emerge, by movie standards anyway. Released in 1987, five years after the first film and things have changed. Directed by Michael Gornick, no George A. Romero this time, though he did write the screenplay. The tales are still based on Stephen King short stories though. Another change is that (due to budget issues) there are only three stories over the five from the first film. Oh and the presentation is also slightly different. The comic book idea is still kind of there and so is the prologue/epilogue concept, but now each story is inter-cut with an animated interlude telling the story of Billy… I’ll cover those along with the three main tales. Oh and The Creep himself is vastly different too.

Prologue

So Billy (I don’t know if it’s supposed to be the same Billy from the original, as it’s a different actor) is eagerly awaiting the latest copy of the Creepshow comic. A truck pulls up on the street and a strange man throws out a wrapped package. At which point, the film turns to animation as the package opens to reveal the all new Creepshow comic, the cover of which is the ending scene of the first film… complete with Billy (so they are not the same Billy then?). The delivery man reveals himself to be The Creep… but he looks nothing like The Creep from the first film (is it the same Creep, I just don’t know?). Honestly, the whole opening makes no sense. Anyway, Billy starts to read the latest edition of Creepshow

Old Chief Wood’nhead

So the first story tells the tale of an elderly married couple, Ray (George Kennedy) and Martha Spruce (Dorothy Lamour) who own and run a small town general goods store. Ray is too kind to the local folk and often lets them run up tabs they never pay, much to the disgust of his wife. One of their regular customers is Benjamin Whitemoon (Frank Salsedo) is a Native American elder who comes to the store to settle his debts and offers the Spruce’s his tribe’s most scared jewels as a collateral for payment. Ray reluctantly accepts the treasures and Martha is proven very wrong about the locals… if only for a while. Later that night and Benjamin’s estranged nephew, Sam (Holt McCallany) turns up at the store with a couple of friends and takes back the jewels by force. Both Ray and Martha are killed via Sam’s shotgun. The front of the store features a wooden statue of a brave Indian chief who doesn’t take too kindly to the killing of the people who have looked after him for so many years.

Creepshow 2 Old Chief Wood'nhead

This is a nice little opener. George Kennedy is always a joy to watch and gives a great performance as the overtly trusting Ray. This is nothing more than a very basic revenge story but with a twist. It doesn’t quite have that Creepshow magic, but a good yarn none the less.

Interlude 1

Billy is at the post office picking up a package, he sent off for one of those gag props from a previous Creepshow comic. He get’s slightly belittled by the worker who scoffs at Billy for paying good money for a fake gag from a comic before handing him the parcel. Billy tells him that it’s a bulb for a carnivorous Venus flytrap before leaving the post office as The Creep sets up the next yarn.

The Raft

Four teenage students decide to go for an illicit swim at an abandoned lake. In the middle of the lake is a floating wooden raft, which the teens make a beeline for to soak up some sun. As they swim toward the raft, they notice a large black oil slick type thing that is seemingly coming after them. The students soon find themselves trapped on the wooden raft as the killer oil slick thins out their numbers until only one remains.

Creepshow 2 The Raft

Yeah, there’s not much to this tale. It’s basically an 80s slasher film done in a really short space of time. Not a bad story, but for me it’s the weakest of the three. Nothing really stands out here, but nothing is terrible either. It just kind of exists. The make up effects work is top-notch though with some pretty gruesome gore. Plus there’s a bit of a stinger ending that does leave a bit of a smirk on my face.

Interlude 2

So Billy is heading home after picking  up his carnivorous Venus flytrap bulb from the post office. He is ambushed by a group of bullies who steal his parcel and smash it on the ground, one of the bullies then crushes the bulb with his foot. Billy is enraged and kicks the bully in the baby-maker before fleeing. The bullies give chase and that’s when The Creep introduces the final story.

The Hitch-hiker

Trophy wife, Annie Lansing (Lois Chiles) is cheating on her husband with a male escort… who can provide six (count ’em) orgasms. Annie realises that she is running late and needs to get home before her husband. She gets in her car and speeds off homeward, in a race to get back before her wealthy attorney. Annie is tired… from the extra marital sex and the fact it’s late at night and begins to yawn, as she does she drops her lit cigarette and panics. Annie loses control of the car as it swerves and smashes through road makers. She struggles to regain control of the car and hits and kills a hitch-hiker. No one else is on the road, no one saw what happened and so she speeds off into the night. A passing truck driver (Stephen King) stops at the scene of the crime and does see Annie’s car drive off into the night but it’s too dark to make a positive ID. As Annie goes over the incident in her head, practising making excuses for her husband to explain the damage to the car, see spots the very same hitch-hiker she just killed, he’s just not going to give up on a ride.

Creepshow 2 The Hitch-hiker

You know the saying “they saved the best for last”? Well this is true of this tale. The Hitch-hiker is by far the best story in Creepshow 2. It’s dark, horrific and yet still funny in that very dark vein of humour kind of way. The make-up effects on the hitch-hiker as the story progresses are beautifully twisted and bloody, he also has the most quotable line in the entire film. Special mention has to go to Lois Chiles playing Annie as she slowly goes mad as the events unfold. Her little chats to herself as both funny and disturbing. Just as a little bit of trivia to finish. When making the first Creepshow, the final story ran into some production problems and Stephen King suggested they make The Hitch-hiker the final tale for that film instead. But the issues were eventually worked out so and They’re Creeping Up on You did make the final cut of the film. But just imagine how much better Creepshow (which is already amazing) could’ve been if it ended with this tale instead?

Epilogue

And so we reach the end of Billy’s story. He is still being chased by the bullies and Billy leads them into an overgrown area with weeds and bushes. Just as the bullies set about beating the crap out of Billy, several giant Venus flytrap plants appear and eat the bullies. Suggesting that Billy had previously planted them and purposelessly lured the bullies to their deaths. The film then switches from the animated Billy story back to live action as The Creep throws out copies of the Creepshow comic from the back of a truck for all to read as the truck drives off.

Overall

I remember being really disappointed by this when I first saw it. It’s not on the same level as the original and it’s budget drop over the first one is most definitely seen on screen. But I think I’ve mellowed on it over the years. It’s not great, but it’s okay and entertaining. My main gripe (aside from the uneven story telling and presentation) is The Creep played by Tom Savini. He just does not work here. In the original, The Creep is this silent, skeletal but scary figure with a lot of character. In this sequel, he talks, looks nothing like The Creep should and makes crappy unfunny puns and jokes when linking the stories. They tired to add character to him, but ended up just making him annoying. The little Billy animated tale is rather flat too. I just much preferred the look, style and tone of the original. Creepshow 2 is okay, it’s not awful, but…

Creepshow 3

Creepshow 3 Poster.jpg

So here we are.. oh dear. I’ll make my feelings very clear in this sequel at the end of this one, but spoiler warning… I really, really don’t like this film. There was a much longer gap between sequels this time around as Creepshow 3 was released in 2006. That’s a nineteen year long gap since the last film. Everyone of any talent are gone, no more George A. Romero, no more Stephen King and certainly no more Tom Savini. Directed by Ana Clavell and James Dudelson (don’t worry, I’ve never hard of them either), Creepshow 3 gets very little right, but one of the things is does get right is to go back to the original film’s set up. Five stories with an prologue/epilogue wraparound. So here we go…

Prologue

So to be fair, this isn’t so much a prologue, but more of an intro that displays just how bad the film will be. A short and badly done animation shows a hooded child walking the streets of Creepville, the fictional town all the stories take place in. The animation shows little references to the five main stories including a mysterious hot-dog salesman, before we are thrown into the first proper story of the film.

Alice

A rather self-centred and obnoxious teenager, Alice returns home after a day at school. Her family are relaxing in the living room as her father begins playing around with one of those universal TV remote control things. As he presses the buttons, the family go through various changes such as turning Hispanic. Alice is the only one not affected by the remote control and sees her family continually change with each button press. Well she is kind of affected as each time the family change, Alice mutates. She sees and tries to talk to Professor Dayton, the archetypal brains of the town, to understand what is gong on. Alice soon finds herself back home and everything appears to be normal again, she’s no longer mutating and her family are as they were. Then her father presses the off button on the remote control.

Creepshow 3 Alice

I seriously have no idea what this story is actually about. Why is the TV remote changing Alice’s family, why does she mutate, what involvement does Professor Dayton have? Seriously, no idea what is going on here or what the story is trying to say.. if anything at all. It just seems like a bunch of stuff that happens for no reason. There’s some allusion to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, the girl is called Alice, there’s a white rabbit. I don’t know, the story is utter nonsensical even for Creepshow. Aside from some almost half decent effects work as Alice mutates, this tale has nothing going for it at all.

The Radio

Security guard, Jerry buys a radio from a homeless man on the street. When Jerry gets the radio back to his place, it begins to talk to him. The radio convinces Jerry to commit crime, including murder. He eventually makes a run for it after the police begin to investigate his crime spree, taking with him a hooker who lives in his apartment complex. The radio then tells Jerry to kill the hooker or she will kill him, advice he refuses to take.

Creepshow 3 The Radio.jpg

This yarn is okay, well okay by Creepshow 3 standards anyway. It has one of those ‘careful what you wish for’ kind of morals running through it as Jerry gets a taste for his criminal activities and lusts for more and more until he loses control of his life. A bland and uninteresting story that is wasted as it had a bit of potential.

Call Girl

Call girl Rachel receives a request from Victor who requests ‘servicing’. But Rachel is no ordinary lady of the night, she’s a murderer. She kills her potential customers and really, really enjoys it too. When she arrives at Victor’s home, she gets to work right away, handcuffing him to this bed and then stabbing him in the chest. She then goes for a shower to clean up, only she begins to hear Victor in her head, is he really dead?

Creepshow 3 Call Girl

This one is dire, not as bad a Alice for it’s ineptitude of telling a story but still bad enough. It gets a little bloody with some half decent effects. It’s a silly and asinine story that doesn’t really offer anything worth shouting about, it’s just about watchable I suppose.

The Professor’s Wife

Professor Dayton receives a visit from two former students, they have come round meet his much younger fiancée. The students are aware that Dayton has been working on a robot for the last twenty years and assume that his new bride to be is that very robot. When Professor Dayton leaves the house, the students decide to take the robot apart to see just how it works.

Creepshow 3 The Professor's Wife

So I think this is the best story in the film, which isn’t saying much really as the others set the bar so low. But this at the very least has a small semblance of a Creepshow tale. Not a great yarn, but somewhat watchable with that mix of cheeky humour and horror that Creepshow is known for.

Haunted Dog

The final story tells of the cruel and careless Dr. Farwell. He ridicules the patients at the clinic where he works and makes them feel worse then when they went to see him. He buys a hot-dog from a street vendor, which he drops on the floor. Not wanting to waste the food, he gives it to a homeless man as an ‘act of kindness’. The homeless guy begins to choke and Dr. Farwell just walks away as he dies in the street. But the dead man returns to haunt the bad doctor.

Creepshow 3 Haunted Dog.jpg

This almost feels like a remake of The Hitch-hiker story from Creepshow 2… almost. There’s even a similar line said in this that is a kind of throwback to that other tale. This is no where near as well written or made as The Hitch-hiker, not at all, but it just has a similar vibe to it. Not a good watch at all, like pretty much all the other stories, so at least it’s consistent.

Epilogue

This one wraps up in a kind of ensemble finale where characters from the five stories all interact as Professor Dayton finally get’s married and the hot-dog vendor is revealed as being The Creep… only a really bad version of him using some awful CGI.

Overall

Creepshow 2 was definitely a step down from the original, but while it disappointed me, it’s still watchable and is entertaining. Creepshow 3 is not so much a step down, but more a case of it’s fallen of the ladder from a great height and slammed into the ground, creating a huge mess. This is awful, no other way to describe it. The stories are bland, the acting is atrocious and the effects work mostly look like something the great Tom Savini would throw out as rejects. If there is one thing about Creepshow 3 that I enjoyed, then it’s probably how all the stories tie together. Characters from one yarn will appear in another as all of them take place in the same small town. References and nods to the other tales can be found peppered though the film that work to link everything together. Quite honestly, that aspect is rather well done. But everything else is fucking terrible. The Professor’s Wife is about the only Creepshow feeling story in the film and even then, only just barely. I kind of think it’s worth watching Creepshow 3 just to see how badly the franchise fell. Honestly, watch the original and then watch this directly after. The drop in quality, the lack of any talent both behind and in front of the camera is painfully apparent. Creepshow 3 is the perfect example of how to ruin a great concept.


Creepshow Comics

Well, this article is getting a little lengthy and there’s still more to cover with the new Creepshow TV series and all of it’s episodes (plus a little bonus too). So I think I’ll split this one into two parts to give both you and me a bit of a break. Plus the fact that as of the time of publishing this, I’ve not yet seen the final episode of the TV show, it airs in just a few hours. So I’ll see you in part II.

 

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Games That Aren’t Based On Movies…Honest!

When it comes to gaming, the movie license genre can be very hit or miss – with many, many more misses than hits. For every awesome GoldenEye 007 there’s a dozen or so Charlie’s Angels, Fight Club, Batman Forever and so on. The main thing about the movie licensed game is timing as developers/publishers want the game out in shops when the movie is in the cinema. A good film can result in a well selling game regardless of quality. Another factor of the licensed game is the cost as money has to go toward not only developing the game itself and paying all those wages of everyone that works on it, but there is also the cost of the licence itself. The bigger and more famous the movie, the more the studio want for the licence to make a game based on it. So what if a developer doesn’t really feel like paying for a movie license? Just make the game anyway and change a few details and claim the game is ‘inspired by’ instead of ‘based on’.

So here I’m going to take a quick look at a few games that are very clearly ‘inspired by’ movies but most definitely not ‘based on’ them…honest!

Werewolves of London

Werewolves of London.jpg

Developed by Viz Design and released for the  ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC and Commodore 64 in 1987. Interestingly, the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC versions were released on the same cassette as a ‘flippy’ with the Spectrum version on one side and the Amstrad on the other, probably to save production costs.

The basic plot of the game has you playing as a character who is cursed with Lycanthropy and you have to find the people who put the curse on you and kill them. An interesting action game with some light strategy elements. But the game was released unfinished as original publisher, Ariolasoft ended up going bankrupt. You play as a human but when the in-game timer hits midnight, your werewolf side comes out. This is when you are hunted by the folk of London as well as the police. The more people you kill and the more active the police become. Avoid the police and kill those who put the curse on you to win the game.

Werewolf of London Poster

I suppose that 1981’s An American Werewolf in London would be the obvious reference with this game and there are definitely elements of the film in there. But I think it’s biggest influence would be the 1935 flick, Werewolf of London. The plot of the film features a character who is bitten by a werewolf while on an expedition to Tibet and infected with Lycanthropy. Back home in London and he manages to track down the person/werewolf who bit him, who is now in London and seeks his revenge.

Alien Breed

Alien Breed.jpg

A simple top-down arcade shooter that takes inspiration from the arcade classic Gauntlet but wearing a nice Sci-Fi hat. Developed and published by Team 17 in 1991 originally for the Amiga – though other ports soon followed. Alien Breed became a successful franchise with numerous sequels, updates and even remakes.

The game has a simple enough goal of getting the the end of the level to progress to the next. The goal itself may be simple but actually achieving it is not as each level is full of aliens and locked doors to hinder your progress. Thankfully each level is littered with power-ups and credits that you can pick up and spend in terminals to buy new weapons and upgrades.

Aliens

Do I really need to mention which film(s) this game series is inspired by? Alien and its sequel Aliens are the all too obvious influences here. In fact the original Alien Breed game was so much like the Alien films (in particular the alien designs and weapons) that developer Team 17 actually approached 20th Century Fox who own the Alien film rights and asked for permission to make the game, which Fox happily agreed to. So Alien Breed is technically approved by but not based on the Alien films.

I feel a couple of honorable mentions need to go to Alien Syndrome and the Contra franchise who’s games are also very clearly influenced by the Alien films.

Zombi

Zombi

Ubi Soft are one of the biggest developer/publishers working today with successful franchises such as Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry and Watch Dogs to name a few. Back in 2012 they released a zombie survival game called Zombi U for the Nintendo Wii which was later ported to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox 360. Not many people know that Zombi U was actually a reboot of their very first game released back in 1986, Zombi.

An action/adventure game where you control four protagonists who find themselves stuck in a huge shopping mall full of zombies. You must scavenge the mall for anything to help you battle the unrelenting zombie hordes. Search shops for guns and supplies as you fight to keep your four heroes alive and find fuel for an awaiting helicopter on the roof to make your escape.

Dawn of the Dead

All of this should sound very familiar to any self-respecting horror film fan. Ubi Soft’s Zombi is basically an unofficial game version of the George A. Romero classic zombie flick Dawn of the Dead. Its the exact same plot and the game features several elements taken directly from the film including using trucks to block the entrances to the mall and a gang of bikers who turn up adding to the zombie chaos. Just as an interesting aside, the movie Dawn of the Dead was re-titled Zombi for some European counties including France where Ubi Soft originated from.

Speaking of Dawn of the Dead…

Dead Rising

Dead Rising.jpg

Capcom released the first Dead Rising in 2006 with the latest in the series released in 2016. Several spin-offs and remakes have been released along the way too. All in all, Dead Rising is a pretty successful franchise in its own right. Each game has its own unique setting, but its the first game in the franchise that we need to take a look at here.

Playing as photojournalist, Frank West – you find yourself in a shopping mall that becomes overrun with zombies. Explore the mall, search shops for weapons and save survivors along the way…any of this sound familiar?

Yup, we have another zombie survival game inspired by Dawn of the Dead. In fact, Capcom were so worried about facing backlash form George A, Romero that the original print run for the game came with a disclaimer on the cover that read:

“This game was not developed, approved or licensed by the owners or creators of George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead.”

Dead Rising Disclaimer Cover.jpg

While Dead Rising only used a similar setting to Dawn of the Dead (unlike Ubi Soft’s Zombie with just ripped it off completely – story and all), you still feel the George A. Romero influence throughout and despite what Capcom may claim, its pretty obvious that Dawn of the Dead was a major inspiration.

Shadowrun

Shadowrun

So there have been several Shadowrun games over the years but I’ll be looking at the SNES version for this one. The games are most directly based on the tabletop RPG board game series but that itself is inspired by a certain movie. The SNES version of Shadowrun was released in 1993 by developer Beam Software.

Set in a cyberpunk-fantasy, dystopian future where you play as a Jake Armitage who wakes up in a morgue with complete memory loss and has to investigate who he is and why he woke up in a morgue. Jake explores the city interrogating civilians and being attacked by cybernetically enhanced humans.

Blade Runner

Story wise, they are nothing alike (the story is actually based on the first Shadowrun novel – Never Deal with a Dragon) but its the setting and overall look that makes Shadowrun very, very similar to the 1982 Sci-Fi classic Blade Runner. The look of the characters, the lexicon the dialogue is written in, the weapons, the overall art style, etc all have a very distinct Blade Runner look and feel to them and all make the SNES version of Shadowrun one of the best (none) Blade Runner games.

Another couple of notable mentions to the games Snatcher and Syndicate as other Blade Runner-esque titles.


There are several other games that are quite clearly ‘inspired by’ other movies, but I’ll save those for another time.

George A. Romero

Strangely enough, last night I was watching Night of the Living Dead when the news of the legendary George A. Romero’s passing popped up onto my news feed. And I do mean ‘legendary’, a word that is often thrown around when talking about writers/directors/actors, etc and one often misused – but what else can you call the person who invented the modern zombie?

Right here, I’d like to take a look at Romero’s amazing career in films and even games, his massive influence and how he changed the horror genre forever.

George A Romero Quote

Born George Andrew Romero on the 4th of February, 1940.  Romero was born in the New York borough of The Bronx. He started his career filming short films and commercials and in the late 1960s, he formed a production company called Image Ten Productions. In 1968 Romero wrote, produced and directed quite simply one of the most seminal and influential horror movies ever – Night of the Living Dead.

Night of the Living Dead

Originally called Night of the Flesh Eaters and even given a copyright under that title. The film’s name was later changed to Night of the Living Dead, yet the original theatrical distributor failed to include a new copyright under the new name and the film became public domain. Romero never made a single penny form the movie as it became the most popular horror film of 1968 meeting with rave reviews and high critical praise.

There are pluses and minuses to the film being in the public domain. The negatives mean anyone can do anything to the film… and they have – from colourised versions and alternate cuts with newly added scenes and music to endless remakes and reissues. As of writing, there are six different remakes/version of this movie and countless alternate cuts and variations. The major positive about this being in the public domain is that the movie can be seen completely free and legal pretty much anywhere – including right here…

Night of the Living Dead created what we consider the modern zombie. Yeah sure, there had been zombie flicks before it, but they were zombies created by mind control or curses, etc. It was George A. Romero who changed zombies into the re-animated dead corpses that eat flesh that we now know. The film’s influence can still be felt today and zombies are more popular than ever now. Big fan of the TV show The Walking Dead? You can thank George A. Romero for that, even The Walking Dead creator, Robert Kirkman has stated how much of an inspiration Romero and Night of the Living Dead was to him.

The Simon Pegg/Edgar Wright modern classic Shaun of the Dead was massively inspired by Romero’s work and chock full of hidden jokes and references for the hardcore Romero fan to find. The influence this movie has continued for decades and still remains today.

Romero may have never made any money from his first major film, but the high praise the movie did get allowed him to make more movies (this time with copyrights). He continued to make more movies including There’s Always VanillaJack’s Wife / Season of the Witch and The Crazies. None of the films really made any impact in the way Night of the Living Dead did previously. Then in 1978, Romero directed Martin.

George A Romero Martin

Martin is a vampire film with a lot of heart, a stylistic flick that modernised the vampire lore. Often overlooked and forgotten about, Martin is a film I can’t recommend enough.

It was also in 1978 when Romero released what many (including myself) consider the greatest zombie film ever made – Dawn of the Dead. Released a decade after his first foray into the zombie film, this is not a sequel to Night of the Living Dead but more so just another zombie picture that may or may not exist in the same universe. Romero then followed this up with another zombie movie – Day of the Dead in 1985 which rounded off his then ‘Dead trilogy’ of films.

It was in 1982 when the trifecta of horror royalty of the 80s came together to make what is considered one of the all time great anthology horror movies…

Creepshow

Creepshow. Three of the finest in 80s horror teamed up to bring this flick to the big screen. So you have George A. Romero directing stories written by Stephen King with the awesome Tom Savini doing the special effects/make-up work. Three of the best of the best of the best all in one fantastic movie. Creepshow is a great mix of gore, scares, macabre and very, very black humour. One of my all time favourite anthology films that any horror fan should watch.

Romero was at the top of his game through the 80s and most of the 90s too. Films like Monkey Shines, Two Evil Eyes and The Dark Half (written by Stephen King) ensured Romero kept himself busy. And in 1990 , he updated his original screen play for Night of the Living Dead to be remade by his long time friend and collaborator – Tom Savini, a remake I definitely recommend as its great. But Romero didn’t just stay behind the camera as he made a easy to miss cameo in The Silence of the Lambs in 1991 as one of Lecter’s jailers…

George A Romero Silence of the Lambs

Romero not only plied his talent to movies, but also video games too. In 1998, he directed an advert for the then new Resident Evil 2 game. A game franchise that is very heavily influenced by Romero’s ‘Dead’ series of films. He was even asked to direct a whole movie based on the game franchise but declined saying:

 “I don’t wanna make another film with zombies in it, and I couldn’t make a movie based on something that ain’t mine.”

But the time the 2000s rolled around, Romero’s film career was drying up. His influences were still felt throughout the film-making world, and his ‘Dead’ film series started to see numerous remakes as zombies became hugely popular once more. Both Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead saw remakes in the 2000s. As the zombie genre was gaining popularity, Romero decided he was not yet done with his ‘Dead’ series and directed a few more films – Land of the DeadDiary of the Dead and Survival of the Dead. 

Romero also made a cameo as a main boss in the game Call of Duty: Black Ops. He appears as a zombie version of himself in the add-on Call of the Dead zombie map.

George A Romero Call of the Dead

Romero was joined by other horror TV and movie icons, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Danny Trejo, Michael Rooker, and Robert Englund. 

On the 13th of July this year, Romero announced yet another film in his ‘Dead’ series – Road of the Dead and even released an official poster.

George A Romero Road of the Dead

He described the movie as…

“Set in a sanctuary city where this fat cat runs a haven for rich folks, and one of the things that he does is stage drag races to entertain them. There’s a scientist there doing genetic experiments, trying to make the zombies stop eating us, and he has discovered that with a little tampering, they can recall certain memory skills that enable them to drive in these races. It’s really The Fast and the Furious with zombies.”

Just three days later and he passed away. What is going to happen to the movie now is (as of writing) unknown.

George A. Romero’s influence has lasted almost fifty years, from his breakthrough classic Night of the Living Dead in 1968 right up to today. He has had a hand in creating some of the best and most recognisable writers and directors working in horror today. Romero also influenced the video game world and I’m sure he will continue to influence the horror genre in any medium for many more years to come too.

George A. Romero passed away in his sleep on the 16th of July, 2017 following a brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer.

George A Romero

“If I fail, the film industry writes me off as another statistic. If I succeed, they pay me a million bucks to fly out to Hollywood and fart.” – George A. Romero