Review: ‘Just Desserts: The Making of Creepshow’

JustDessertsCoverJust Desserts: The Making of Creepshow
Synapse Films (July 12, 2016)
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

In 1982, director George Romero and author Stephen King—horror royalty then and now—unleashed Creepshow, an anthology film born out of their mutual appreciation of 1950s horror comics. Realizing that capturing the unique look of those comics was going to be crucial to the movie’s success, they brought special effects superstar Tom Savini on board to help realize their vision. The result was a modest hit that has seen its stature grow among horror fans over time—enough so that its making-of documentary, Just Desserts, has become one of the most anticipated horror Blu-Ray releases of the summer.

Just Desserts began life as an extra on the 2007 UK DVD (and, later, Blu-Ray) release of Creepshow from Universal UK. Director/editor Michael Felsher originally pitched the idea to Warner Bros., the film’s U.S. distributor, but they turned it down. Felsher took the project overseas, and now Synapse Films is finally distributing it stateside. The wait was worth it—Just Desserts is as enjoyable a love letter to Creepshow  as Creepshow is to those long-ago horror comics.

The documentary begins with a discussion of those comics, EC Comics in particular, and the way their tongue-in-cheek approach to horror carried over to the stories in Creepshow. Artist Bernie Wrightson (who adapted King’s stories into an over-sized comic) is heavily featured in this segment, and its great to see pieces of his Creepshow art in a big, high-definition presentation. It’s one of the few things I’d say the documentary doesn’t haven enough of—I’d love to hear more about how he went about adapting the screenplay.

From there we jump straight into the filming of the movie. Felsher does a great job of balancing new interviews featuring participants from both sides of the camera with archival footage from the set. It’s amazing how much behind-the-scenes footage is available considering this movie was made well before the filmmaking process was routinely, obsessively documented for Blu-Ray extras and YouTube featurettes. Taken together, the interviews and footage paint a portrait of a project that was a true labor of love. Everybody was working their tails off to make this movie, but nobody seemed to mind. Savini, in ScreamGreatsCoverparticular, comes across as a guy who was having a blast making Creepshow, likening the process at one point to “five months of Halloween.” The movie was particularly important in helping Savini transition from the gore effects he’d become known for to doing more of the creature effects he’d been longing to do.

In addition to the terrific main feature, Just Desserts is loaded with high-quality extras. My favorites are “Tom Savini’s Behind the Screams,” a collection of raw, unvarnished footage from the set and Savini’s workshop that shows effects being designed, tested and executed; and “Scream Greats Vol. 1,” a nearly hour-long profile of Savini originally produced by Fangoria in 1986 for Paramount Home Video. “Scream Greats” goes in-depth on effects Savini produced for a number of horror touchstones, including Friday the 13thDawn of the Dead, Day of the DeadManiac, and many more.

The biggest thing missing from Just Desserts is Stephen King, an unfortunate omission (through no fault of Felsher, who tried to get the author involved) who could have added so much to the overall package. Still, it’s a credit to Felsher that the documentary works as well as it does even without the voice of one of its subject’s creators. Just Desserts is a great gift to the filmmakers who worked so hard to bring Creepshow to life, and a wonderful treat for fans who’ve been enjoying the fruits of their labor for the last 30-plus years.


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