I was 10-years old when my dad bought our family’s first VCR. It was a Toshiba Betamax. November of 1984. It was the week of Thanksgiving, so our first movie rental was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. We had four days of food, sleeping in, and movie renting to look forward to. Our first two movie rentals were Strange Brew and Creepshow. When my mom asked my brother and I what movie we wanted to watch first there was no argument or second guessing. We both said Creepshow simultaneously. So with carryout pizza on our plate, we put in George Romero’s Creepshow and basked in state-of-the-art technology and Super Supreme with cheesy garlic bread.
I almost saw Creepshow at the Warsaw Drive-In in the summer of 1983, but the R-rating scared my parents away from taking me and my brother. My brother probably could’ve handled it as he was 14-years old. Me? I was only 8, so in retrospect it was probably a good parenting decision not to take me to see it the summer before 4th grade. Turns out even at the ripe old age of 10 Creepshow scared the absolute shit out of me, and I loved every minute of it.
I remember sitting on the love seat in my parents living room and being transfixed to the screen. Every episode of the Romero/King masterpiece kept me glued. From the birthday cake to the “I can hold my breath for a long time!” to “Meteor shit!” to that horrifying crate under the stairs to the old bastard and his bugs, I was mesmerized and horrified all in one fail swoop. The combination of Stephen King’s writing and Romero’s direction was the perfect introduction to R-rated horror for my developing brain. “The Crate” affected me the most. The student getting pulled into the crate gave me goosebumps. Of course, Hal Holbrook’s murderous fantasies about his abusive wife were great, but that creature slashing the college student’s face and the blood slowly seeping over his shirt as the beast pulled him up for dinner just completely gutted me. It’s a horror experience I’ll never forget.
So when I heard that Shudder was bringing Creepshow back as a series I wondered how they could capture that feeling again. How could they make something as visceral and entertaining as the Romero/King classic? Well, for one you bring in Greg Nicotero as showrunner. Nicotero was mentored under George Romero. Everything he’s learned he learned from the true master of horror(not throwing shade Mr. Carpenter, just stating facts.) Greg Nicotero has proven himself worthy of heading the return of one of the great horror anthologies and bringing it into the world of television. He’s been doing a pretty good job with some obscure show called The Walking Dead for some time now. Plus, his effects work is second to none.
So I figured I’d crack a couple beers and see if Shudder’s Creepshow holds up. Verdict? Hell yes.
I won’t go into details as I don’t want to spoil the fun for the rest of ya, but I will say that episode one is amazing. Each episode consists of two stories, hosted by the creep himself, in both puppet and animated form. It’s good to see him back, I have to say. The two episodes are Gray Matter and The House of the Head.
Gray Matter stars Tobin Bell, Giancarlo Esposito, and Adrienne Barbeau. During a hurricane, three locals sit in a store as the storm hits. A teenage boy arrives looking to buy his alcoholic dad a case of beer, only to break down and say his dad has “changed”. Two men decide to take the beer to the father as the boy stays back and tells his story to the owner of the store. Based on King’s short story from his Night Shift collection, it possesses all the tension, build up, and gore you expect from something included in Creepshow.
The House of the Head is about a young girl obsessed with the lives of her dolls in an oversized and “one-of-kind” dollhouse her dad bought for her. She creates a world for her dolls, which consists of a family of three(mom, dad, and son) as well as a family dog. But as the story progresses the dolls seem to have a life of their own and things get darker and more grim as the story unfolds. Brilliantly shot and tension-filled, The House of the Dead might be one of the great horror tales filmed in 2019.
I can’t say enough kind things about Creepshow. From the writing, direction, and acting these stories come to life in a brilliant way. Amazing practical effects, effective actors, and incredible cinematography, Creepshow elicits well-earned fear from us the viewers. The House of the Head is especially effective, and with so little. You won’t understand just how amazing this episode is until you watch it. Inanimate objects haven’t been this scary since the clown doll in Poltergeist.
As I sat and watched episode one I was reminded of staying up late as a kid and watching, not only the original Creepshow film, but Tales From The Darkside. Another George Romero classic, the anthology series worked to traumatize me as a kid. From the opening credits and the creepy narration to the well-written episodes and excellent direction, that show was like watching horror classic vignettes in 30-minute increments. My brother and I would stay up late on Saturday nights and watch it on channel 55 out of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I truly feel that Tales From The Darkside was my gateway into horror fandom. Each episode ending with the fateful words, “The dark side is always there, waiting for us to enter — waiting to enter us. Until next time, try to enjoy the daylight.” Those words left me cold and fearful of walking down a dark hallway to my bedroom. I loved every terrifying minute of it.
Shudder’s Creepshow harkens back to the classic tales of television horror; from The Twilight Zone to The Outer Limits to Night Gallery to Darkroom to Tales From The Darkside. If Creepshow keeps the promise it’s made with episode one, we’re in for one long dark night. And I can’t wait.
Episode one of Creepshow is available now only on Shudder. Head over to Shudder to watch, or sign up for a subscription so you don’t miss out on Creepshow and all the other incredible and horrifying things Shudder has to offer.