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CREEPSHOW, Season 1, an anthology of six episodes, each containing two stories.  The first episode features Stephen King’s "Gray Matter", starring Adrienne Barbeau (who was in the original CREEPSHOW film, and pulled at my horror heart strings - thank you Greg!), Giancarlo Esposito, and Tobin Bell (SAW), directed by Gregory Nicotero, and "House of the Head" written by Josh Malerman of Bird Box fame.

When it was first announced that Greg Nicotero (KNB EFX, THE WALKING DEAD) was bringing a CREEPSHOW series to the world on the new SHUDDER channel I was elated. I saw the original 1982 film in theaters by George Romero and Stephen King, using the idea of flipping through an old EC Comic book to introduce each story (I own a few of the original cels from the CREEPSHOW 2 title sequence) and both films are treasures from my younger days.

The task to bring this to a new audience has to cover both bases: old fans, like myself, and a new generation being introduced for the first time. Today’s audiences have been fed extreme horror almost from birth (let’s hope their parents held them back a few years before that exposure), with heavier, sometimes gorier, premises than what I experienced with the first two episodes made available for this review. Although GRAY MATTER shows that we all have a monster waiting inside just clawing to get out, HOUSE OF THE DEAD offers us an alternative that isn’t as intense but brings the creep factor up a notch.

“My Daddy, he’s changed”

The series introduction brings back The Creep, a shrouded figure with rotting flesh, big teeth, and piercing eyes that opens a chained crate, a nod to one of the best stories in the original ‘82 film. In GRAY MATTER we’re introduced to a beach town convenience store inhabited by Barbeau, Bell, and Esposito, that’s boarded up as a hurricane is nipping at the towns edge. Timmy comes busting through the door to grab his father’s daily case of Harrow beer, even with the storm coming. Timmy begins to tell them that his father’s “changed” and his beer addiction has gotten worse day by day as “his thirst grew.” From there we’re introduced to the horror that Timmy has been living with and, well, the realization is better to be seen than discussed at this point. Smart and inventive storytelling from the screenplay to the visuals, it’s a great start to this new series.

Yes, this doll house is “one-of-a-kind”

Evie has a new doll house in the tale, THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD. A doll house that seems to take on a life of it’s own, at least she thinks it has. The doll family inhabiting the house seem to have moved every time she comes back to play with it, in alarming ways. She finds a new inhabitant that is not part of the original family and is indeed the source of much trouble within this supposedly “lifeless” house. Even the pet dog is trying to escape from the new… inhabitant. As Evie continues to watch the horror unfold, she doesn’t tell her parents about the goings on and who would believe her? A fun romp that has an interesting turn of events. Brought to us by BIRD BOX author, Josh Malerman (which was a huge Netflix hit) and is a welcome addtiion to his new career in the horror film universe.

There are a lot of references to the original CREEPSHOW film, and Stephen King films and stories, in general. I recommend watching and enjoying the episodes without looking for them (you’ll catch some right off) and then rewatching again to see what you missed. Lots of nods to the master himself. However where I do think they missed the boat is that the music is lacking a much needed punch to make this a truly great show. With that being said, horror fans will get a kick out of this, and with these two first entries it’s a good start to the series.

Pass me a Harrow Beer...

- Dave Hinchberger, Stephen King Catalog, Overlook Connection

CREEPSHOW starts Thursday, September 26th on SHUDDER, at 9 PM Eastern, but subscribers can stream a bit earlier.

This article was published on Thursday 26 September, 2019.
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