A young boy is barred from reading his favourite horror comic, but when the book’s narrator, the Creep, comes to his window, he hears the tales anyway…
It may not be the finest movie adapted from the work of Stephen King – certainly not in The Shawshank Redemption, or Stand By Me class – but this is far from the “King movie of the week” that we suffered in the mid-1980s. It’s the product of two of the finest horror minds of their generation: George A. Romero and Stephen King.
Let’s get it out the way straightaway: King’s own performance in “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill” is embarrassing on multiple levels, although I’d challenge an Oscar-winner to come out of such a tale smelling too much of roses (or indeed any other vegetable matter). Joe King (or Joe Hill as he is now known) does rather better as the young boy who’s apparently deprived of his reading material by his father. E.G. Marshall was willing to share screen time with 22,000 cockroaches for his segment (replacing Max von Sydow, the original casting), and Leslie Neilsen is midway between his serious film acting and his Naked Gun persona .
It’s unashamedly an anthology film: the five stories have little in common, except their ability to gross you out. They’re a true homage to the EC Comics of the 1950s – if you can find the Berni Wrightson comicbook adaptation, it’s well worth the money, with the French edition treating the art beautifully. It’s also got King stories in which aren’t easily available elsewhere: both “The Lonesome Death…” and “The Crate” are based on previously published short stories, but at the moment neither is in any of King’s collections. The other three tales are original to the film. There’s a great deal of black humour – more than the filmmakers intended, apparently, since they thought they were shooting a serious scare-the-shit-out-of-the-audience film.
It’s been given a great treatment as well: in addition to all the extra material included on the DVD release, there’s a further commentary which will fascinate fans of the genre – it’s with various people including the DOP Michael Gornick who for whatever reason weren’t available for the commentary/documentary back in 2007. It makes this pretty much the definitive version of the movie.
Verdict: A fun horror anthology with some fascinating extras. 8/10