Creepshow: Premiere Episode Review

The spooky spiritual continuation of the Creepshow brand has landed on Shudder, resurrected by Walking Dead EP and special effects makeup maestro Greg Nicotero (who mentored under Creepshow’s George Romero and Tom Savini), and, well, it’s fun!Is it scary? Not particularly, but then Creepshow was never about traveling deep into the heart of terror. It’s basically top-shelf schlock, all with a campy crust designed to evoke old EC horror comics. Oh, and notable names. Not A-List players, but stalwart, recognizable genre mainstays added to elevate the unease.

And as always with Creepshow, there’s no solid explanation for why the terrible things happen (usually to terrible people). No “ancient Mayan curse” or “someone pissed off a wizard” style of reasoning is provided. It may frustrate some, but it’s one of Creepshow’s hallmarks — the lack of true depth (meant in the best possible way, of course). An alcoholic dad can just, you know, turn into a grey mutating slush monster that can split apart and multiply to the point of causing an apocalypse. A child’s dollhouse can just come with a zombie head that runs (rolls?) amok and slaughters a plastic family. These things just are.

Creepshow: The Series Gallery

Nicotero, a huge fan of the 1982 anthology film, and the work done by Romero, Savini, and Stephen King, has found his perfect sandbox here. The first two episodes demonstrate a drive to honor the original format, tone, and look – with the first tale, “Gray Matter” (based on a King story), feeling like the most traditional type of Creepshow offering. Also, it’s loaded with so many King Easter eggs (Church the cat, Grady twins, someone named George saw something in the sewers, etc) that it plays out kind of like a warped Castle Rock stage play. There’s also a nod to Creepshow’s “The Crate,” which Nicotero has winked at before on an episode of The Walking Dead.

“Gray Matter” is loaded with more stars than the second chapter – like Giancarlo Esposito, Tobin Bell, and original Creepshow player Adrienne Barbeau – but it winds up being the lesser of the first two simply because the second story is so odd and unique. Still, “Gray Matter” stands as a cool combination of a campfire tale, monster hunt, and End Times tease. “The House of the Head,” however, is harrowingly hilarious, like a grotesque stab at “An Indian in the Cupboard.”

The Walking Dead’s Cailey Fleming (the best new part of that show’s past season) plays Evie, a little girl tormented by an icky addition to her giant dollhouse – a ghoulish head that changes locations every time she steps away. Evie also spots the faux family (The Smith-Smiths) in the house during frozen moments of horror, as the head slowly creeps into their lives and kills them. No actual characters die in “The House of the Head,” save for the poor figurines, but it all still works.

Creepshow is one of the more innocuous, “Why the hell not?” revivals of the streaming age (which has also recently seen Netflix spend millions of dollars and thousands of arduous labor hours on a full Dark Crystal prequel series). It’s a free-wheeling and easy fit for Shudder that, while not out for blood, is good for a chuckle and a jump.

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