CREEPSHOW Review: Terrific And Traditional Start to New Anthology Horror Series on Shudder
Creepshow— A Shudder Original Series premieres this Thursday, September 26th. We got our gnarled hands on the first episode and can say that the horror anthology series is off to a very promising start.
It is inevitable that comparisons will be drawn to the original film so we went back to the 1982 flick after watching this first episode to see what has carried over and what improvements have been made since then. First impressions are that old was good and with some slight changes this show is better.
Structurally we think that to this new show's benefit splitting the hour run time evenly between two stories is the better way to go. Neither story in this first episode stretched the premise too far to fill a longer run time. Feelings about the original film are subjective but a couple of those stories went a bit long. Splitting each episode down the middle is perfect for this new show.
For the old school horror fans it is a joy to see The Creep done again with practical effects. It was also nice to see more practical effects in Gray Matter as well. Then there are the transitions done like comic book panels with those old style ad pages. It is all very traditional and keeping with the original film.
Anything else about this episode now gets into specifics so let us have a look at Gray Matter and The House of The Head.
After the death of a loved one, a drinking habit becomes insatiable.
The original story was from Stephen King way back in 1973, and was adapted by Byron Willinger and Philip de Blasi for this new series. If you do not know it already you could go back to King’s best-selling 1978 collection, Night Shift, if you really have to spoil the ending but we think you should wait until after.
Directed by long time makeup effects artist Greg Nicotero, he lends his years of expertise to the great practical effects as the horror ramps up at the end of the tale. Old school horror fans will love the practical effects in this first episode.
Gray Matter is your traditional classic anthology story. There is a story from a distraught character who slowly reveals the path that has led up to now. It builds anticipation through the story until the very end when the horror is unleashed. Nicotero also gives some clues, they lie in waiting, in the mise en scène. Episode writers Willinger and de Blasi also lead into the end of their tale in the character dialogue.
Horror icons Adrienne Barbeau - who starred in the original film - and Tobin Bell star along with Giancarlo Esposito.
“The House of the Head”
Dolls are Evie’s favorite companions, but when a severed toy head appears in her dollhouse, Evie can no longer protect them.
While Gray Matter follows the welcome but more traditional anthology story structure I like Josh Malerman's (Bird Box) story The House of Head a whole lot more, simply because of how it unfolds and is presented by director John Harrison. There is no waiting for the final moments, The House of the Head takes off from the start and delivers fun chills through to the end.
Better horror fans than I will let me know if it has happened before but traditionally if something is haunted and is brought inside a home then that home is subjected to terrors until the end. It is the item that is the gateway to horror. Here though, director John Harrison and Malerman have laser focus on the dollhouse and it is a whole lot of fun watching the story unfold within its tiny walls. Khudos to Harrison for telling this story within the confines of a doll house. We tip our hat to thee.
In summary, what was old was good, what is new is better. With this new Creepshow series off to a great start we think there will be a little something for fans of all horror tropes. The episode structure keeps the stories brisk and less need for filler. Episode writers and directors have to deliver the goods in this short time and so far the teams of Nicotero/Willinger/de Blasi and Harrison/Malerman have delivered good horror entertainment.
Creepshow's Gray Matter and The House of the Head premiere this Thursday on Shudder. New episodes stream each following week for six weeks.