DISCLAIMER: There are *minor* spoilers in this review. If you don’t want to know any of the general plot plus some details in between, I suggest you watch and then come back!
Episode ONE: “ROGER” HALF
“She said it wasn't you"
The Shudder Original Series Creepshow is based on the 1982 horror film of the same name, as well as it's sequel. Each entry takes the viewer on a journey through someone's nightmare within comic book form - with the pilot including two vastly different segments. Prior to the segments beginning we are greeted to some stellar comic book paneling that is exactly the kind of thing I was desiring in a Creepshow adaptation - the more the merrier in my book.
First we encountered 'Gray Matter', a short story by the horror legend Stephen King and directed by Greg Nicoterro (The Walking Dead). Led by some strong leading men, Giancarlo Esposito and Tobin Bell, we follow them as they make a house call to a drunkard citizen that was suspected of mentally and possibly even physically harming his son. Upon arrival they discover that there might be more to the father's alcoholism than originally told. The build up is fascinating and left me captivated until the creature reveal. Its appearance, without diving into any details, isn't exactly what I desired from the creature in question, especially after seeing the development to the final result being much more interesting than the conclusive showdown. With an hour split between two segments, there felt like much more could have been fleshed out of the content provided - leaving at least myself incredibly disappointed.
The second segment titled 'The House of the Head' is a much more subtle and refined piece of horror. While much was left to the imagination, shivers did successfully run down my spine throughout the short half hour run. The story follows Evie, a little girl who enjoys playing with her dollhouse, until one day a mysterious severed head appears on the dollhouse coffee table. From there on out, she can no longer protect her favorite pretend family. Even with a much more Creepshow-esque segment, I couldn't help but relish in the fact that maybe this episode ended in a bit of a copout. All things end a little too easy, and dare I say campy, to truly appreciate the episode as a whole.
Going in, my expectations were crashing through the ceiling and as the credits began to roll and the Creepshow mascot took his place in the final frame of the episode, I couldn't help but feel underwhelmed in such an enormous fashion - hopeful for the future, but my expectations have been lowered significantly. Left with mixed results, Creepshow has room to improve, but it still manages to send chills down my neck more often than not.
Episode TWO: “Bad Wolf Down" HALF
“War Changes You."
The WW2 setting is a brilliant idea and allowing it to be set in a very minimal setting is another clever concept.
The practical makeup is absolutely incredible. While not state of the art, they look exactly like what the makeup would have looked like in the original film.
The story is simple but gets the job done and helps us get to what really matters - the creatures.
Jeffrey Combs’ supporting character seemed a tad wasted overall, but he was still a pleasant sight.
The story, similar to the first episode, just ends abruptly. This is the way the film was, so while I enjoy that aspect, it's the fact that we don't get complete closure that makes me slightly uncomfortable with these shorts.
This segment felt incredibly short, even rushed in fact, while leaving much to be desired but giving enough that I wanted more from this filmmaker's segment.
Episode two of Shudder's CREEPSHOW starts with mixed results. While the WWII atmosphere and visual style of the show imitates the movie, it sometimes felt thrown in for effect rather than stylizing the scene purposefully. The idea of the segment is really gripping and a fun nod to the constant werewolf films of the 80s and prior. Jeffrey Combs (Reanimator) has a supporting role in BAD WOLF DOWN, and his part feels very minimal in the grand scheme of things, although it's always great to see the man back on screen. The issue I have with BAD WOLF DOWN is just how quickly it ends, as we have barely any time to enjoy these characters before they evolve into their counterparts (very awesomely I must add, with the use of the comic book panels). So while I enjoyed the atmosphere, the practical makeup, and even the cameo by Combs, it's all over before I could really appreciate it all.