We live in an amazing time for media access. Whether it’s being able to rent movies and shows through your TV, or the multiple streaming services that are all offering different things, it’s never been more simple to get your hands on something. In theory. The big drawback to the streaming services is lost media. There have already been multiple examples of television shows simply ceasing to exist due to lack of physical releases and their host streaming services removing them completely. One streamer who’s doing right, however, is Shudder.
Shudder have done a great job at releasing physical copies of their exclusive films and shows. The latest release from Shudder, ahead of its fourth season joining the streaming service, are seasons 1 -3 of the horror anthology series Creepshow.
Based upon the film series originally created in the late 1980s, the series follows the format of the films, presenting short horror stories, written and directed by a variety of big names, and featuring both long time industry icons and up and coming talent in front of the camera, all presented around the format of the audience flicking through a horror comic. Shudder brought the series back in 2019, and the series quickly earned the streaming platform its highest viewing numbers to date. As with the films, the series does also take a slightly comedic slant towards horror, with some of the stories being more dark comedy than out and out horror tales.
Headed by Greg Nicotero, a special effects legend in the horror community, as well as director and co-executive producer for The Walking Dead, the series brings together a host of talent to work on it. The three seasons on offer here feature tales adapted from short stories by names such as Stephen King, Joe Hill, and Josh Malerman, as well as wholly original tales by Rob Schrab, John Harrison, Dana Gould, and Paul Dini. The series features directors including Roxanne Benjamin, Tom Savini, and Joe Lynch.
For those who are less into their writers and directors, the onscreen talent also includes some amazing names, like Adrienne Barbeau, Bruce Davison, Kiefer Sutherland, Justin Long, Ali Larter, James Remar, Giancarlo Esposito, Michael Rooker, Jeffrey Combs, Molly Ringwald, Keith David, Tricia Helfer, and Tobin Bell, to name but a small fraction. Each story features a face or two that people will recognise, and the fact that the series is able to draw in some big names in the horror industry also helps it to stand out. The very first story the show gives us seems to be trying to showcase this kind of talent in the fact that it’s a Stephen King story, directed by Nicotero, and stars Tobin Bell, Adrienne Barbeau, and Giancarlo Esposito. The fact that the series has so many big names working both in front of and behind the cameras speaks to the level of quality it has.
Each episode of the show is divided into two stories, each running roughly 20-25 minutes in length. The lack of any overarching plot or connective narrative works to the show’s advantage, and it means that you’re able to stick on an episode (or even half of one) without having to worry about what came before it. It’s the kind of show you can easily dip in and out of, and if you want to perhaps try some new kinds of horror stories it’s a great way to test out various styles and sub-genres without having to commit to something long. It’s also a great way to introduce folks to horror, as even if they don’t particularly like one of the stories, the next one might just grab them.
A lot of the stories the show has feel like they’re being made by people who really do love the genre, and you’ll find multiple nods to other horror projects. Two that stand out include the season one story ‘Bad Wolf Down’, which has a group of American soldiers becoming werewolves to fight Nazis (led by Jeffrey Combs). Each of the soldier’s names are characters from famous werewolf movies, such as Talby from The Wolfman and Quist from The Howling. The episode also makes each of the werewolves look different, featuring styles distinct from each other and reminiscent of different werewolves from across the decades. Perhaps the best for making nods to other stories is the season two story ‘Public Television of the Dead’, which is basically a sequel to The Evil Dead. Set in a TV studio, Ted Raimi, playing himself, comes onto an antiques show with a creepy old book that’s been in his family for years. Of course, the book gets read aloud, and Deadites wreak havoc.
A large part of the charm of the series is that it also uses a lot of practical effects. Whenever the show can it seems to embrace physical effects over things such as CGI, with make-up, animatronics, and even the occasional puppet or two making appearances on screen. This absolutely fits into the feel of the old Creepshow movies, and gives it a more timeless feel and quality. Where the show can’t always do practical effects it will often used animated segments, such as when transitioning from one story to another, that work extremely well.
Alongside each of the episodes, the new Blu-ray releases come with extras that fans of the series will want to check out. Season one comes with audio commentaries featuring cast and crew, season two has both the Animated Special and Holiday Special included, along with behind-the-scenes featurettes, and season three includes raw footage and the full length footage of Amazon’s Comic-Con @Home Panel with cast and crew.
For those looking for some short and sweet horror stories, something that can fill in short gaps and features a host of amazing talent and legendary names, Creepshow is the perfect addition to your collection. With so many shows vanishing forever with streaming service evils, Shudder and Acorn Media are doing their fans right with these new releases.
Creepshow series one, two and three are out now on Blu-ray from Acorn Media International.