A young boy named Billy gets disciplined by his father, Stan, for reading a horror comic titled Creepshow. After swiping the comic from Billy and throwing it in the garbage, Stan reminds his wife that he has to be hard on Billy because he does not want their son to be reading it, calling it “horror crap”. As Billy sits upstairs, wishing that his father rots in Hell, he hears a sound at the window. The source of the noise turns out to be The Creep, the host of the comic book, beckoning him to come closer.
The first story, “Father’s Day,” is an original story by King written for the film. Nathan Grantham, the miserly old patriarch of a family whose fortune was made through bootlegging, fraud, extortion and murder-for-hire, is killed on Father’s Day by his long-suffering spinster daughter Bedelia. Bedelia was already unstable as the result of a lifetime spent putting up with her father’s incessant demands and emotional abuse, which culminated in his orchestrating the murder of her sweetheart, Peter.
The sequence begins in 1979 when the remainder of Nathan’s descendants—including Nathan’s granddaughter Sylvia, his great-grandchildren Richard, Cass, and Cass’s husband Hank—get together for their annual dinner on the third Sunday in June.
Bedelia arrives and stops in the cemetery outside the family house to lay a flower at the grave site. There, she drunkenly reminisces about how she murdered her overbearing father. After she accidentally spills her whiskey bottle in front of the headstone, Nathan’s putrefied, maggot-infested corpse emerges from the burial plot in the form of a revenant who has come back to claim the Father’s Day cake he never got. Grantham slowly avenges himself on Bedelia and the rest of his scheming heirs, killing them off one by one before finally attaining his Father’s Day cake, topped with Sylvia’s severed head.
While the ending is left ambiguous in the film, with Nathan gloating over a terrified Cass and Richard in freeze-frame, the comic book based on the film gives a vague hint that Nathan’s next act was to “blow out their candles.”
“The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill”
This section of the film is based on King’s short story “Weeds”. Jordy Verrill (played by King himself), a dimwitted backwoods yokel, thinks that a meteorite landing near his farm will provide enough money from the local college to pay off his $200 bank loan. As the meteorite is too hot to touch, he douses it with water, causing it to crack open and spill a glowing blue substance that comes into contact with his skin before soaking into the earth. He then finds himself being overcome by a rapidly spreading plant-like organism that starts to grow on Jordy himself, the house and everything he has touched.
In a panic Jordy pours himself a bottle of vodka, and he falls asleep in a drunken stupor. He wakes, believing it to have been a dream but sees in a mirror that he has now grown a beard of weeds. He starts to take a bath, and he is cautioned by the ghost of his father that the plant wants water and to not get in the tub. But when the itching from the growth on his skin becomes unbearable, he succumbs to temptation and collapses into the bathwater.
By the next morning, Jordy and his farm have been completely covered with dense layers of the alien vegetation. In despair, he reaches for a shotgun and blows the top of his head off, thus killing himself. A radio weather forecast announces that heavy rains are predicted, the implication being that this will accelerate the spread of the extraterrestrial plant growth to surrounding areas.
“Something to Tide You Over”
Richard Vickers, a vicious, wealthy and ruthless man whose spry jocularity belies his cold-blooded murderousness, stages a terrible fate for his unfaithful wife, Becky, and her lover, Harry Wentworth, by separately luring them out to his secluded beach property and then, at gunpoint, burying them up to their necks below the high-tide line. He explains that they have a chance of survival—if they can hold their breath long enough for the sand to loosen once the seawater covers them, they could break free and escape.
Vickers sets up closed-circuit TV cameras so he can watch them die from the comfort of his well-appointed beach house. Looking directly into the camera, Harry vows vengeance. The next day, Richard returns to the spot he buried Harry and finds the ruined camera tripod, but no sign of Harry’s corpse. Later, the two lovers return as a pair of waterlogged, seaweed-covered revenants intent on revenge. Richard attempts to barricade himself in his bedroom, but they appear inside. He tries to shoot them, but the bullets have no effect. The couple tell Richard that they intend to do the same to him what he did to them. Richard finds himself buried in the beach, facing the approaching tide—and the sight of two sets of footprints disappearing into the surf. While the tide is rising, he laughs hysterically and screams: “I can hold my breath for a long time!”
Based on the short story “The Crate”. A college janitor, Mike, drops a quarter and finds a wooden storage crate marked “Arctic Expedition – June 19, 1834” hidden under a staircase. He notifies Dexter Stanley, a college professor, of the find. The two decide to open the crate and it is found to contain a multi-fanged ape-like creature (Darryl Ferrucci), which despite its diminutive size promptly kills and entirely devours Mike, leaving behind only his boot. Escaping, Stanley runs into a graduate student, Charlie Gereson, who is skeptical and investigates. The crate has been moved back under the stairs and Gereson is killed by the creature as he examines the crate. Stanley flees to inform his friend and colleague at the university, the mild-mannered Professor Henry Northrup.
Stanley, now traumatized and hysterical, babbles to Northrup that the monster must be disposed of somehow. Northrup sees the creature as a way to rid himself of his perpetually drunk, obnoxious and emotionally abusive wife, Wilma, whom he often daydreams of killing. He contrives a scheme to lure her near the crate, where the beast does indeed maul and eat her. Northrup secures the beast back inside its crate, then drops it into a nearby lake, where it sinks to the bottom. He returns to assure Stanley that the creature is no more. However, it is subsequently revealed to the audience that the beast has escaped from its crate.
“They’re Creeping Up on You”
Upson Pratt is a cruel, ruthless businessman whose mysophobia has him living in a hermetically sealed apartment outfitted with electric locks and surveillance cameras. His apparent contacts with the outside world are through the telephone, where people call to denounce Pratt for ruining their families, and Mr. White, a put-upon employee who is made to run errands. During a thunderstorm, Mr. Pratt finds his flat becoming overrun by hordes of cockroaches, and a rolling blackout heads his way. As the situation rapidly becomes worse, he locks himself inside a panic room, only to find the cockroaches have already infested the room as well. With no way to escape, he is swarmed by the roaches, which induces a fatal heart attack. Later, as electricity returns to the building, Pratt’s corpse is shown in the panic room, now devoid of roaches. However, Pratt’s body soon begins to contort as roaches burst out of his mouth and body, re-enveloping the panic room. Mr. White calls in to report but gets no answer. He then says to himself, “What is the matter, Mr. Pratt, bugs got your tongue?”
The following morning, two garbage collectors find the Creepshow comic book in the trash. They look at the ads in the book for X-ray specs and a Charles Atlas bodybuilding course. They also see an advertisement for a voodoo doll but lament that the order form has already been redeemed. Inside the house, Stan complains of neck pain, which escalates and becomes deadly as Billy repeatedly and gleefully jabs the voodoo doll, causing his father to clutch his throat in pain as Billy finally gets revenge on his father for his past abuse.