To properly understand why the Creepshow movies1 work, you need to understand their spiritual predecessor. EC Comics’ Tales from the Crypt delivered horror stories with edifying conclusions from 1950 to 1955, not unlike modern fables. It was something Stephen King and George Romero took to heart when they created their homage movies: a handful of short stories with demented morals, bound together by an overarching plot.
Thirty-two years after the second movie comes the proper follow-up in the form of a Shudder show. It is, if nothing else, an interesting entry in the franchise. It presents itself like Creepshow, but as it only has taken superficial inspiration from Tales from the Crypt, it ends up being something different. It’s odd. The fact that the show mainly was influenced by Creepshow and not Tales from the Crypt makes it feel less like Creepshow than it could have. It’s a good show in and of itself, it’s just not much of a Creepshow.
To wit, basing the first story on Stephen King’s Gray Matter is a suiting nod to the movies, but, creepy as the story is, it does little to deliver any sort of demented lesson. This matters, simply because the dramaturgy of both Tales from the Crypt and the original Creepshow was built around their endings. When the moral of the story is missing, we’re left with an eerie watch and a good showcase for old pros like Adrienne Barbeau and Tobin Bell. Of the four stories, only one – the darkly comedic
The Finger – comes close to being reminiscent of the originals.
Too, The Creep (the crypt keeper who is supposed to introduce the stories) has little in common with his predecessors. He’s there in imagery but has no speaking parts, and there’s really no reason for him to be in the show.
This does not change the fact that, for most people, none of that matters. While the heart and soul of Creepshow have changed, it’s still a well-developed show. Each episode is written and directed by different people, all of whom are of high caliber. Names like David Bruckner (V/H/S) and Greg Nicotero (The Walking Dead) add some gusto to the credit list.
I’m of two minds, then. Creepshow isn’t a particularly great entry in the franchise, but it’s a good standalone anthology. And judging from the upcoming episode descriptions, a story like
Skincrawlers from Paul Dini (of Batman: The Animated Series fame) sounds more like the movies and comics of yore.
We’ll see. Misgivings aside, I’m still watching the show, which means they’re doing something right.
Creepshow is streaming exclusively on Shudder.
1 Minus the third one which existed in name only.