25th Sep2019

‘Creepshow: Episode 1′ Review (Shudder)

by Chris Cummings

GRAY MATTER
Story by Stephen King | Adapted by Byron Willinger and Philip de Blasi | Directed by Greg Nicotero

THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD
Written by Josh Malerman | Directed by John Harrison

creepshow-poster

All the way back in 1982, Stephen King and the late great George A. Romero colleborated on the first Creepshow film, an anthology-based homage to the horror comic books of the 1950s. It’s become a cult-classic, a film remembered fondly by most. It is, even all these years later, still a wonderful movie. 2019 sees Creepshow return, but this time as an anthology television show that will air on the horror streaming platform, Shudder. I was immediately excited about this, being a big fan of Creepshow (and Creepshow 2 for that matter), and had an opportunity to check out the very first episode of this brand-spanking-new series.

This new Creepshow will premiere on September 26th on Shudder and will feature six episodes, with two separate tales to be found in each of those episodes. We can thank Greg Nicotero, the famous special-effects guru who was trained by the legendary Tom Savini, who also directed a whole bunch of episodes of The Walking Dead, for bringing Creepshow back to the horror-verse. It’s a splendid idea, with horror fans, myself included, never willing to turn now a dash of nostalgia and a dollop of anthology horror. The series itself will feature an array of creepy tales from names such as John Skipp and Joe Hill, who is the real-life son of Stephen King and writer of excellent novels like Horns and Heart Shaped Box.

I was immediately struck and pleased and happy that Nicotero, known for his excellent SFX work, stuck to the very guns that Romero and King held tight to back in ’82, using practical horror effects and not resorting to digital. It’s something I love in horror, and seeing it here was something that I was overjoyed about. This revival sure does have a lot of work to do if it’s to live up to the original film, but I think the debut episode made a damn good start. The episode is introduced to us by a “horror host” called The Creep, not unlike the Crypt Keeper we know and love from the Tales from the Crypt days, and I personally enjoyed this aspect. It felt truly old-school and unflinchingly cheesy, full of that 50s comic aesthetic that the 1982 classic based itself upon.

The first story of the premiere episode is Gray Matter, based on a Stephen King short-story and directed by Nicotero himself, it’s a body-horror starring horror mainstay Tobin Bell (Saw) who is part of a pair of police officers investigating a fella who seems to have been transformed into something pretty hideous. It takes two perspectives and discusses addiction in a very gruesome manner. The latter tale, entitled The House of the Head, was penned by Bird Box author Kosh Malerman and directed by John Harrison (Tales from the Darkside: The Movie) who happened to have worked on the original Creepshow film as an assistant director, ironically. This story is a more light-hearted affair, and follows a little girl who has a dollhouse that seems to have a life of it’s own, with the dolls inside of it never staying in the places she’s put them in. It’s mysterious, creepy and a heck of a lot of fun. More on the fun-loving and comical side than the first story of the two, and I liked that. It separates things, in both plot and tone. Wonderful.

I don’t want to give anything away when it comes to the turns and twists or revelations that the stories in this first episode have to offer, so I’ll let you experience those for yourself when you check it out after it debuts on September 26th. There’s been plenty of clamouring for a Creepshow sequel or television vehicle for many years from horror fans and now we have it, right there in the flesh, and it kicks off with a great big fun-filled, gory and delightful bang. Keeping the comic-book style that we love from back in the day, this is in-keeping with the films yet also feels like its own thing, not exactly the same as the movies were, but instilled with many of the charms and traits they held. Full of top-notch special effects, these debut tales are packed with interesting concepts and I had an absolute rollicking time with this. If you’re a horror hound or merely just a fan of the Romero/King original, then I recommend checking out this new series when it kicks-off very soon. Man, I can’t wait for episode 2…

Creepshow will premiere on September 26th exclusively on Shudder.

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