Release Date(s)2007 (July 12, 2016)
Studio(s)Red Shirt Pictures/Synapse Films
- Film/Program Grade: A
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: A+
Just Desserts: The Making of Creepshow chronicles the genesis, making of, and eventual release of 1982’s Creepshow, directed by George A. Romero and written by Stephen King. However, it’s more than just a documentary; it’s the culmination of the time and love for a film carried out by one of today’s best Blu-ray and DVD producers and documentarians, Michael Felsher.
Unfortunately (as of this writing), the company that released Creepshow and hold the rights to it, Warner Bros., haven’t been overly enthusiastic about their catalogue of genre movies. Along with Creepshow, many of their genre titles sit languishing in their vaults. Some of these include The Changeling, Salem’s Lot, Altered States, and Innocent Blood, and to a lesser but no less important degree, deep cult favorites like Deadly Friend and Eyes of a Stranger. Genre movies like these with small but loyal fan bases have yet to be given their due on Blu-ray. And while it’s true that Creepshow is indeed available on Blu-ray, it features nothing more than the theatrical trailer as a supplement, which is where Michael Felsher comes in.
In 2007, the U.K. division of Universal Pictures (who owns the rights to the film there) approached Michael Felsher to carry out a proposed DVD release of the movie with some nice supplements to go along with it. Felsher took it upon himself to do the extras, as well as the documentary Just Desserts. It was released, along with the Blu-ray version later, but the extras never made their way onto disc outside of the U.K. Unhappy by Warner Bros.’ unwillingness to do anything special with the material, Felsher turned to the internet, crowdsourcing the funds necessary to get the main documentary released here in the U.S. With the funds required, as well as being picked up by Synapse Films, now the documentary has a chance to finally be seen stateside. Not only that, but I’m sure folks who didn’t own Creepshow on Blu-ray previously are bound to pick it up and keep it next to their Just Desserts Blu-ray. So, you’re welcome Warner Bros.
As you might expect, Just Desserts gets into the nitty gritty of the making the film, talking to all of the major players (aside from Stephen King, who usually doesn’t participate in these kinds of things). It features lots of outtakes, behind the scenes footage, and on-set photographs, but it also traces the relationship between Romero and King and how they would work together again down the road. Most of the main actors are also interviewed, including Tom Atkins and Adrienne Barbeau. All of the interviews are really informative, and despite the fact that it’s the usual talking heads sort, things are kept interesting visually with a colorful, comic book-like flair.
Creepshow is one of George A. Romero’s finest films, in terms of execution and final release. It’s one of those perfect Halloween movies that actually comes the closest to capturing the tone, the visual imagery, and the imagination of the old E.C. Comics, but in very fun and inventive ways. Whether it’s his best film or not is totally up for grabs, but with the combination of George, Stephen King, Tom Savini, many of the major horror actors throughout the 1980’s, and lots of Romero regulars, it’s just a recipe for a good movie. The Just Desserts documentary not only chronicles it very well, but continues to show what strong filmmakers Michael Felsher and the folks at Red Shirt Pictures are.
As for Synapse Films’ Blu-ray transfer of the documentary, it’s quite excellent. Visual quality is not over the moon, but I didn’t expect it to be either. It’s intermingled with clips and photos of varying qualities, so not everything is pristine, but the interview segments look great. Colors are quite strong, and both brightness and contrast levels are more than satisfactory. There’s also some nice depth to the animated framing segments, as well. The only audio track available is an English 2.0 DTS-HD track, and like the visual quality, it’s well-realized without being totally perfect. All of the interviews are very clear and understandable, as is the score and sound from the clips that are shown. It’s mixed together very well without an emphasis on speaker-shifting activities, not that it requires it. It’s a strong and pleasing presentation, overall. Unfortunately, there are no subtitle options to choose from.
Besides the documentary itself, the other major star of this release is the extras, which are bountiful and amazing. First up is an audio commentary with director and editor Michael Felsher; another audio commentary, which features additional interview segments with actor John Amplas, property master Bruce Alan Miller, and make-up effects assistant Darryl Ferrucci; Creepshow Days, another additional interview with director of photography Michael Gornick; a set of extended interviews from the main feature with George A. Romero, Tom Savini, and Bernie Wrightson; Behind The Screams, a compilation of on-set video footage from Tom Savini; a Horror’s Hallowed Grounds segment with Sean Clark; the fantastic (and my personal favorite extra of the lot) Scream Greats Volume One: Tom Savini, Master of Horror Effects, which includes optional audio commentary with Tom Savini; a vintage 1982 Evening Magazine segment shot on the set of the film, featuring rare cast and crew interviews; a Behind-The-Scenes of Creepshow photo gallery; and a Synapse product catalogue insert booklet. And if you supported the Michael Felsher’s Indiegogo campaign, you also got a poster of the main artwork, a thank you letter from Felsher himself, and an insert booklet with photos and notes from both Felsher and John Harrison, as well as some review quotes.
To say that Just Desserts: The Making of Creepshow on Blu-ray here in the U.S. is a home run would be an understatement. It’s one of the most wanted picks for many horror fans who didn’t want to go to the trouble of acquiring a region free player in order to see it. Not only that, but now that release has been trumped here in the states, in my opinion. It’s top notch all around, and just having the Scream Greats mini-doc as an extra makes me happy. I can now safely retire my original VHS copy of it. This is definitely a must-buy. Highly recommended.
- Tim Salmons