I’m three episodes into Shudders serialised reinvention of the penny dreadful inspired, classic films. It sometimes suffers with its lack of budget, and at times feels perhaps a tad too reverential to its predecessors, but you know what? It’s not too bad at all.
Each episode is split into two separate short stories, and it’s a format that works.
The standout story for me so far has definitely been The House of the Head, a fun tale about a girl with a splendid dolls house, which suddenly gains a new inhabitant in the form of a decapitated zombie head. It’s genuinely, fun yet creepy tale and I really loved the whole experience of watching it and wondering out loud where the head would appear next. It’s everything you’d expect for a great Tales from the Crypt or Outer Limits episode. Which is exactly where this series is aiming.
The other episodes are for the most part, pretty good too. The Finger is very funny and kind of sweet, until the very end at least. D J Qualls puts in a good performance as a down on his luck loner who finds a finger on the floor which grows into a Bob. Bob is the best pet monster/ lookalike Xenomorph you could hope for.
Grey Matter is a cautionary tale about alcoholism, in a small town with a hurricane on the way. Based upon a story by original Creepshow writer Stephen King, from his 1978’s collection of short stories, Night Shift. Tobin Bell pops up as the towns Sheriff and if nothing else, reminded me that we absolutely need more Tobin on our screens.
All Hallows’ Eve has a bunch of marauding trick or treaters with revenge on their minds. It’s fairly predictable though. I, who usually never sees these things coming, saw the end and the twist within a minute or two of the storystarting. In this instance, it’s okay, it doesn’t take too much away from the heart that this episode has.
The Man in The Suitcase is a self-explanatory take about a guy who picks up the wrong bag at an airport and has echoes of the Milgram experiment about it. Probably my second favourite episode so far. This could have even been my favourite but it made me mad in the last 30 seconds by mashing the end a bit.
Probably the weakest minisode for me so far is Bad-Wolf Down, a poor Dog Soldiers with added Nazis type affair. I’d point you to Netflix’s excellent series, Love, Death & Robots, and to the episode Shape-Shifters, for a similar story done so much better.
The whole series so far has that fun ‘Schlocky’ vide about it, often with scene changes being in the style of an aminated comic as in the original films. When that same ‘schlockyness’, creeps too far into the episodes, the show turns into homage rather then something new, operating within the Creepshow framework. That should be where the show disappoints the most, however…
…then there’s the Creep. He (It?) is probably the part of the series which bugs me the most. He’s animated, animatronic (awful) and maybe even practical special effects. Just feels inconsistent. I would have expected the showmakers ( including The Walking Dead’s special effects maestro and occasional director, Greg Nicotero) to have had the Creep perhaps as the most polished effect, yet he feels like an afterthought that they remembered they needed to include for show to be ‘Creepshow.’
It may sound like a bad review of the show, it’s not meant to be, as I’ve said before I’ve enjoyed quite a lot of it. It does have problems, but the good is very good. Or at the least, very enjoyable and worthy of upholding the Creepshow name.