CREEPSHOW is back and you can watch Season 1 on Shudder now. It’s a horror anthology series featuring 45-minute episodes. Also, the series is produced by Greg Nicotero of The Walking Dead. Read our full Season 1 Creepshow review – including bitesize reviews of each episode!
1982: A notable year in horror
1982 gave us The Thing, Poltergeist, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, and Creepshow. Sadly, I’ve seen only 1 film on that list (and yes, it’s Halloween III, which is the only reason I mention it; it was not good).
Unlike the Halloween franchise, which has, what, 200 installments, Creepshow has four (the original, its unsuccessful second and third films, and a pilot episode for a web series).
Until September 26, 2019. One of the more recent additions to the horror streaming service Shudder, the first season of Creepshow is comprised of six 45-minute episodes, with each episode telling 2 different tales of terror.
Creepshow is back…
Sadly, horror anthologies are starting to saturate an already-good market. I grew up with Are You Afraid of the Dark?, and then came (to name a few) VHS, Into the Dark, Slasher, Holidays, American Horror Story, and, probably my favorite, Darknet. But, unlike these, the original Creepshow was a horror comedy. So, maybe this remade anthology has something fresh to offer.
… and mostly worth watching!
As with any anthology series, there are exceptional highs (House of the Head, By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain) and the regrettable lows (Bad Wolf Down, Times is Tough in Musky Holler). There was little in the way of well-executed comedy (except for The Finger), but this series did maintain its low-budget charm, which mostly worked.
In accordance with the horror-comic book-inspiration of Creepshow (1982), some storyline was conveyed as comic book panel (which was oddly delightful). However, with a low budget comes the absence of anticipated horror-reveals, which were more desired in the earlier episodes.
Watch Creepshow on Shudder!
Recently renewed for a second season, Creepshow is worth the watch. The Shudder community agrees, with all but two reviewers giving the series 5 stars. At a total runtime of 4.4 hours, there are some skippable installments (see short reviews of each story below), which make the other episodes seem that much better in comparison.
As a series, Creepshow gets 5 stars, but, sadly, in an anthology series, the whole is not greater than the sum of its parts, so Creepshow deserves 4 stars here. Happy viewing!
Creepshow – Individual episode reviews
Episode 1: Gray Matter
Directed by Greg Nicotero, Written by Byron Willinger and Philip de Blasi, Based on a short story by Stephen King
Synopsis: “After the death of a loved one, a drinking habit becomes insatiable”
Review: Tobin Bell (Saw) is a supporting actor in this interesting horror-based portrayal of alcoholism’s deterioration of a family, reminiscent of how Contracted uniquely added to the zombie genre. However, the main character (“Timmy”, played by Christopher Nathan) looks just like Jaeden Martell (“Bill” in the 2017 It adaptation) and wears a yellow raincoat (like Georgie, Bill’s brother), a potential yet overly blatant King tribute. Despite assuming the role that drives the story, Nathan was given a weak script.
Episode 1: House of the Head
Directed by John Harrison, Written by Josh Malerman
Synopsis: “Dolls are Evie’s favorite companions, but when a severed toy head appears in her dollhouse, Evie can no longer protect them”
Review: Josh Malerman, who’s making a name for himself in horror (Bird Box), introduces a strong premise that will remind Doctor Who fans of its fantastic episode, Blink. Cailey Fleming (“Evie”) was impressive in her brief role. Plus, who doesn’t love a story with a creepy, balding man selling children’s dollhouses?
Rating: 5 / 5
Episode 2: Bad Wolf Down
Written and directed by Rob Schrab
Synopsis: “A platoon of American soldiers finds something more sinister than war behind enemy lines”
Review: This war-set story’s title is a parody of the war film Black Hawk Down. Its story is reminiscent of the 2007 horror film 30 Days of Night. Both movies starred Josh Hartnett, which makes for an eerie coincidence that is more interesting to ponder than Bad Wolf Down is to watch. Excessively campy with a cringeworthy screenplay. Maybe it was supposed to be funny?
Rating: 1 / 5
Episode 2: The Finger
Directed by Greg Nicotero, Written by David J. Schow
Synopsis: “A man with a passion for found objects finds something particularly odd: a finger… and it’s growing”
Review: The main character (“Clark”) is played by DJ Qualls, a very underrated actor (Z Nation, The Man in the High Castle). Dryly comedic throughout (but maybe 3 minutes too long), it charmingly breaks the 4th wall and subtly concludes with a thought-provoking question akin to The Babadook: Is the monster simply a symbolic manifestation of a fractured mind?
Rating: 4 / 5
Episode 3: All Hallows Eve
Directed by John Harrison, Written by Bruce Jones
Synopsis: “Teens go trick-or-treating, but they aren’t met with smiles and sweets”
Review: Well-paced with spooky undertones, All Hallows Eve is too similar to American Horror Story: Murder House and the 2016 film Boys in the Trees, ultimately being too short to feel like its own story. It could make for a good feature film.
Rating: 3 / 5
Episode 3: The Man in the Suitcase
Directed by David Bruckner, Written by Christopher Buehlman
Synopsis: “Justin brings home the wrong suitcase, and finds a man who spits out gold coins when he is in pain stuffed inside”
Review: Inventively incorporates an “ancient evil” that is under-utilized in American horror, while also strangely capturing the real fear of taking home the wrong luggage from the airport. In lieu of the Milgram’s and Zimbardo’s famous experiments, The Man in the Suitcase does well to ask, “What, who, and where is the actual evil in this world?” Points deducted for weak and unnecessary CGI.
Rating: 4 / 5
Episode 4: The Companion
Directed by David Bruckner, Written by Matt Venne; Based on the short story by Joe, Kasey, and Keith Lansdale
Synopsis: “Harry stumbles upon an old scarecrow and brings it to life”
Review: Despite an opening scene that seems directly lifted from the rock-throwing fight in It and that the main character (“Harold”, who brings the scarecrow to life) has the same name as the scarecrow who comes to life in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Companion’s abandoned farm, monstrous scarecrow, and lonely farmer’s desperation weaves a short, interesting story about confronting grief by any means necessary. Despite the hope that Harold’s outlook had matured, the vengeful ending falls childishly flat, with much to be desired.
Rating: 3 / 5
Episode 4: Lydia Layne’s Better Half
Directed by Roxanne Benjamin, Written by John Harrison, Story by Greg Nicotero and John Harrison
Synopsis: “Lydia kills her lover and needs to hide the evidence… but after an earthquake, she gets trapped inside an elevator with the body”
Review: An “elevator” setting just seems to work in the horror genre (see M. Night Shyamalan’s Devil and Hulu’s Down). And it did so here, too, the first truly creepy tale in the series. Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica) captivates as “Lydia”. A flurry of jump scares parallels an eerie undercurrent, leaving the viewer to question the consequences of their personal ambitions. Minor points deducted for an anticlimactic finale.
Rating: 4 / 5
Episode 5: Night of the Paw
Directed by John Harrison, Written by John Esposito
Synopsis: “A killer gets stranded in a funeral home with a mortician and a monkey paw”
Review: With elements that will remind the viewer of Tusk and the Season 5 Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, “Forever”, Paw’s first and second act is enticing, altogether led by a strong performance by Bruce Davison (Longtime Companion, X-Men). Sadly, in a story driven by conversation, mystery, and fate, the performance of his co-star (Hannah Barefoot) pales in comparison. Be careful what you wish for.
Rating: 3 / 5
Episode 5: Times is Tough in Musky Holler
Directed by John Harrison, Written by John Skipp and Dori Miller
Synopsis: “Former Mayor Barkley is in prison, and with his loyal supporters locked up too, his odds don’t look good”
Review: The casting of David Arquette (Scream franchise) was wasted in this story of revenge that is without substance and depth in storytelling. While the method of revenge was creative, the screenplay was painstaking and cliched. Even the most arrogant of politicians don’t use their middle initial that much when referring to themselves in the third person (“LESTER M. BARKLEY”).
Rating: 2 / 5
Episode 6: Skincrawlers
Directed by Roxanne Benjamin, Written by Paul Dini & Stephen Langford
Synopsis: “Dr. Sloan discovers a cure to weight loss in a rare fat-sucking leech”
Review: An intriguing, topical premise is undercut by relatively poor execution. Appropriately gory and campy, Skincrawlers had a bright opportunity to uniquely expand the parasitic horror subgenre but resorted to the typical plot devices we’ve already seen in well-done films like Slither and The Bay. On a positive note, to paraphrase the ABC sitcom Happy Endings, the lead actor (Dana Gould) fascinatingly looks like a Mark Ruffalo who gave up.
Rating: 3 / 5
Episode 6: By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain
Directed by Tom Savini, Teleplay by Jason Ciaramella, Based on the short story by Joe Hill
Synopsis: “Rose believes she found Champ, the legendary monster of Lake Champlain, but the real monster may still be out there”
Review: While Lake Champlain is inherently creepy, the real terror is at home, as Rose and her family struggle with an abusive stepfather, played brilliantly by James Devoti. Joe Hill’s story does well to reconceptualize the “monster” living in the depths of the lake, while also capturing the meaning and value of family.
Rating: 5 / 5
The fictional Creepshow comic books come to life in this anthology series of terrifying tales hosted by the silent Creepshow ghoul.
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