Creepshow Was George Romero's Chance To Pay Homage To His Childhood

It's not shocking that "Creepshow" is arguably the golden standard of horror anthologies, considering that it crawled out of the minds of horror legends George A. Romero and Stephen King. The duo found that they had a shared love of the EC Comics line of horror stories from the early 1950s that the two grew up reading. These consisted of "Tales from the Crypt," which was adapted into a television show in 1989, as well as "The Vault of Horror" and "The Haunt of Fear."

To Romero, King, and every other horror geek who read EC, the introduction of the Comics Code Authority (CCA) in 1954 signaled a tragic blow for American comic books. Born out of Senate hearings centered around youth crime, the CCA directly targeted horror material, although it also impacted EC's science-fiction, crime, and war comics. Any material depicting "scenes of horror," "gory or gruesome crimes," or "lurid, unsavory gruesome illustrations," as well as subjects like the "walking dead," "vampires," ghouls," and "werewolfism," failed to pass CCA muster. Distributors often chose to avoid stocking their shelves with publications that violated these regulations, permanently damaging EC's market. Alas, the comedic "Mad" magazine was the only survivor amongst these casualties. "Creepshow," however, resurrected EC's horror comics as if conjuring a zombie from the grave.

Ghoulish glee

In the tradition of EC Comics, "Creepshow" was all about nasty, terrible people paying nastily and terribly for their behavior. People often murdered their relatives for inheritance money, their spouses out of jealousy, or anybody else out of greed, anger, and general selfishness, while their victims returned from the dead to enact revenge as rotting corpses. Grifters, conmen, and thieves met grisly demises, often in ways so symbolic of their crimes that it was blackly humorous. The comedic angle of the horror lent a fun, campy feel to these stories, which is what inspired the tone of "Creepshow," as Romero explained to Electric Sheep:

"I always thought the bad guys got their comeuppance, good basically triumphed over evil, even though the Crypt Keeper [the "host" of these stories] always was there to chuckle, and there's that dark humor ... It's funny, the humor was an important part of those comics. Even though it's so hard to convince people today that humour is the flipside of the same coin as horror –- they don't like to mix it."

The director points out the irony inherent in the CCA disapproving the original EC horror comics. One of the original rules of the code was ensuring that "In every instance, good shall triumph over evil and the criminal punished for his misdeeds." Indeed, there's no punishment greater than the macabre just desserts found within the pages of EC Comics and throughout "Creepshow."