SHUDDER aims to tease and please with their all-new original TV series “Creepshow”, an anthology series that began life on the big screen before descending into depressingly frustrating bargain bin territory with the unimaginable level of badness that was “Creepshow III”. Can SHUDDER save the dead franchise? Or will we be served another “Critters: A New Binge”?
“Creepshow” is back, and the only downside is it’s only available through the subscription service SHUDDER, which saw varying success from its last original series, “Critters: A New Binge”. The latest revamp on their hit list follows on from the 2006 bastard child that was “Creepshow III”, from directors, producers, co-writers Ana Clavell and James Dudelson, who are no strangers to in-name-only sequel rip-offs. Does anyone remember or care to remember “Day of the Dead 2: Contagium”? The latest “Creepshow” SHUDDER reboot was brought back from the dead by Greg Nicotero (“The Walking Dead”), who doubles up as the creator and the show runner. The new anthology series is made up of six episodes, and episode one premiered Thursday September 26th on the AMC-owned streaming service.
Once again the hooded figure The Creep returns along with his fictional “Creepshow” comic. The fictional comic of the same name provides the narrative framework for the series segments as it opens up each story from the illustrated panels in a style reminiscent of my friend Kevin S. Tenney’s “Night of The Demons” opening credits. Each episode features two 20-minute chapters, some written exclusively for the show, others being adaptations of existing short stories by Stephen King. King’s “Gray Matter” kicks off episode one’s first half and follows an alcoholic father’s slow decent into madness as he gradually mutates into something otherworldly. The second half is titled “The House of the Head” by Josh Malerman (“Bird Box”), which focuses on a little girl who discovers something unusual unfolding inside her dollhouse, a murder mystery with a killer head thrown in for good measure, or bad, depending how you look at it.
The show’s bonus points go to its masterful littering of Easter eggs to King’s works, which will no doubt be completely satisfying for Stephen King fans, who will get the fuzzy warm feeling of nostalgia when they are given their gory over-the-top quarter pounder to fill their lust for guts, but for non-King fans the crux of the matter is that the fries are cold, the beef dry, and the topping and the bun long past their sell-by date. Both segments troop out the same typical horror trappings that we have seen time and time again, and the complete absence of anything resembling frights makes the preceding feel amateurish. “The House of the Head” is the worst offender; it trundles along with no urgency for its running time while it tries to figure out when to be scary, when to be funny and when to be both.
“On a nostalgic level “Creepshow” round-house-kicks the competition out of the ring, but on an originality scale it fails miserably.”
BUT.... ....all in all, SHUDDER has certainly done enough to warrant a subscription. Scares aside, “Creepshow” contains enough gore for giggles to demand repeat viewing. While it does at times feel somewhat like a product of its budget restrictions and the individual segment twists are not as clever as they would like to think they are, it has that strangely welcoming feel you only get from a low rent follow-up or lesser sequel that makes it into your top five Halloween guilty pleasures.
To sound a bit old fashioned, had this been made in the 1980s I’d be mumbling under my breath, “They don’t make them like this anymore,” but as its not, I’ll let you decide if that’s a good or a bad thing.