It is an interesting time for horror fans, there’s quite a selection of places to watch the genre we all crave, from the customary DVDs and Blu-rays, to the explosion on the VOD markets, among them Amazon Prime, Netflix, to the smaller ones such as Tubi and Vudu, but one can’t omit the independents which include Full Moon and Shudder. As many already know Shudder is growing sharpening their claws and flashing those dazzling vicious teeth, when they expanded past merely showing movies, an creating original content namely Creepshow Season 1, which gets an official release on Blu-ray in June of 2020. This review is not of just a few episodes, rather it encompasses the full season and the bonus materials show reading pleasure, but I’ll attempt to avoid numerous spoilers for those unaware or yet to see the finished production. Quite the contrary to many this is not a remake or reboot, revival yes, but this version is set for the small screen, and is limited to the rules or limitations of mere cable television rather the streaming service Shudder; the previous creation were both films, therefore it develops something different in the Creepshow universe.
However, before diving into this Season One, it appears reading numerous forums that there’s a group on younger fans thoroughly confused this all originates from a film of the same name from 1982, therefore why not take the time to revisit briefly that creation, as many parts of this small screen series that relates to it. When looking back there’s likely a few fond memories one has of the anthology movie, as it was a collaboration between George A. Romero and legendary horror author Stephen King for myself the stories I liked most were “Father’s Day,” “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill” and of course “The Crate” three out five not a bad selection. Of course, this movie contained inspiration from the horror comics of the 1950s, which gave birth to a new wave fans collecting them, especially the animation added into the movie the comic panels to convey the storytelling, all now incorporated into the latest version. It even led to a documentary about the film called Just Desserts, which was very informative and must for the dedicated fans of this adventure, as well as the trade design comic book and the Waxwork Records vinyl soundtrack, it all shows how ripe this avenue is for all. As those stories contained moralistic story points, the ones of today do the same, with upped ante of gory, gooey gross tales to entice the viewer.
A little background is required before proceeding forward, the show creator, who wore multiple hats for this to come together was none other than Greg Nicotero (Creepshow 2 ), he and Shudder worked to make the new anthology horror series. In in many interviews he noted “that it was truly the most difficult and actually thoroughly ambitious task, as it need to live-up to reputation of the original movie… [a homage to Romero] …the project had the conceptual design of six episodes but he abandoned that for a more changeling route 12 stories (two told back-to-back each week).” That of equal hellish work weeks, featuring new casts and production designs every four days, no easy mission.
The series opens as Creep, which is similar to The Cryptkeeper, except he doesn’t speak, often appearing as an animated character approaches a crate the same one from the original story The Crate in the Creepshow movie, opens to show several comic books with story titles on them, this leads to the first episode entitled “Gray Matter”. It’s a story that Stephen King penned in 1973 then published in the book Night Shift in 1978, it was adapted by Byron Willinger and Philip de Blasi, and directed by Nicortero, that is told from a teenager’s (Christopher Nathan) view point of his father’s alcoholic addiction and the monster he becomes in the end. Many discount this as a lesser work from King, however, this story foreshadows the author’s future in a strange manner, he had an intervention from family and friends about his own demons with alcohol in 1987. The story features shop owner Dixie (Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog ), who many recall starred in The Crate story from Creepshow (1982) and features Police Chief (Tobin Bell (Saw ) and his friend Doc (Giancarlo Esposito (Maximum Overdrive ) are all riding a storm while the surrounding town has evaluated. There’re three very interesting aspects to this segment first grisly makeup effects, followed by wonderful cinematography that features illumination from only one source a flashlight limiting the scope of sight and raising tension and lastly hints back to the “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill” story.
The second story of first episode segment, is called “House of the Head,” directed by John Harrison (Day of the Dead ) and works with author Josh Malerman (Bird Box ), that tells a story of a dollhouse where the family inside is terrorized as the owner a young girl Evie (Cailey Fleming) watches in horror of as it all unfolds. She creatively calls for help in the form of Police Officer and Shaman dollhouse figurines to aid in defense of the growing evil, but ends on whimper. The filming techniques of how to discover a world within a world of imagination, in addition we learn in the bonus material the house contains many references to a lengthy list of horror films. In the second episode the first tale is Bad Wolf Down involved the theme of a Nazi officer portrayed by Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator ) and werewolves that appear similar to The Howling (1981) and An American Werewolf in London (1981). While the secondary tale The Finger, written by David J. Schow, that stars DJ Qualls about a lonely guy and bonds with an alien creature by feeding off each other, the story reminds one of The Creeping Flesh (1973), just showing how much damage water can do to bones. Lydia Layne’s Better Half is the second story in episode four directed by Roxanne Benjamin (XX ) that Nicotero and Harrison wrote that clearly shows society’s blurred optics of business woman Lydia (Tricia Helfer (Bloodwork )) on the brink of taking her company public rewards a male employee a huge advancement and denies her lesbian lover the promotion, to keep control of their relationship and it leads to bloody results in body disposal via an elevator. The hardest element of this story again falls with production design and cinematography to create an elevator scene without it appearing too fake, one learns more in the bonus material section. As is true with any anthology or season series there’s at least one story that doesn’t measure up compared to the other stories, herein that’s Times Is Tough in Musky Holler its primary all gore without a story. The final stories found episode six, has Roxanne Benjamin’s Skincrawlers airing first, and it definitely get the gore-hounds heavily enthralled bring back memories of “They’re Creeping Up On You” from the Creepshow movie, this time around it’s trying to rid oneself of excessive weight, all thanks to leeches, but not everything goes accordingly. However for Dr. Sloan (Chad Michael Collins (Room 33 )) his new experiment becomes a gut-buster, and features Dana Gould in a fun role, this story reminds one the b-movie The Wasp Woman (1959). As for the tale “By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain,” it’s written by Joe Hill, Stephen King’s son and who starred as Billy in the opening and closing segments of the first Creepshow, and directed by Tom Savini who watched over Joe on that set long ago. It all makes for of wonderful wrap for the first season close-out, the re-teaming of these two talented men, which clearly about lake monster.
The bonus materials are filled with great interviews from the actors and actresses, as well as authors (so often they become an after-thought or overlooked completely) and as with the story episodes these too feature the comic panels that this series features to end the segments. Some of the standout interviews include actor and makeup effects, among other talents, Carey Jones, as he gives some background of himself and then about the creatures featured in the season one. Then actor Giancarlo spoke volumes on acting, the suspense and character drive attitudes one needs, and how he got started with his first speaking role in a Stephen King horror movie. I previously mentioned there quite a few easter eggs and some can be discovered through the bonus materials, hence another important reason to view everything in this package. Lastly, one can’t omit the segment from talented Robert draper who spoke about classic lighting and styles that Romero used in the first movie, and how Greg wanted to stay true to that, with homage scenes. He stated the hardest part was with quick set-up limited resources and several different directors wanting their own designs, but knew others since working as a cinematographer over 40-years. For example, director John Harrison previously worked on Tales from the Darkside (1990), and he knew what he liked and wanted by a few words, needless to say there’re plenty of informative technical details too.
So, where does this leave us, first if you’re fan of the series you’re all set to watch and purchase this Blu-ray (or DVD) the stories are not perfect, some hit others miss, but that’s common with a television or anthology style format. One thing that viewers learn is a mixture of laughter and screams of delight, and maybe a jump scare or two, the overall production doesn’t waste any time with excessive usage of Creep. For the most part, these stories have felt for the campfire tales of horror, giving a meaningful series of storytelling ready to enrapture your imagination and entertain you thoroughly with wicked delights.
Special features on the DVD and Blu-ray include:
- Cast and Crew Interviews
- Behind the Scenes Footage
- Creepshow Season 1 Easter Eggs Featurette
- Audio Commentaries with Cast and Crew
- Episode and Comic Art Photo Galleries
- Comic Art Booklet and more!
IMDb Rating: 7.1/10
Baron’s Rating: 7.0/10