Creepshow: Season 1 [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - United Kingdom - Acorn Media
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (7th January 2024).
The Film

In the rush to revamp and capitalize on existing intellectual property in the horror genre between the likes of Blumhouse and Shudder, the latter has managed to pick up the rights to the Creepshow franchise which started life as part of a three picture deal for director George A. Romero with United Film Distribution Corporation that also netted the passion project Knightriders and the massively scaled-down Day of the Dead. The Warner-distributed, Stephen King-scripted Creepshow proved a massive hit, but its sequel came after Romero parted ways with production company Laurel Entertainment by way of New World Pictures and was a more uneven production that found more life on video and cable than theatrically. The third film came in the new millennium as part of an unfortunate duo of productions helmed by Ana Clavell (Horror 102: Endgame) and James Glenn Dudelson (Horror 101) that also included Day of the Dead 2: Contagium (Dudelson has since produced the dreadful remake of Day of the Dead and its sequel Day of the Dead: Bloodline, as well as the TV series and all eight episodes of the first season of Shudder's Creepshow and one of the second second).

Episode Breakdown:

"Gray Matter"/"The House of the Head" (45:50): As a town's remaining residents holding up in a diner during a hurricane, young Timmy (Barely Lethal's Christopher Nathan) reveals the connection between local disappearances and his father's drinking problem. A little girl (The Walking Dead's Cailey Fleming) discovers that the residents of her antique dollhouse have a life of their own, including a monstrous intruder that may being eyeing her home next. Adrienne Barbeau, Giancarlo Esposito, and Tobin Bell are wasted in noting roles in the first story.

"Bad Wolf Down"/"The Finger" (43:32): It's Dog Soldiers-lite as American soldiers in occupied France discover that something has been massacring Nazis and Resistance members alike as they hold up in a local jail. A loner (Road Trip's DJ Qualls) discovers the mummified finger of an unidentifiable creature and it returns his affection and acts out his frustrations on those who cross him.

"All Hallow's Eve"/"The Man in the Suitcase" (44:23): In one of a handful of Stranger Things-esque episodes, a quartet of tween outcasts terrorize the parents of a small town, collecting on treats and delivering some grisly treats. A slacker (Preacher's Will Kindrachuk) discovers his golden goose is a man (Anne Rice's Mayfair Witches' Ravi Naidu) who has been contorted and crammed into a suitcase.

"The Companion"/"Lydia Layne's Better Half" (42:37): A young boy (Logan Allen) abused by his older brother (Voltaire Colin Council) learns that the you have to feed imaginary friends or they find their own food. A cut-throat businesswoman (Battlestar Galactica's Tricia Helfer) gets caught in an elevator during an earthquake with the body of a woman (Danielle Lyn) she has accidentally killed.

"Night of the Paw"/"Times is Tough in Musky Holler" (43:51): A woman on the run (Bad Samaritan's Hannah Barefoot) crashes her car and is rescued by a mortician ('s Bruce Davison) who possesses a monkey's paw that grants wishes with a hefty price. The mayor (A Love Song for Bobby Long's Dane Rhodes) and sheriff (Eight Legged Freaks' David Arquette) of a town use the epidemic of the flesh-eating living dead to seize control, but the populace eventually revolt and use their own weapons against them in a sadistic spectator sport.

"Skincrawlers"/"By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain" (44:06): An overweight man (Mystery Men's Dana Gould) discovers that there is no short cut to weight loss when he is offered to take part in a test program involving a fat-eating strain of leeches. A young girl (Sydney Wease) believes that finding the sea monster her late father spent his life hunting might be a means of getting her mother (Gena Shaw) away from her abusive boyfriend (City of Lies' James Devoti).

Far from conjuring up pleasant memories of the blackly comic "The Crate" ("Just tell it to call you Billie, you bitch!") and "Father's Day" ("Where's my cake?") – along with Creepshow 2's "The Hitchhiker" ("Thanks for the ride, lady!") – the sweet poignancy of "The Lonesome Death of Jody Verrill" ("Meteor shit!"), the just desserts of "Something to Tide You Over" (" Oh I can hold my breath for a long, long time!"), or the skin-crawling revulsion of "They're Creeping Up On You", Shudder's "original series" Creepshow feels more like a cross between the nineties HBO series Tales from the Crypt crossed with the feature film spin-off of Tales from the Darkside via some shared participants including actor/composer-turned-director John Harrison (Frank Herbert's Dune) directing eight episodes and writing a few… as that's really as close to Romero as it gets (and only slightly closer to King by way of the literary sources for three episodes).

The first season of twelve stories (two per episode) all feel limited by the running time and budget, and manage to be simultaneously underdeveloped and drawn out. While the standout episodes of the Romero film had some great gory effects, they also had standout performances which this series seriously lacks. Apart from perhaps Qualls who is able to make the most of his one-man-show in "The Finger" compared to "Lydia Layne's Better Half", some actors are not given enough breathing room to do anything but go through the motions while some of the better actors are used as glorified Easter Eggs – the two appearances by Barbeau – and the worst are just hamming it up like Arquette and usually-entertaining genre veteran Jeffrey Combs (Re-animator) in a performance that would be scenery-chewing if were not so embarrassingly bad. KNB's effects are digitally-augmented in the manner that most people who prefer practical effects have been complaining about for years while the digital rotoscoping transitions to artwork that is more generic than the distinctive EC Comics artwork and instead of gel lighting during the shots of terrified actors that mimic comic panels, we get digital tints.

The scarecrow episode "The Companion" demonstrates some considered visual style but fails to emotionally resonate, playing like the wraparound segments of the original two Laurel features with a limp sting in the tail. "Night of the Paw" is well-acted but it pretty much shows John Harrison pulling out the same visual tricks he employed on the flashback-heavy "Cat from Hell" episode of Tales from the Darkside: The Movie while his telling offers no more surprise than The Vault of Horror's take on the tale. While "Times is Tough in Musky Holler" feels like the most overt attempt to merge live action and comic book, it quickly reveals that it was less of a style choice than an economic one, with the underdeveloped story unfolding as layered dialogue scenes over static art panels with the bulk of the live action taking place on two sets in media res, robbing the viewer of any buildup to make the viewer care about any of the offscreen victims of the corrupt officials or enjoy the characters reaping their just desserts. "All Hallow's Eve" has the perfect EC Comics wrongdoing and retribution scenario but it is let down by not only striving for emotional resonance but also drawing out the twist beyond the point where it is obvious. The more visually-understated "House of the Head" also proves to be the more effective for leaving more unsaid than shown. That the series is in its fourth season may suggest that it has gotten better or that the episodes simply play better watched in staggered viewing than binged.


Acorn's Blu-ray is visually identical to the U.S. release apart from region coding, and the 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.78:1 widescreen Blu-ray encodes are also identical with the digitally-lensed and graded imagery looking crisp and sharp in general but some of the saturated grading does reveal banding while some of the dark scenes were obviously shot flat and graded down while others were probably always making do with low location lighting.


The sole audio option is an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track and, while it is state of the art, the use of the sound stage varies depending on the film with some of the more talky episodes front-oriented while other dialogue-driven ones do not skimp on the surrounds. Optional English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles confirm that this is a direct port of the U.S. edition.


Whereas the U.S. release includes a third disc of episode-specific featurettes, the U.K. release only includes the first two discs so the only extras are the audio commentaries that accompany each of the episodes (with "Night of the Paw" and "Times is Tough in Musky Holler" each receiving an additional track). For the interests of concision, we will not break down each track. Series writer/director Harrison discusses working with Romero on the film Creepshow and the Tales from the Darkside series and directing the feature spin-off as well as his attempts throughout the nineties and onwards to get another genre anthology series off the ground, as well as the difficulties of finding an appropriate location for "Night of the Paw" within driving distance of where the show's production was based in Atlanta, Georgia (production moved to Vancouver, Canada for season four) while writer John Esposito recalls Tom Savini being up to direct Graveyard Shift but doing the Night of the Living Dead remake instead. Executive producer/writer/director Greg Nicotero (of KNB Efx) points out various Easter Eggs throughout the series including references to King works, props from Creepshow and even the bucket from Carrie (stuff that seems like it would appeal to avid horror viewers but seems more like fodder for IMDb and Wikipedia contributors), but also that he originally envisioned Simon Pegg as the lead for "The Finger".

Harrison reveals that there really was "no solid metaphor" in Birdbox co-writer Josh Malerman's script for "The House of the Head" while "Bad Wolf Down" writer/director Rob Schraub (Monster House) recalls pitching a Dawn of the Dead remake to Romero years ago with Community's Dan Harmon.

"The Companion" director David Bruckner (The Signal) and writer Matt Venne (The Exorcism of Molly Hartley) discuss the fifteen-year process of trying to bring the source story to the screen, including a proposed 3D feature. On the track for "Lydia Layne's Better Half" writer Nicotero and director Roxanne Benjamin (Southbound) reveal that the episode was indeed inspired by "The Drop of Water" episode from Black Sabbath, although that may actually invite unfavorable comparisons rather than enhancing one's appreciation of the episode.


The inaugural season of Creepshow is uneven with little promise despite the impressive roster of horror veteran talent behind the camera, but it may appeal to fans who like looking for Easter Egg callbacks to better films.


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