The Renaissance Fair bikers of Knightriders held on to the '70s; the anthology format (later of Twilight Zone: The Movie) brings George A. Romero into the '80s. Indeed, the opening is faux-Spielbergian suburbia, only here the boy wishes the father dead after his "horror crap" comic book is thrown away, then smiles to welcome the cloaked skeleton levitating outside the window. On to the quintet of stories, vintage pulp horrors reheated by Stephen King, who also contributes cartoon thesping as a hayseed in overalls who develops a doomed green thumb after touching the meteor that comes crashing into his backyard, cretinous ambition turned musty by interplanetary retribution. Before that, the movie's otherworldly vengeance template is set by Viveca Lindfors' bravura cursing beside a murdered paterfamilias' tombstone, until the rotting corpse crawls out, demanding cake -- Romero's Gothic lies within the family, a monstrous patriarch returning to lay waste to a nest of inheritance-vultures. Sin is punished, or at least answered in kind: thus, cheerfully sadistic Leslie Nielsen buries Ted Danson, his wife's lover, up to his neck in sand as the tide comes in, to be visited later that night by seaweed-covered zombies. Later on, emasculated professor Hal Holbrook tags behind loudmouth harpy Adrienne Barbeau, shooting a bull's eye between her eyes at a party, much to the guests' applause, before waking back to reality; chance (and liberal gore spillage) comes in the shape of a saber-toothed ape-thing discovered in an ancient crate by buddy Fritz Weaver. The creepy-crawlies provide the final stinger, an antiseptic office suddenly overrun by Nature and E.G. Marshall's puckish one-man-show set up against the invading army of cockroaches. Color design and compositions evoke E.C. editions (the split-screen divides frames into panels), although Romero's leap into the commercial arena retains its sardonic morality and politics at home, revolt as pins on a voodoo doll. With Carrie Nye, Ed Harris, Tom Atkins, Gaylen Ross, and Warner Shook.
--- Fernando F. Croce