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A Brief History of the Modern Horror Movie Anthology

For those who like their scares in segments.

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Creepshow
Creepshow

    When Creepshow hit theaters in 1982, it made an unexpected splash, raking in more than $20 million in sweet ‘80s coinage and going on to become Warner Brothers’ top-grossing horror film of the year. Of course, Creepshow wasn’t doing anything new — the horror anthology had been a part of cinema since the 1920s — but it definitely reinvigorated moviegoers’ interest in the form. As a result, a deluge of horror anthologies were released in the years immediately following Creepshow’s success.

    The 1980s became the heyday for modern horror movie anthologies, but by the time the ‘90s rolled around, public interest was waning — at least at the theaters. Though only a handful of notable anthologies were released on the silver screen during the next two decades, horror fiends could still get their fix on television, where shows such as Tales from the Crypt, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, and Masters of Horror prospered.

    However, within the past five years, the horror movie anthology has undergone a bit of a renaissance. A new group of directors has latched onto the genre, releasing modest hits such as V/H/S and The ABCs of Death. Perhaps they were buoyed by the form’s ability to showcase multiple voices on a low budget, or maybe they were just inspired by the anthologies of their youth. Either way, we’ve decided to trace the trajectory of the modern horror movie anthology from the 1980s until today. So buckle up and enjoy the strange, hypersegmented journey.

    Adriane Neuenschwander
    Staff Writer

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    Creepshow (1982)

    creepshow1 A Brief History of the Modern Horror Movie Anthology

    Number of Chapters: 5

    Theme: Two horror maestros, Stephen King and George A. Romero, join forces for the first time to tell this quintet of creepy, comic book-style tales. The theme is established in the film’s wraparound, where a boy is being punished by his father for reading too many trashy comics. As the kid sulks in his room, his favorite comic book character, The Creep, materializes at his window, ready to lead both the boy and the audience on a spooky journey.

    Best of the Bunch: “Father’s Day” is a gruesome story about a spinster who commits patricide on Father’s Day, only to have her maggot-infested dad come back from the grave for revenge. While most of Creepshow’s segments combine equal parts horror and comedy, “Father’s Day” plays its scares with the straightest face. Romero does a bang-up job of creating a comic book aesthetic, punctuating shadowy cinematography with bursts of bright, saturated color. Plus, ol’ Georgey gets to direct another story about zombies, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    Biggest Dud: Zilch. Horror nerds are no match for the one-two punch of Romero and King. —Adriane Neuenschwander

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