Full disclosure: Creepshow is my favorite horror movie. Along with Are You Afraid of the Dark?, it instilled in me a deep love of anthology horror. As the years have gone on, traditionally episodic anthology horror has given way to season-long arcs a la American Horror Story or larger cinematic ideas like Hulu’s Into the Dark.. The campfire fun of scary stories has been reshaped to better attract modern viewing sensibilities. There’s nothing wrong with this method, but it’s a bummer that we haven’t seen a classic anthology horror show really break out. The closest we’ve come is Black Mirror, but that is playing by a very different set of rules and goals than stuff like Tales from the Crypt.
So, when Shudder announced that they were bringing back Creepshow as a television series, I was immediately intrigued. The franchise has had its ups and downs — am I the only one who remember Creepshow Raw? — but nothing has come close to capturing the same gleeful dark magic of the original.
To put it as bluntly as possible, Shudder’s Creepshow GETS it. Headed up by horror legend Greg Nicotero, this new iteration of the Stephen King/George A. Romero tribute to the EC Comics is a total treat for those of us who like to laugh and scream in the same breath. Using short stories as their inspirations — the absolute correct move — as well as a few original tales, Creepshow is very clear on its “by fans, for fans” approach. This is a show that celebrates the joy of getting together and telling the most outlandish spooky thing you can come up with.
What’s really encouraging about Shudder’s Creepshow is a sense of collective understanding on the part of the creatives involved. One of the reasons the original Creepshow is the best anthology horror film of all time is because it was made with a very singular vision. Modern anthology horror often is subject to the whims of gun-for-hire directors or a lack of a tonal umbrella for everything to fall under. Shudder’s Creepshow doesn’t have that problem. This is a show that knows exactly what it wants to be and everyone seems to be on the same page. In truth, it feels a lot like the best eras of Tales from the Crypt, a show that probably wouldn’t exist if Creepshow hadn’t been there first.
Granted, this is a television production from a fairly fresh streaming service, so it’s not going to have the resources you’d see from a studio picture or a Netflix show. Instead, Creepshow knows where to pick its battles in that regard. For instance, the episode “House of the Head” is a very low-key affair about a haunted dollhouse. It requires next to no special effects but makes up for that in creative filmmaking, a spooky mood, and a great premise. Don’t worry though, you’ll get your recommended dose of crazy creatures by the end of the first season. It wouldn’t be Creepshow without some memorable monsters and there are sure to be more than few beasties that stick with you from this show.
It’s probably too early to say this, but I’m going to roll the dice on a hyperbolic claim: Shudder’s Creepshow is the best entry in the series since the original film. A creepy, kooky, and altogether excellent tribute to its namesake. It will satisfy fans that are looking for a good ol’ time when it comes to horror. As someone who grew up during the age of Tales from the Crypt, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, and voraciously read as many Goosebumps books as he could get his hands on — I even remember watching the premiere of the television series — I have been waiting for classic anthology horror to come back in style. Shudder’s Creepshow has scratched that itch raw. It’s a delight that we’ll be getting this show doled out to us throughout the month of October (well, starting September 26 but I’m rounding up to the spooky month) because there is no better Halloween treat than this new spin on Romero & King’s film.