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Just Desserts: The Making of
Blu-ray Disc Released: 7/12/2016
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/22/2016
I've been reviewing home video (beginning with DVDs and then moving on to Blu-ray Discs) for over 17 years. In that time, I have watched a lot of extra features. I mean A LOT. And I've found most of them to be completely useless, as the vast majority were made to promote the movie as opposed to enlightening the viewer about the movie or bringing us any sort of behind-the-scenes secrets. It has long since reached the point where I dread watching some special features. Having said that, imagine my surprised when I found myself confronted with reviewing a movie which is essentially an extra. But, that's the case with Just Desserts: The Making of Creepshow.
Creepshow, released in 1982, was an anthology horror movie directed by George Romero. The film featured five segments, all written by Stephen King, who also appears in one of the chapters. Inspired by the infamous EC Comics comic books from the 1950s, the stories feature monsters and ghouls, and most of them deliver a caustic character who gets their comeuppance. Following in the tradition of those classic stories, the movie offers a balance of gory horror and some dark humor. Some of the film was shot to resemble a comic book, as Romero utilized comic panels and garish colors. The movie was a minor hit, although some fans felt that the movie didn't live up to the promise of a film from two masters of horror.
Just Desserts is a very detailed, feature-length production which focuses on the making of Creepshow. The piece features interviews with Director George Romero, actors Adrienne Barbeau, Ed Harris, & Bingo O'Malley, Producer Richard P. Rubinstein, Composer John Harrison, Director of Photography Michael Gornick, Editor Pasquale Buba, Special Effects Make-up Artist Tom Savini, Grip Nick Tallo, Animator Rick Catizone, and Script Supervisor Joanne Shoe. While we hear mainly from Romero and Savini, each person is given ample time to chime in, with some who would probably be considered insignificant, such as the Grip, sharing detailed anecdotes about the production. The obvious absentee here is Stephen King. Given King's direct involvement with the film, both as a writer and an actor, not to mention his relationship with Romero, one would have expected him to be involved in this project in some capacity.
Director Michael Felsher, who has made many, many "making of" products, has divided the movie into different segments which focus on various aspects of the movie-making process. Through this, we learn about the origin of the project (King and Romero became friends and wanted to make something together), the cast and casting, the special make-up effects and some of the more interesting practical effects, and various secrets from the set. Again, some of these stories are very detailed (a lot of toilet paper was used in the movie) and even die-hard fans of the movie will most likely learn something here.
At the end of the day, Just Desserts: The Making of Creepshow is a somewhat odd piece. As with most projects from Red Shirt Pictures, those involved have really done their homework, digging up rare on-set footage and gathering a truly exhaustive group of individuals who were involved with the film. However, one can't shake the feeling that this is simply an extra in search of a Blu-ray Disc. The piece doesn't really give an overview of the movie itself, so it gives the impression of something which someone would watch having just viewed the movie. Was this meant to be on a release which never materialized? Fans of Creepshow will find something to like here, but casual viewers may not be that invested.
Just Desserts: The Making of Creepshow could have brought in a Stephen King puppet or something on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Synapse Films. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The movie is comprised of various video elements, including modern interviews, clips from the movie, on-set footage, and archival video. Overall, the video looks good, with the interviews being very sharp and clear. Some of the archival video shows some defects, but they are not connected to the transfer. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.0 Mbps. As one would hope, all of the speech comes through nice and clear here, so that we can hear all of the anecdotes. The clips provide clear dialogue, music, and sound effects.
The Just Desserts: The Making of Creepshow contains a surprising number of extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director and Editor Michael Felsher. This is followed by a second COMMENTARY from Actor John Amplas, Property Master Bruce Alan Miller, Make-up Effects Assistant Darryl Ferrucci. "Creepshow Days" (8 minutes) is an interview with Director of Photography Michael Gornick, who went on to direct Creepshow 2. "Tom Savini's Behind-the-Screams" (27 minutes) offers video from Savini's workshop and from the set showing how the special effects were created. "Extended Interview Segments" (24 minutes) brings us additional comments from those featured in the documentary. "Horror's Hallowed Grounds" (14 minutes) has host Sean Clark visiting some of the locations from the movie. "Vintage 1982 Evening Magazine Segment" (8 minutes) is a short piece from a TV show (which was called "P.M. Magazine" in my area) which focuses on the film. "Behind-the-Scenes Photo Gallery" contains many stills from the set and production. The last extra will be familiar to anyone who read Fangoria in the 80s, as the ad for "Scream Greats Volume One: Tom Savini, Master of Horror Effects" (53 minutes) appeared in every issue. This not only profiles Savini and contains clips from many of his movies, but has him explaining and demonstrating some of his most famous pieces. This can be viewed with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Savini.
Review Copyright 2016 by Mike Long