Shows

Creepshow: Season 1 Episode 3

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This week brings another all new episode of Shudder’s hit series, Creepshow. While the first two episodes had tonally similar segments, either both being spooky or both being humorous, this episode brings viewers a bit more variety.

First up is a Halloween-inspired segment titled “All Hallow’s Eve.” Here the story follows a group of teens on Halloween night. They’re probably a bit too old to go trick-or-treating, but they claim it will be their last time. As the friends venture out to collect their treat, it becomes clear they are looking for more than just candy and the townspeople dread these trick-or-treaters. This fun little throwback is written by Bruce Jones (Deadly Nightmares, Masters of Horror) and directed by John Harrison (Dune, Tales From the Darkside: The Movie).

This first segment of episode 2 has a very nostalgic feel to it. The style looks like something out of the 90’s, as do the costumes worn by our trick-or-treaters. It gives the overall look and feel of an episode of Goosebumps or Are You Afraid of the Dark? While some viewers might not appreciate this style and prefer more of the effects heavy 80’s horror typically associated with Creepshow, I personally loved “All Hallow’s Eve.” It took me back to my childhood and delivers a great classic Halloween tale.

There aren’t many effects in this story, but the four teens deliver strong performances. “All Hallow’s Eve” stars Connor Christie (Missionary) as Pete, Madison Thompson (Henry Danger) as Jill, Jasun Jabbar Wardlaw Jr. (Black Lightning) as Binky, and Andrew Eakle (Crimetime) as Bobby. While all of them want this to be their last Halloween night, Pete and Jill are clearly the more mature of the group and rein the other two in while Binky and Bobby enjoy a bit of mischief. These kids all feel like normal every day teens, but they all do a great job of gradually showing why there is more than meets the eye.

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The second segment is “The Man in the Suitcase,” directed by Dave Bruckner (The Ritual, V/H/S) and written by Christopher Buehlman in his debut as a screenwriter. In this segment we meet a down on his luck college student. After accidentally taking home the wrong suitcase from the airpot, he discovers a man trapped inside. Even more bizarre is the man seems to cough up gold coins whenever he’s in pain.

Horror fans who are familiar with Bruckner’s films likely know his films tend to be very dark, atmospheric, and sometimes rather terrifying. “The Man in the Suitcase” is a huge departure from that, leaning more towards a dark comedic tone. What makes the story so compelling is it creates a scenario where the viewer is forced to think about what they would do in a similar situation. Would you free the man from the suitcase or would you inflict pain upon him in order to get rich on his gold coins?

While the entire cast does a great job, there are two clear standouts. Will Kindrachuk (Preacher, Boy Erased) stars as Justin. Justin is the one who finds the suitcase. Kindrachuk excels at portraying Justin as he grapples with his desire for the gold and his desire to be a good person. Opposite him is Ravi Naidu (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Homeland) as the man in the suitcase. From the unfortunate position his character finds himself in to the way he manages to exude pain in a darkly comical way, Naidu gives it his all in this performance.

It was nice to finally get two tonally different stories in a single episode of Creepshow. The series is truly showing a diverse range of tales that can appeal to many different types of horror fans. At times, the budgetary constraints of the show can be felt, but it still stays true to the look and feel of the film that inspired the series.

You can catch this episode of Creepshow today on Shudder.

Creepshow: Season 1 Episode 2

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After a successful first episode, it’s time for episode two of Shudder’s hit new series, Creepshow. This week features two tales that lean more towards the comedic side compared to what fans saw in episode one. The two stories told in this episode are “Bad Wolf Down” and “The Finger.” These are two very different tales, but each one is sure to deliver the laughs.

The episode starts with “Bad Wolf Down.” This segment is written and directed by Rob Schrab (Monster House, The Sarah Silverman Program). The plot follows a small band of American soldiers fighting Nazis in France during WWII. They are forced to retreat and take shelter in a small building that once served as the jail for the remote area. Inside the men find a French woman locked inside the jail cell. Yet this woman isn’t as helpless as she appears.

“Bad Wolf Down” definitely takes the audience back to 80’s b-horror films with clunky dialogue, overacting, and somewhat laughable practical effects. This is clearly a deliberate choice made by Schrab. It is an intentional cheesiness that creates a hilarious throwback for horror fans. The most humorous aspect is the dialogue. Much of what the soldiers say to each other is so over the top and stereotypical of what you might expect soldiers to say to each other. It’s almost impossible not to laugh.

Of all the actors in this segment, horror fans will immediately recognize Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator, From Beyond) as the vengeful Nazi commander, Reinhard. Combs is a gem and a great comedic actor, which leads me to believe his absolutely atrocious German accent is another purposeful choice to add to the humor. The other standout performances come from Dave MacDonald (Stranger Things, Doom Patrol) as Captain Talby, Scott “Kid Cudi” Miscudi (Need For Speed, Two Night Stand) as Doc Kessler, and Callan Wilson (A Mermaid’s Tale, All Hallow’s Evil: Lord of the Harvest) as Pvt. Rivers.

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So far, “Bad Wolf Down” has utilized the comic book style that normally bookends the stories more than any other segment. Some of this is more subtle, like including the blue and red backlighting fans will likely recognize from the first Creepshow film. Since this is a werewolf story, there is naturally a scene where the viewer is shown people transforming from a person to a wolf. Schrab and team wisely used the comic book style to show the transformation in an animated comic panel rather than blowing the budget on practical effects. It looks great, is smart and unique, plus it adds to the humor. The werewolves themselves are also a bit on the cheesy side, but each wolf has a really fun and individual look to them.

From there our beloved creep flips open a new comic for the second segment. This one is titled “The Finger.” Written by David J. Schow (The Crow, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre [2006]) and directed by Greg Nicotero (The Walking Dead), the story introduces viewers to a man named Clark. Clark likes to collect things other people would likely consider garbage. One day he finds a weird, shriveled up finger. He takes it home and realizes it is growing; first an arm, then an entire body. He names the strange creature Bob and cares for it, but Bob has a murderous way of showing his affection.

This is an absolutely laugh out loud story. “The Finger” stars DJ Qualls (Supernatural, The Core) as Clark. Clark is kind of a loner, so when Bob comes into his life he’s happy to care for the strange creature. Qualls’ performance is hysterical for two main reasons. First, he often breaks the fourth wall to talk directly to the audience, giving amusing commentary and summarizing events to save time. Second, he reacts to the bloody things Bob does the same way someone might react to their cat being annoying or bringing him a dead mouse. It is entirely relatable, but taken to such an unbelievable extreme it is sure to make viewers crack up.

“The Finger” also includes amazing practical effects. From the lone finger to the body that eventually grows out of it, Bob is a gross and creepy little creature that you also want to cuddle because he’s so cute. It is great creature design that fans are sure to remember as the series continues. On top of that, the little presents Bob brings home for Clark are also very well done. The entire episode is filled with fantastic practical effects, as one would expect in something directed by Nicotero.

Episode two of Shudder’s Creepshow took the series in a much more humorous direction. Both “Bad Wolf Down” and “The Finger” deliver laughs, although they are very different types of humor. On top of that, the performances are highly entertaining and the practical effects are delightful, even the somewhat hokier werewolves of “Bad Wolf Down.” Just like the first episode, be sure to look for the hidden Easter eggs in episode two, including a special quick cameo in “The Finger.”

The second episode of Creepshow will be available to stream on Shudder on Thursday, October 3rd. You can also watch it live on the Shudder channel at 9pm EST/6pm PST the same night.

Favorite Things: Horror TV Shows (Still Running)

These days, horror TV shows seem to be more and more popular. Unfortunately, just like horror movies, they always get snubbed when the award shows come around. It seems only fitting that my first “Favorite Things” blog post be all about my favorite horror TV shows that are still on the air.

The Walking Dead (AMC)

This one is a fairly obvious choice, but it is just so damn good. I’m shocked every year that this is not nominated for some kind of award. The acting is amazing, it makes you afraid of humans and zombies, the practical effects are some of the best I’ve ever seen, and it never stops surprising me. That last bit may obviously be different if I had read the comics, but I haven’t so I get shocked from time to time. I just have one more word to help describe how great this show is… Daryl.

Season 6 returns Sunday, Febrauary 8th 9/8c.

Grimm (NBC)

This may be one of my favorite shows currently on TV. For those of you that haven’t seen it, the show focuses on a Portland detective who has some very interesting powers. He is what is called a Grimm, and he can see the fairytale creatures that no one else can see. Not only are the characters very compelling and likeable, but it is amazing how they weave together the stories that we grew up with and turn them into modern mysteries. They also do a great job of using the German language to name the various creatures, or Wesen, that they encounter on the show.

Airs Friday nights at 9/8c.

Penny Dreadful (Showtime)

I typically don’t mark a show as a favorite after only one season, but this is an exception to that rule. Penny Dreadful is twisted, and beautiful, and everything you could ever want from a horror show set in Victorian times. There is such masterful storytelling in this show that it is not immediately noticeable that this show incorporates some of the classic horror movie characters. The more obvious ones of Dr. Frankenstein and Dorian Gray, but if you watch and listen closely you will find the more hidden ones. The web is so tangled that at the end of the first season you have only just started to separate the threads. It is very upsetting that I have to wait until April for the second season to start!

Season 2 premieres Sunday, April 26th at 10e/p.

Teen Wolf (MTV)

This is a completely underrated show. I think just because it’s on MTV everyone assumes that it will be crap, but that is not the case at all. The show initially got the idea from the 1985 movie starring Michael J Fox. The only true similarity is that the two main characters/best friends are named after the characters in the movie, and the main character ends up being a werewolf. After that, everything goes completely off script. The characters are so dynamic, the script is witty and fascinating, and there is a new twist at every turn. Probably my favorite thing about the show is that they introduce all sorts of creatures from mythology around the world.

Right now the air date for season 5 is TBD, but I’m guessing it will be this Fall.

Bates Motel (A&E)

Freddy Highmore and Vera Farmiga are the perfect Norman and Norma Bates. Not only are they simply amazing actors, but they create this very uncomfortable codependency between the two characters that you can’t help but get hooked on. This show does a great job of giving you a bit of the story you already know and love, thanks to the great Alfred Hitchcock, but it also brings it to modern times and gives you more of the history of the infamous mother-son duo. This show also gives you that uncomfortable feeling of liking the two main characters while also being very disturbed by them for their own reasons.

Season 3 airs Monday, March 8th at 9/8c.

Face Off (SyFy)

I couldn’t find a trailer for the current season, so I chose the original teaser from when the show first started. Not many people will consider this a horror show, but I think it should be included on this list. The show is a competition series where you get to watch people create masterful works of art that you would see in your favorite horror/sci-fi/fantasy films and TV shows. I am kind of obsessed with practical effects, so this show is definitely one of my favorites. I love seeing the creative process the artists go through to create unique creatures from their imagination. Definitely worth watching.

Airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c.

That is my list of current favorite horror shows. I would like to give honorable mention to The Strain, Z Nation (which I have been binge-watching on Netflix all day today), Bitten, and Helix. The Strain is on FX, and the other three shows are on the SyFy channel. All of them have only had one full season so far, so it is too soon for me to add them to my favorites. Maybe they will make the list next year, but I would recommend checking them out as well.