Something creepy is happening to the Alamo Drafthouse this weekend.
On Saturday, June 18, we are kicking off our new horror film series, The Graveyard Shift. A monthly event on the third Saturday of the month, The Graveyard Shift will play host to some of the best horror films ever made — from the classics everybody knows and loves to some obscure gems that are just waiting to be discovered, Alamo Drafthouse West Oaks is THE destination for Houston horror fans.
This weekend we kick things off with a screening of CREEPSHOW. A collaboration between Stephen “I write 20 horror novels a year” King and master of the godfather of all zombies George A. Romero, CREEPSHOW was released in 1982. When plotting their collaboration, Romero and King wanted to pay tribute to the world of EC horror comics from the ‘50s.
CREEPSHOW is a special film. It’s one of the better horror anthology movies from the ‘80s — and there are quite a few gems in the sub-genre from that decade. It’s also probably one of the best Stephen King adaptations around. It’s sad, really. Stephen King has written some great novels but they just don’t seem to be easily translated to the silver screen. For every THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, there’s a dozen LAWNMOER MEN.
CREEPSHOW is actually more of a reverse adaptation, though. While two of the stories (“The Crate” and “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill”) are taken from short stories King wrote, the rest of the film was written specifically for the big screen. It was later translated into a genuine, honest-to-god comic book though — illustrated by hero to horror fans everywhere Bernie Wrightson. The film takes its comic book inspiration to heart. Utilizing everything from a super bright color palate to multi-panel framing techniques to actual animated sequences, CREEPSHOW really tried to sell its faux comic book origins. In a summer of comic book movies, it’s only appropriate that we watch CREEPSHOW.
There’s another, far more appropriate reason, we’re watching CREEPSHOW this weekend, though. It is, after all, Father’s Day weekend …. and I want my Father’s Day cake.
For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure of watching CREEPSHOW, the first segment of the film is titled “Father’s Day” and features a particularly nasty story of undead revenge all centered around one father’s insatiable sweet tooth. Keep an eye out for an appearance by an old friend to George A. Romero, Ed Harris. The year before CREEPSHOW was released, Harris and Romero had teamed up for the “Knights of the Round Table on motorcycles” film KNIGHTRIDERS. Harris would later go on to make an appearance in the television mini-series adaptation of THE STAND.
And because we’d hate to have you bash in our heads with an ash tray because you didn’t get your Father’s Day cake, we’ll be serving mini-cakes to all those who attend Saturday’s screening.
The Father’s Day theme doesn’t just end with the first segment, though. The whole film is practically a tribute to dear old dad. CREEPSHOW is full of advice your father would tell you — respect your elders, don’t touch strange meteors, don’t sleep around with married women, conduct your business ethically and don’t, whatever you do, marry Adrienne Barbeau — no matter how hot she might have been in the ‘80s.
The framing sequence even features Stephen King’s son and current horror novelist Joe Hill as a young boy who gets a thrashing — both physical and verbal — from his dear old dad, played by Tom “Thrill Me” Atkins.
As an added bonus, CREEPSHOW stars the man many comedy nerds would have loved to have been their own dad — Leslie Nielsen. God rest his soul, Nielsen plays a complete departure from the comedic roles that would later go on to define his career. In “Something To Tide You Over,” he takes revenge on an impossibly young Ted Danson, and actually manages to be quite sinister in his performance.
A part of me hopes Nielsen isn’t really dead after all — just holding his breath for a long, long time.
In an interesting bit of trivia for you, Nielsen’s AIRPLANE co-star Robert Hayes would also star in a horror anthology film based on Stephen King stories — CAT’S EYE. The segment Hays stars in is also, coincidently, about a man who takes revenge on the guy his wife has been cheating on him with. Am I alone in thinking it’s not too late for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to complete the trilogy — he did also appear in THE STAND, after all.
CREEPSHOW also stars Hal Holbrook and E.G. Marshall. And don’t miss a cameo from Tom Savini, the make-up artist responsible for this film’s stellar display of gore and gross-out effects.
Here’s another bit of trivia for you: CREEPSHOW is responsible for one of the best television shows of the ‘80s — TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE. After the success of the film, Romero was approached to turn CREEPSHOW into a television series. TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE is the result. Besides the television show, there was also a sequel to CREEPSHOW produced. A bit uneven, the movie does have some very memorable scenes and “The Raft” segment is a top-notch example of horror in film — worthy of any serious discussion of top King adaptations. And yes, there was a CREEPSHOW 3 but the less said about that, the better.
As a gift to all you Houston horror fans, we've got three opportunities to win tickets to Creepshow. Ain't It Cool News is giving away a pair. Columnist Alan Cerny will also be on hand to help introduce the film. In addition, the Houston Examiner is also giving away a pair but you better hurry. Finally, if you RSVP to our Facebook event page, you'll enter your name into a drawing for our final pair.
As with any Graveyard Shift screening, we’ll have an assortment of games and prizes to kick the evening off with.
Make sure you bone up on your Stephen King factoids because we’ll have our first game of Trivia of the Dead, a monthly trivia competition where the winner will walk home with an amazing prize bag donated by FEARnet and the chance to compete in a Tournament of Champions later in the year.
Besides the FEARnet swag bag, we’ll also have a complete set of CREEPSHOW prints from artist superstar Alex Pardee, several long out-of-print CREEPSHOW t-shirts from Rotten Cotton, and some great Alamo merchandise that we’ll be raffling off.
Make no bone about it; if you’re a horror fan in Houston, you don’t want to miss this Saturday’s maiden voyage of The Graveyard Shift. Buy your tickets early because this screening has a high chance of selling out and we would hate for you to be left spending the night alone in your apartment high-rise with a million of your closest cockroach friends. Speaking of bugs, mark your calendar for July 16, the date of our next installment of The Graveyard Shift. We’ll be celebrating the 25th anniversary of David Cronenberg’s horror classic, The Fly with a special screening.