CREEPSHOW RESURRECTED! (Shudder….)

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Figure 1 – Original Creepshow poster

Who doesn’t love the original horror/comedy movie Creepshow, directed by George Romero and based on/written by Stephen King? This film, with two sequels, was King’s (and Romero’s) homage to the old EC Comics, like Tales From the Crypt, and was pretty successful. It consisted of five episodes linked by comic-book frames and a framing story of a young boy (King’s son, Joe) whose father hates the EC-comic-like “Creepshow” comics he’s always reading. The screenplay was written by King himself, and included adaptations of two published stories and three originals. In my opinion, both the adaptations were better than the original episodes, although my wife loves the first one (“Father’s Day,” starring Vivecal Lindfors, Ed Harris, and Carrie Nye). One of the adaptations (“The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verril,” adapted from King’s story “Weeds) featured King himself in his second “major” film role as the titular Verril, a man who learned, too late, not to mess with “meteor shit.” The second adaptation was “The Crate,” with Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, and Fritz Weaver; the other, less successful episodes (in my opinion, that is) were “Something to Tide You Over,” with Ted Danson and Leslie Nielson (some terrific overacting in this one), and “They’re Creeping Up on You,” with E.G. Marshall. (The latter two featured uncredited face/voice cameos by Richard Gere and Ned Beatty.)

Creepshow 2 was less successful, and though it, too, was based on Stephen King stories, was not directed by George Romero, although the latter wrote the screenplay. It was directed by the cinematographer of the first Creepshow, Michael Gornick. Instead of the five segments of the original film, this one had only three, because budgetary restrictions forced the scrapping of two segments. The three were “Old Chief Wood’nhead,” “The Raft,” and “The Hitch-hiker.” The one I was most interested to see was “The Raft,” which to me had been a near-perfect King horror tale. Unfortunately, the effects let the story down, somewhat, though it remained a good segment. “Old Chief Wood’nhead” featured George Kennedy and Dorothy Lamour in her very last screen appearance. (Too bad they couldn’t work “Road” into the title.) Some of the music was provided by Rick Wakeman. Creepshow 3 had no involvement from either Romero or King, and sank without a trace. So without a King Creepshow or even the overly-jokey Tales From the Crypt TV show, we fans were left bereft.

Figure 2 – New Creepshow Poster

Have no fear, Creepshow fans—Greg Nicotero is here! Nicotero at this point is probably best known for his work on The Walking Dead, a long-lived TV show. (After they dumped most of the main characters, we stopped watching. Although we liked Carol, Daryl, Michonne, and Negan—either the actors or the characters or both—we didn’t feel the show held any attraction for us at this point.) Nicotero is known for his special-effects makeup; the top 2/3 of his IMDB listing is makeup-related. In fact, he did makeup for Creepshow 2, although he had no involvement with the original film.

Figure 3 – Greg Nicotero

Nicotero is the executive producer for the series, and has directed some second-unit segments. The first season (it has been announced that the show has been renewed for a second season) comprises six segments, each consisting of two episodes. Not all are, or will be, based on Stephen King stories; in fact, of the twelve stories/episodes in the first season, four are original, and eight are adaptations. The episodes include “Gray Matter” by Stephen King; “By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain” by Joe Hill; “The Companion” by Joe R. Lansdale; “The House of the Head” by Josh Malerman; “The Man in the Suitcase” by Christopher Buehlman; “All Hallows Eve” by Bruce Jones; “Times Is Tough in Musky Holler” by John Skipp and Dori Miller; and “The Finger” by David J. Schow. Original stories are “Lydia Layne’s Better Half” by John Harrison and Greg Nicotero; “Skincrawlers” by Paul Dini and Stephen Langford; “Night of the Paw” by John Esposito; and “Bad Wolf Down” by Rob Schrab.

Figure 4 – Comic-book Segment Intro Scene (with Night of the Living Dead on TV)

Like the movies and the fake comic-book Creepshow that appears in this series, it melds 2D comic-book scenes with live-action (Figure 4); The series and each segment is introduced by a puppet called “The Creep.” (This is in keeping with EC Comics’ “Cryptkeeper” from Tales From the Crypt; unlike The Cryptkeeper, however, The Creep is wordless. Which from my viewpoint is a relief, as sometimes the Cryptkeeper got on my nerves.) (The creep is visible in the Featured Image for this column, and to Greg’s right in Figure 3.)

Since the series is so new, I won’t spoil any plotlines for any of you planning to watch it; I will, however, say that a few of the segments are weaker than the others; in my opinion. One of those is the Joe Hill story. And a couple are outstanding and do exactly what they promise, “Skincrawlers” and “The Man in the Suitcase” among them. I also enjoyed the fact that they brought Adrienne Barbeau back for the first episode, called “Gray Matter.”

The series comes courtesy of a streaming service—there are more now than you can shake a stick at; if you joined every streaming service at $8 or $9 each, you’d have a few hundred bucks to pay every month, in my opinion—called “Shudder.” Shudder does require you to have a credit card to sign up, but you can get the first seven days for free; all you have to do is cancel before the 7 days are up and it automatically renews. Shudder has both an annual plan and a monthly plan; the annual plan is something like $7 US/month billed all at once; the monthly plan is, I believe, $8 or $9/month paid monthly (duh).

Shudder offers collections, series, and movies; some are old (like the aforementioned Creepshow 2), and some are new. They offer every kind of horror from zombies, to supernatural, to monsters, to Dario Argento movies and Halloween flicks (both the movies and the holiday)! You can bet I’ll use my seven days wisely!

**LATE NEWS!** Library Book Riot reports that the pilot for William Gibson‘s The Peripheral has been picked up for a series! More news as I hear it later!

Comments on my column are welcome. Comment here or on Facebook. All comments, positive or negative, are welcome! (Just keep it polite, okay?) My opinion is, as always, my own, and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of Amazing Stories or its owner, editor, publisher or other columnists. See you next time!

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