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Shudder’s Creepshow Premiere Provides Bite-Size Horror

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BY April 27, 2020
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If you’ve seen the first two Creepshow films, then you probably know what to expect from the new series on Shudder. As with the movies (and the very similar Tales from the Crypt series), the show is an anthology. While the original films were based on stories by obscure New England author Stephen King, the series will draw from a variety of writers. It’s billed as having 6 episodes, but it’s really 12 “minisodes”–2 episodes per installment. The first installment dropped this week, so here’s what I thought of Shudder’s Creepshow premiere.

The Blueprint for Shudder’s Version

Shudder's Creepshow premiere Giancarlo Esposito in “Gray Matter,” image via Shudder

As Joshua explained in the post on Creepshow‘s trailer, the original films were inspired by the kind of horror stories EC Comics used to publish. (They’re the ones who did the original Tales from the Crypt comics, by the way.) Usually featuring some kind of moral, you could argue that the King stories followed that same pattern. The morals weren’t usually complex–they were along the lines of “don’t be greedy,” “don’t kill people,” and “don’t touch that meteor.” They were clear, though.

It appears that the TV show will deviate from that approach. The stories picked for the series seem to be just scary stories–and that’s okay! Sometimes it’s just fun getting scared. But did it work? Let’s find out.

The Plotlines for Shudder’s Creepshow Premiere

In this first installment, the first minisode is “Gray Matter.” If you’ve read Stephen King’s Night Shift, then you know this story already. Although the script makes some minor changes, it’s basically the same story from the 1978 book. As such, a teenager comes to a small store during a hurricane evacuation. There he tells three local holdouts about the terrible things that have been happening to his father. Horror queen Adrienne Barbeau plays the mother figure who stays with him, while Tobin Bell and Giancarlo Esposito go investigate. (And horror ensues, obviously–just look at Esposito’s face up there.)

Next up is “The House of the Head,” written by Bird Box author Josh Malerman. Its premise is even simpler. Little Evie (Cailey Fleming) watches with mounting dread as evil invades her dollhouse. And that’s it–we watch, too.

My Verdict on the Creepshow Premiere

Shudder's Creepshow premiere Cailey Fleming in “The House of the Head,” image via Shudder

As with any anthology series, the individual elements can be hit or miss. So while the second installment had a much thinner premise than the first, I enjoyed it a bit more. I didn’t find it that scary–in fact, at one point, it made me laugh out loud. But that’s kind of a throwback to the original movies, which were trying to be scary and funny in equal measure.

“Gray Matter” goes for a more straight horror vibe and its veteran actors commit. So while it wasn’t that scary to me, either, I did enjoy watching the thrills unfold. As I’ve read the story, it was obviously predictable for me, but there’s always the excitement of seeing what may change. In addition, speaking of seeing, the episodes looked great, from the comic book flourishes to the practical effects.

And if I didn’t like one episode, I didn’t have to wait that long. Showrunner Greg Nicotero and his stable of writers understand that there’s a value to telling quick stories. These stories are efficient, trimmed of fat and filler. So while these two stories didn’t particularly wow me, I’ve got 10 more coming. And one with American werewolves fighting Nazis–literally what I daydream about–so I will be tuning in again.

Are y’all ready to get scared? Tell us in the comments below and get social with us on Twitter. You can watch the Creepshow premiere episode (featuring these two minisodes) on Shudder’s website or through the app. New episodes will drop every week on Thursdays; the werewolf episode (“Bad Wolf Down”) is available now .

Featured image via Shudder

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Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. She now splits her time between the Appalachian wilds (of Alabama) and the considerably more refined streets of New York City. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at salome@comicyears.com.

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