Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Synapse Films - JUST DESSERTS on Blu-ray ""

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Synapse Films - JUST DESSERTS on Blu-ray

JUST DESSERTS: The Making of CREEPSHOW (2007; Michael Felsher)
I credit one of my favorite horror images off all-time to JUST DESSERTS. You've seen it - it's that picture of Stephen King behind the scenes on the movie. He's sitting in what I believe is Tom Savini's makeup chair and one of the rotting corpses from CREEPSHOW has a hand on King's shoulder. What I've always loved about this shot is the look of terror on King's face. Sure, it plays a little comedic, but there's also part of me that sees it as genuinely frightening. It's just neat to see this master of horror, who himself has frightened so many people over the years, showing that he can look pretty scared himself. When you look at the picture, you can almost hear him screaming. From the first time that I saw it, this shot has always made me like Stephen King even more. It demonstrates not only his love of horror and his sense of humor, but also illustrates his love of movies and movie making as well.
CREEPSHOW was one of those films that showed on HBO constantly when I was a kid. For most of my childhood, we didn't have HBO, but we'd get it on the "free" weekends and I remember ravenously tearing into the HBO guide to see what movies I could take in or tape during our short window of viewership. CREEPSHOW was a staple though for sure. It was also obligatory on VHS in any horror section of any video store I walked into when I was a teenager. The Warner Brothers clamshell cover never ceased to catch my attention whenever I passed by it.

CREEPSHOW was one of the first Horror Anthologies I ever saw and it kind of hooked me immediately. It was a gateway for me to things on TV like Tales from the Crypt and Tales from the Darkside as well as other anthology films like DEAD OF NIGHT(1945), FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM, CAT'S EYE and TRILOGY OF TERROR. CREEPSHOW just had this sense of 'you shouldn't be watching this' that really drew me in. The opening bit with the dad throwing out his son's horror comics was something I guess I could relate to. Not that I read horror comics exactly(though I always wished I'd gotten my hands on some E.C. comics as they looked amazing), but I did read comics and watched junky movies that my parents didn't always approve of. It was just a neat way into the movie for me. As if the film itself was saying "Pssst, hey kid - come over hear and let me tell you some stories your folks wouldn't want you to hear...".
Each of the stories in CREEPSHOW is memorable in some way. Though I often combined "Father's Day" and "Something To Tide You Over" in my head a little, they were both disturbing. And Stephen King's portrayal of the titular Jordy Varrill(in "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Varrill),as over the top and cartoonish as his performance was, always made me deeply sad. I remember connecting with a few people over that exact point too years later. And who could forget the cockroaches crawling out of that guy's mouth in "They're Creeping Up On You!". That was a truly haunting image that has stuck with me to this day(along with the image of the woman getting pulled into the computer in SUPERMAN III). The story that most stood out to me at the time(and still does to this day) was of course, "The Crate" with Hal Holbrook and Adrienne Barbeau. I think it was this short that finally hit home the idea that horror could be funny and that horror and comedy were actually really intertwined in this interesting way. I had felt moments early on in the film where I felt like I should be laughing, but it felt so strange to do so. I had seen some shrewish wife type characters in other films but Adrienne Barbeau really outdid them all. In those other films, the shrewish wife was never killed horribly though! That was the thing that kind of made me have this feeling of there being something funny about killing a character like that. It was this sort of wish fulfillment for the Holbrook character in the movie and it was oddly cathartic for me too. It made me think of every time I had ever encountered a person who condescendingly began to lecture me about this or that and I had to just grin and bear it. If only I could have thrown all those people into a box with a man-eating ape creature! I just loved the way this story was told and how it played out. Still one of my favorite horror stories ever.

JUST DESSERTS is a great watch in that it adds this whole other layer to my enjoyment of CREEPSHOW. It really gives a sense of the fun that all involved had making the movie. It also shows how the filmmaking and the approach to story was serious whilst being seriously tongue in cheek as well. Interviews with George A. Romero and Tom Savini make up a good deal of the spine of the movie. They speak about each of the story segments in CREEPSHOW and the actors they worked with in them. Savini goes into detail about how he did much of the effects work in each part of the movie.  Actors like Ed Harris, Adrienne Barbeau and Tom Atkins all get interviewed for the doc as well. The main missing presence is Stephen King himself, but despite that, it is still a really solid making of.

Special Features:
Synapse has put together a nice special edition package here. You get multiple commentaries and interviews above and beyond what's in the documentary. Check out all these lovely supplements:

-Audio Commentary with Director & Editor Michael Felsher
-Audio Commentary featuring interviews with Actor John Amplas, Property Master Bruce -Alan Miller, and Make-Up Effects Assistant Darryl Ferrucci.
-Creepshow Days – An interview with Director of Photography Director Michael Gornick
-Extended Interview Segments with George A. Romero, Tom Savini, and Bernie Wrightson

-Behind The Screams – A compilation of on-set video footage from Tom Savini
-Horror’s Hallowed Grounds with Sean Clark
-Scream Greats Volume One: Tom Savini, Master of Horror Effects with Optional Audio Commentary with Tom Savini.
-Vintage 1982 Evening Magazine Segment shot on the set of the film, featuring rare cast & crew interviews.

JUST DESSERTS can be purchased on Amazon here:


Greg Wilcox said...

Great review! As soon as I saw this was coming out (about two weeks ago) and that it was from Red Shirt, I'd say it was the FASTEST (and first) pre-order I'd ever made.

Unknown said...

LOL. I was terrified of that scene in Superman 3. 1 of the big 3 of my young life; melting nazis in Raiders, Zelda in Pet Semetary and wire-woman in Superman 3.

C Chaka said...

Creepshow has the secret ingredient of making a great horror comedy, danger. There has to be the danger that something truly horrible can happen at any moment. It makes the humor both an exhilarating tension release and a reminder that you aren't safe yet. If you don't have the danger, it's just a parody. Creepshow, Return of the Living Dead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, and Evil Dead 2 are perfect examples of this.