Tag Archives: Stephen King

Sin Never Dies: A Carrie Retrospective

Yes, it’s Halloween again, so time for my annual Halloween article(s). This year, I’m looking at a certain teenager with a pretty unusual talent.

Stephen King is arguably one of the greatest horror/supernatural writers of any generation. Celebrating his seventy-third birthday just last month, he’s still going strong too with his latest novel due out next year. Of course, as famed as Stephen is for his more macabre scribblings, using either his real name or the pseudonym of Richard Bachman, he’s also penned many non-horror novels and stories too, such as The Green Mile, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption and 11/22/63 to name a few. But I’m here to look at his very first published novel (fourth he wrote but first to be published), Carrie and it’s entire franchise.

CARRIE ART 2

The Novel

Originally published in 1974, after several years as a struggling writer, the world was finally introduced to Stephen King via his novel, Carrie. Telling to story of troubled teenager, Carrie White and her strained relationship with her deeply religious mother, Margaret. I think we all know the plot of this one by now. Still, I’ll quickly go over it regardless. Just another quick one, SPILOERS ahead, even if you know the film, the novel still has some differences and surprises, though I will just summarise the plot and not reveal everything.

Carietta ‘Carrie’ White, aged sixteen, is a socially awkward, overweight and unpopular outcast in her school. She is often verbally bulled for her frumpy looks, acne, being fat and outdated clothing. One day, after gym class and while showering, Carrie has her first period. Due to her mother’s religious beliefs and very despotic nature, she never taught Carrie about menstruation. Completely unware of what is happening to her, she begins to panic, believing she is bleeding to death. This is when her bully classmates take the opportunity to ridicule the distraught Carrie as much as they can. Led by the popular girl, Chris Hargensen, the other girls begin to throw tampons as Carrie as she becomes increasingly more upset and confused over what is happening, her anger boils over and a lightbulb in the shower room explodes. Gym teacher, Rita Desjardin enters the shower room and breaks up the disruption. She cleans Carrie up, explains all about menstruation and takes her to the principle. After the principle continually get’s her name wrong, the upset Carrie lashes out and an ashtray on the desk flips onto the floor. Carrie is excused from school for the day and goes home.

On her way home, Carrie is harassed by a local kid riding a bike. Her rage returns and the kid falls off the bike, this is when she realises that she caused it to happen and begins to question her powers. When she gets home, Carrie quizzes her mother, Margaret on why she was never told about menstruation. Margaret’s (unnatural) religious beliefs make her think her daughter is filled with sin, she loses it, beats Carrie while spouting scripture and then locks her in a closest for six hours of praying.

The next day at school and Mrs Desjardin punishes the girls who bullied Carrie in the shower with a week of detention. If they disobey the detention, then they will be excluded from the up and coming school prom. Main bully-girl, Chris, defies Mrs Desjardin and so, is told she can’t go to the prom. Chris tries to get her influential father to reverse the punishment, which is unsuccessful. A now very angry Chris decides to plan revenge on Carrie. Meanwhile, one of the other bullies Sue Snell begins to genuinely feel sorry for Carrie, she asks her boyfriend, Tommy Ross to take Carrie to the prom in a bid to help her begin to feel better about herself. After some distrust (and who can blame her?), Carrie agrees to the date.

Chris begins her plan for revenge by rigging the prom queen votes so Carrie wins, meaning she would be called up on stage. Another part of Chris’ revenge includes killing pigs and filling two buckets with their blood, with the help her boyfriend, Billy Nolan. Chris’ plan works, Carrie and Tommy are voted as prom queen and king, both being called up on to the stage. Tommy even begins to find Carrie attractive in her homemade prom dress. With the couple on stage, Chris, who is hiding, drops the two buckets of pigs blood on the couple, drenching them both. One of the buckets hits Tommy on the head and kills him. Carrie stands there in shock, covered in pigs blood as the crowd of watching teens begin to laugh at her. Humiliated, confused and ashamed, Carrie leaves the building as the torment continues.

Now outside of the school, Carrie decides to try her telekinetic powers. She seals everyone inside, using electricity, fire and just good old fashioned throwing people around to kill everyone. As Carrie’s rage builds, the bodies pile up. A fire spreads, leading to an explosion that destroys the school. Carrie makes her way back home, on the way she destroys gas stations, power lines and more. She also sends out a telepathic message which the townsfolk can hear, telling everyone that she is responsible for the carnage and deaths. Now back at home, Margaret believes her daughter has been possessed by the Devil himself and tries to kill Carrie. She is stabbed in the shoulder, our of anger, Carrie kills her mother by using her powers to stop her heart.

Bleeding heavily, Carrie leaves her house and sees bully-girl Chris and her boyfriend Billy, who ran away after the pigs blood thing, but before Carrie went telekinetic crazy and killed everyone. With Billy driving, he and Chris try to run Carrie over, but she takes control of the car and drives it into a wall, killing them both. Sue Snell, who heard Carrie’s previous telepathic message, finds Carrie bleeding to death from the previous stab wound. Carrie dies while crying out for her mother.


I think what is quite surprising about the book is how it is written and presented. It’s not a ‘normal’ book at all. Right from the opening few lines, you are told that Carrie has telekinetic powers, so it’s not a surprise (unlike the film for instance). Carrie herself does not realise until later, but you the reader are told right from the start. Plus, the book almost comes across as a documentary over a piece of usual novel-like storytelling. There are no chapters and it’s one long continual plot, but it is broken up with quotes and references from (fictional) newspaper/magazine articles and books covering the story of Margaret and Carrie White. There are investigations into the possibly of telekinetic powers from science books, interviews with people who knew Carrie and her mother, newspaper reports and the like. These a large section were one of the White’s old neighbours is interviewed about a strange occurrence that happened when Carrie was three years-old. These parts of the book all work to fill in backstory and flesh out the plot as you read. It’s kind of told as if the events in the book have already happened as you read them, an epistolary novel, one that feels more like a documentation than a story being told. For a first (published) novel, it’s a bold writing style, but it really works.

CARRIE NOVEL

I saw the film long before I ever read the novel. I did first read the book a good twenty years ago, but lost my copy. So I bought a new one just for this article and re-read it. Despite watching and knowing the film very well indeed, and despite already reading the book years ago, there are still some great surprises here and plot elements I had forgotten about. Really enjoyed reading this again for this article and very much recommend it, even if you know the film as well as I do, the novel still has the power to surprise and shock with sub-plots dealing with teenage pregnancy and more. Plus, if you’ve never read a Stephen King novel before, then this is a great place to start. It’s unusual, documentary-like presentation may take a while to get used to, but it really is worth it in the end.

The Movies

Carrie was never meant to be a franchise, but it eventually kind of became one. There was only one true sequel to the first film, but several different versions of the original.

Carrie

CARRIE 76 POSTER

Released in 1976 from director, Brian De Palma was the first ever Carrie film. I’m not really going to dwell on the plot as it’s pretty much the same as the novel, which I have already covered up there ^^^. There are a few changes here and there between the two versions. Pretty much all of the sub-plots from the novel are gone, the documentary style storytelling of the novel is also gone, and so too is any of the backstory about Carrie as a little girl, as the film offers more of a straight forward narrative. Oh and they spelled Stephen King’s name wrong in the trailer too.


For me, Sissy Spacek as Carrie, I think she is just perfect casting, her portrayal as the shy and scared teenager is utterly brilliant. She is very different from the book though, no longer overweight and covered in spots, but still bullied and ridiculed by the other girls. The way she goes from that introvert girl at the start, to learning about her unique talent to quite frankly, terrifying mass-murderess at the school prom is one of my all time favourite horror performances. That image of Carrie covered in pigs blood is one of the most iconic horror images ever.

CARRIE 76 BLOOD

Then there is Piper Laurie as Carrie’s over-controlling and deeply religious mother, Margaret. As much as I love Sissy Spacek in this flick (and I do), Piper Laurie is on a whole other level. She’s fucking crazy! The speech Margaret gives over how Carrie was conceived is both touching and terrifying. The way she abuses her daughter, for what she believes is the better, is heart-breaking… and then there is Margaret’s demise which is a wonderful resolve (different from the book), yet one Carrie regrets despite all the abuse. Both Sissy and Piper were nominated for Oscars (Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress respectively) for their roles in Carrie, neither won, but a multiple Oscar nonlimited horror film is a rarity, especially back in the seventies.

CARRIE 76 JOHN

Of course, Carrie also introduced the world to some young actor called John Travolta, who played Billy Nolan, the boyfriend to one of my all time favourite cinematic bullies.  Nancy Allen as Chris Hargensen is just such an evil and spiteful little bitch. Her hatred toward Carrie is a major driving-force and the catalyst to the entire massacre at film’s climax. Plus I have to give a mention to Amy Irving as Sue Snell, one of the few survivors of the film and a character that actually ends up wanting to help Carrie despite starting out as one of the bullies.

Simply put, Carrie is one of the all time great horror films and still very effective now, forty-four years later. Between the movie and the book, I feel this is one of the very rare occasions where the film is better… and the novel is great.

The Rage: Carrie 2

RAGE CARRIE 2 POSTER

Then just a short twenty-three years later, a sequel was made in 1999. The Rage: Carrie 2 sees Rachel Lang (Emily Bergl), a teenage girl living in a foster home after her mother suffers a schizophrenic episode, believing her daughter’s telekinetic powers are linked to the Satan himself. Rachel is a school outcast with only one real friend, Lisa. However, when Lisa commits suicide, Rachel soon learns why. Lisa was used for sex and then rejected by a popular school jock, Eric.

Taking the story to the police, Eric, who is eighteen years-old, could be arrested for statutory rape. Enter school guidance counsellor, Sue Snell (Amy Irving) from the original film who offers her support to help Rachel. Eric learns that it is Rachel behind the implications into Lisa’s death and turns up at her house to scare her into not talking to the police. Only it is Eric who gets scared when Rachel lets loose with her telekinetic powers. Meanwhile. Sue notices Rachel’s powers and begins an investigation of her own, one that drags up some personal history. Sue discovers that Rachel’s mother had an illicit affair with Ralph White, Carrie’s real father. Rachel is Carrie’s half-sister. Sue takes Rachel to the ruins of her old high school, the one Carrie destroyed in the first film, this is where Sue tells Rachel the story of Carrie and who they are related.

RAGE CARRIE 2

Long story short and Rachel is invited to a house party, under false pretences and things go very… well they go very Carrie when Rachel learns how she had been deceived. She unleashes her powers and goes on a killing spree.


I think the biggest problem with The Rage: Carrie 2 is that it’s just so very average. As a sequel to one of the finest horror films ever made, it doesn’t do anything worthy of note. It not only just re-treads the original film, pretty much beat for beat, it also falls into a typical nineties horror film category. There are no genuine surprises here and you can tell exactly where the film is going after the first ten minutes. If it wasn’t for the tenuous links to the original film, there would be no reason for this to be a sequel at all. It’s a very cheap re-hash of a classic piece of cinema and while I don’t really dislike The Rage: Carrie 2, I don’t particularly enjoy it either.

RAGE CARRIE 2 SUE

Emily Bergl gives a very one-note and uninspired performance as Rachel. She plays that ‘misunderstood’ teenage girl you’ve seen before, it’s just all very typical. Admittedly, it was nice to see Amy Irving back as Sue from the first film, but even that is just one of those pointless and tenuous links that really didn’t need to be there. The Rage: Carrie 2 is an utterly superfluous sequel. It’s not a bad film in of itself, just a pointless sequel that really does nothing interesting other than offer typical nineties horror-fare that’s a little bit like the original Carrie.

Carrie

CARRIE 02 POSTER

Then in 2002, the first remake or perhaps more apt would be re-adaption of Carrie was released. This one was a made for TV movie based more so on King’s novel than the original 1976 film. Again, It’s not really worth going into the plot as it’s pretty much the same as the original film and novel, with a few minor changes here and there. But is it any good?


No, not really. It all just feels very desperate and pointless. As superfluous as The Rage: Carrie 2 was, at least it was trying to add to the mythology of the story. This version doesn’t even do that. The whole thing feels very ‘cheap’ with poor effects work and a very poor adaption of King’s novel. In terms of it being closer to the book… yeah, I guess it kind of is.

This version does explore Carrie’s childhood and backstory, just like the novel did. The ending of this version is a bit more like the book, but also puts its own spin on it too. Sadly, it’s all just so very dull. The lack of budget as it’s a TV movie really shows, some of the effects are laughably bad, especially for the infamous stone shower scene from the novel. I’m not sure how a film from 2002 can look worse than one from 1976, but here it is.

CARRIE 02 BLOOD

Angela Bettis as Carrie is about the only enjoyable thing about the whole film. She’s hardly award worthy, but she’s a damn sight better than anyone else in the film. The worst crime this film commits is that it’s just not scary. It’s one of the least tense and frightening horror films ever made. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the sexual references and blood, you could show this version of Carrie to your kids. If this had a bigger budget and better talent both behind and in front of the camera, it could’ve been great. A really interesting adaption of King’s novel… but it’s just so flat.

Carrie

CARRIE 13 POSTER

Yes, there is yet another Carrie. This one is a full on, big budget remake, unlike the previous TV movie, so it should be good then right?  Released in 2013, directed by Kimberly Peirce. Starring Chloë Grace Moretz at Carrie with Julianne Moore as her mother, Margaret.


For me, this is pretty bad. I watched this at the cinema and remember coming out thinking it was okay. I re-watched it for this article and thought it was terrible. Again, there’s little point in covering the plot as it really doesn’t differ all that much from the novel or the 1976 film adaption. This version claims to be based more on the novel and not the first flick, I’m not 100% sure about that. There are some plot points from the novel that make their way into this version, though they are tweaked for a more modern audience. But I just felt this was a bog-standard remake of the 76 film more so than anything else.

CARRIE 13 CLOHE

Chloë Grace Moretz as Carrie just does not work for me at all. The character is supposed to be this frumpy, out of place and awkward girl due to her looks. Have you seen Moretz? She’s a stunning looking girl. Now, I’m not saying they couldn’t cast a pretty young woman in the role… cos they already did that with the original. Sissy Spacek was very pretty, especially back in the mid-seventies when Carrie was being filmed…

SISSY SPACEK 70s

The thing is, they used a great wardrobe and make-up to make Spacek look more ‘Carrie’ in the film. That just does not come across in this remake. Aside from some outdated clothing, Chloë Grace Moretz looks just as pretty pre-school prom as Carrie as she does during the prom. There just seemed to be little to zero effort put in to make her look ‘out of place’, where as the original had that perfected. Then there’s the acting itself, again, going back to the original and Sissy Spacek nailed it (that’s why she was Oscar nominated). She felt awkward in her performance. I just never got that with Chloë Grace Moretz here. She does this one thing where she hunches her shoulders and looks down… that’s it. That’s the entire performance of Carrie until the prom massacre… and about that.

The grand finale of the film is its most famous scene and you’ve got to get it right. It’s the pay-off to all the bullying and abuse Carrie as suffered. While the effects work is good, it’s the acting that ruins that scene here. Moretz does this hand waving thing every time she uses her powers and it looks stupid. Go back and watch the original film, watch how Sissy Spacek conveys the rage and anger, the use of her powers just with the movement of her head, her eyes… that’s all she does, cos that’s all that was needed. Less dramatics, but a much more powerful performance. Here, Chloë Grace Moretz come across as a second rate magician at a seven year-old’s birthday party with all the hand gestures and arm waving. It just ruins the feeling of rage when you look like you’re trying to pass an audition on a shitty Simon Cowell talent show.

CARRIE 13 PROM

Then there’s Julianne Moore as Margaret. I love Moore, I think she’s a brilliant actress… I’ll even praise her performance in the Psycho remake. She should be amazing as the religious nut, Margret White, but she’s not. It’s just a very plain and subdued performance, almost phoned in. The few times she does snap and go crazy, it’s just all very ‘pantomime villain’. Piper Laurie in the original was sublime (again, Oscar nominated), she’s one of the great big screen villains, pure evil. Which considering she was playing a deeply religious character was wonderfully ironic. Where as Julianne Moore here is just very ‘meh’. But I don’t blame either actress for the missteps here, it’s  a directing issue. I honestly feel that Kimberly Peirce was just clueless of how to work with the material and actors she had.

This remake is just plain bad, woeful.


And that’s about it for the movies. Overall, the 1976 original is still a fantastic piece of cinema and well worth watching today. One of the finest horror films ever made. The sequel, The Rage: Carrie 2 is very mundane and middle of the road. The 2002 TV movie is a wasted opportunity. Then the 2013 remake is just terrible. Read the novel, watch the 76 flick… maybe take a look at The Rage: Carrie 2 if you’re curious. But, that’s the best of the lot.

Carrie

CARRIE MUSICAL

Okay, so there is one final thing worth looking at. A rather strange curiosity… a musical. Oh yeah, there was a Carrie musical. Originally performed in February on 1988 in Stratford-upon-Avon, it eventually made it’s way to Broadway later the same year. Now, the original 1988 performance is known as one of the worst stage shows ever. It even inspired a book, Ken Mandelbaum’s, Not Since Carrie: Forty Years of Broadway Musical Flops from 1992.

However, though the show was a complete flop, it has been revived several times over the years, with the most recent performance being in 2019. There have been several recordings of various performances of the musical over the years. Here’s the original 1988 one, another from 2013, and this one filmed in 2019.

I’ve not actually watched any of the musicals, cos I’m kind if a bit Carrie fatigued now to be honest. But that’s about it, the entire Carrie franchise covered. I do have one more article for Halloween…

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 hubby. 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.

They All Float! IT Wasn’t Scary At All

Sorry folks but that clown was about as scary as a fluffy bunny wearing a pink bow. Now I’m not talking about the recent film remake in the cinema that is getting good reviews right now. Oh no – I want to take a look at the original TV mini-series that aired back in 1990.

It Novel

For those not in the know. IT was an adaption of the Stephen King novel of the same name. Many people consider the novel to be pretty damn terrifying, though it tends to drag on in places – its a horrific story done in that Stephen King style. There’s blood, gore, violence and even an underage gangbang.

The Novel

The story revolves around a groups of kids living in Derry, Maine during the late 1950s who call themselves ‘The Losers Club’. They are haunted by a mysterious creature who manifests itself as the kids most deep rooted fears; a mummy, a leper, a werewolf and most famously – a clown. The kids manage to fight of this creature, this IT and the kids make a pact they they will return to Derry to fight of IT again if IT ever returns.

Of course IT does return later as its stated in the book that IT must feed every 27 years. The kids are now grown up and IT begins to terrorise the children of Derry once more. So as adults, ‘The Losers Club’ reunite to defeat IT once and for all.

So that’s the basics of the novel – lets take a look at the mini-series.

The Mini-series

Originally aired on the ABC network on TV in 1990 and split into two parts shown over two consecutive nights totalling a 192 minute run-time – the later DVD release has a 187 run-time and has several scenes removed or shortened.

Pennywise 2

And this is the main problem for this mini-series. The fact it was made for TV in 1990. You see, TV can get away with pretty much anything these days. We have bloody/gory TV shows full of violence everywhere now. But this was not the case back in 1990, while the mini-series does have its share of blood – its really nothing compared to the novel. EVERYTHING is watered down. Just as an example: the novel opens with a kid, Georgie chasing a paper boat down a gutter. This is where we first meet IT the clown, ‘Mr Bob Gray’ as he introduces himself (A.K.A ‘Pennywise’). As Georgie reaches into the gutter to retrieve his paper boat, Pennywise pulls Georgie’s arm off – and this is all depicted in gruesome detail. In the mini-series, you have Georgie chasing his boat and meeting Pennywise who does grab the kid’s arm… and then it cuts to black and you see nothing.

Most of the scenes of this mini-series are just like this, they have the build up, the tension – but the payoff is just not there and you’re left with nothing.

Then there is the structure. The mini-series jumps around every five minuets between the 1950’s period when they were kids to the ‘present day’ as adults. I don’t mind non-linear structure (some of the stuff I write is done this way), but its overused here and gets annoying… really, really annoying. You’re introduced to a character as an adult and it’ll flashback to when they were a kid – rinse and repeat for every single main character in the plot. It fills in the back story but with all the jumping around – you’re left with a headache and not enough time to get to know each character. This is something the new remake corrects as its split into two separate moives with the first one just following the kids and the second flick telling the story of the adults – a much better narrative.

ITs Not Scary

When I say ‘ITs not scary’ I mean in both the sense of the overall story and how its been diluted for TV to the IT character itself. Most of the ‘scares’ in this involve balloons… yes – balloons.

IT Balloon

There’s a scene where one character (Mike Hanlon) does his annoying flashback introduction thing and when it cuts back to him as an adult – a balloon is floating next to him and it pops… and this is supposed to be a scare. See the pic above for another example of a balloon scare. There’s another scene where a fridge is opened and a load of balloons come out. There are balloons everywhere in this thing – in fact, I think there are more balloons than characters and its clear they’re really trying to make balloons scary. They just randomly appear and pop – popping balloons are not scary. They can give you a jump in real-life when you’re not expecting it I admit – but in a supposedly scary TV horror adaption?

I can just imagine how the pitch went for this mini-series…

Director: “I want to turn Stephen King’s IT into a TV series.”

Producer: “That’s quite a violent and bloody book. You sure we can get away with that stuff on TV?”

Director: “Already have that covered – we’ll remove most of the scares, blood and violence and replace it all with balloons.”

Balloon Pop

Okay so the mini-series has a few decent scary moments… a few. But for something that runs at 192 minuets – its just not enough. I’ve seen scarier Goosebumps episodes and that was a kids TV show.

Pennywise

Now for the main course – Pennywise himself. He comes across as just mildly more scary then all those damn balloons. Now I mean no disrespect to Tim Curry playing Pennywise here as he’s amazing. This mini-series is worth watching just for Tim Curry’s performance alone. He really pours his heart and soul into this role and that shows on the screen… he’s just not scary.

Pennywise 3

No, not even with those teeth. Not scary. He’s funny – downright hilarious in fact. cracking jokes, making puns and that laugh.

Pennywise: “Do you have Prince Albert in a can? You do! Well you’d better let the the poor guy out! HU-HA-HU-HA-HU-HA.”

Pennywise Gif.gif

This is what he does best. Make bad, outdated jokes while laughing hysterically and he’s brilliant at it too. I love Tim Curry in this and I love his character, he’s just in the wrong genre. Tim Curry should return to the role as a kids entertainer –  I’d hire him for birthday parties. I could watch Curry’s Pennywise all damn day.

IT is funner than it is scary and at times it genuinely feels like a parody/spoof. Have a double feature of this and Airplane! and you’re in for a good time.

Now I know what people are thinking – You’re an adult. Of course its not scary now, you should have watched it as a kid.. Well – here’s my rebuttal. This mini-series was made for adults in 1990, so it was adults that would’ve watched it back then. Besides, I’m in my 40s now. I did watch this as a kid back in 1990 (think I saw it in 91). Its not scary now and it wasn’t scary then either.

There was one clown that scared my back when I was a kid and if I’m being honest, still kind of does now. And that was this fella…

Poltergeist Clown.jpg

And that was a doll, and inanimate object.

Pennywise is a riot, a complete laugh. If you want a load of un-scary balloons and a damn amazingly comical clown performance then the IT mini-series is a must see. Its rib-crackingly good fun. Its one of the best comedies of the 90s – well worth a watch. A terrible horror but a brilliant comedy.

I’ve not yet seen the recent remake (yet), but it is getting good reviews and people are saying that it is scary… but is it as funny?

Just as a side note: It is mentioned in the novel how IT returns every 27 years to feed. Well its has been 27 years from the release of the mini-series up to the release of the remake…

Pennywise 2017