I’ve always had a fondness for the Creepshow films—the first two, no one talks about the third—encompassing a lot of what I loved about 80s horror. Those movies most likely helped cement my admiration for Stephen King and Creepshow 2 was how I saw my first pair of breasts. When I was eight or nine years old we had a babysitter who was a horror fiend and let me and two other girls watch a lot of stuff we probably shouldn’t have seen—giving me a fair share of nightmares. That aside, the original material for this franchise was great and I was excited to see that a television show was in development, but worried that it may not recapture some of the magic I felt from my first exposure.
A lot of the people who worked on the new show also helped with the originals in some way or at least have strong ties to the genre. So, it should be no surprise that they kept a lot of the elements from those: the comic book panels, transitions, odd angles, varying distances for similar shots, and it all looks so good and I wish they had gone into that aesthetic even heavier. The only returning thing I wasn’t sure about was The Creep itself, the puppet that bookends each of the fables. It has never offered too much to the overall experience since The Creep doesn’t speak per se, but I figure there has to be more that can be done with it or simply just keep it as a mascot that doesn’t take up episode time.
Those visuals could use a bit of tweaking, but the audio department stood out, even if for the wrong reasons. There is some decent mood music to accompany most of the episodes and some fun cheesy sound effects. The best part was when they used Shutterbug by Outkast’s Big Boi, who has a small cameo in that episode—I was way too distracted and pleased at that.
The television show offers up six episodes in its first season with two stories each. Viewers will notice several actors that appear across the twelve tales, with names like Tricia Helfer, Dana Gould, Giancarlo Esposito, DJ Qualls, and horror icon Tobin Bell. They have an impressive array of directors as well, like John Harrison, David Bruckner, Greg Nictero, Roxanne Benjamin, and Tom Savini who brought the words to life in front of the camera. Those names compliment the writers that penned the narratives, with Stephen King involved, his son Joe Hill as well as Stephen Langford, Joe R. Lansdale, and others, but my favorite name on the list is Paul Dini.
The stories are quite varied, touching up on a lot of traditional anecdotes, but taking new approaches for the most part with some obvious themes. Sometimes the monsters win, other times bad people get what they deserve, and I love that it isn’t always clear who the audience should be rooting for. The House of the Head is a solid example of a decent episode with a classic concept that doesn’t linger too long on the tired tropes, just upping the ante a small bit with each new scene. I always appreciate a good werewolf story, like Bad Wolf Down, something that feels inspired and shows the audience how it can have a little fun, or The Man in the Suitcase, where that seemingly humorous situation can quickly turn.
There is a solid mix of episodes, how some can be straight horror while others are psychological, a good number of them have extreme levels of gore while a few keep it small and let the imagination work. The only issue that some might have here is that it is hard to nail down a tone for the whole show and doesn’t always feel like it lines up perfectly with the previous films. Times is Tough in Musky Holler feels like the most authentic and core feeling to how I remember that type of horror at its campiest, and it’s just fun, but I kept feeling like nothing landed quite like some of those original stories.
Perhaps it’s because the individual tales are so short and self-contained, but it often feels like these episodes weren’t sticking the landing. Few of the endings were truly satisfying. I know that Creepshow doesn’t always give the audience answers—there’s no need for a background in the story usually—it just presents something cool and builds suspense toward a fun climax while trying to impart an idea. Wrapping up some of the stories though seems to be difficult or less important.
But that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy watching every part of it. I’m hoping we get more episodes soon that lean into the originals more. Creepshow has always felt like this great experiment to me, something that tries to capture certain aspects of horror and make the audience just a little uncomfortable while not letting them forget what they saw on screen.