Creepshow has a special place in my horror-loving heart since I was ten. The original anthology film, which debuted in 1982, was written by the king of horror himself, Stephen King, and directed by the man who gave birth to the modern zombie, George A. Romero. The collection of five short stories sparked my undying love for horror anthologies that was nurtured to maturity by the Midnight Society from Are You Afraid of the Dark.
When Shudder announced that they were reviving this iconic piece of media into an anthology series with Greg Nicotero at the helm I was both hesitant and excited. Would it have the same dark charm? Would the production quality work well for the current time period? Would the scares be rooted in more than just shock? With episode one, Creepshow answered yes to all of those questions. In this new format, each episode holds two self-contained stories and in episode one we got “Gray Matter” and “The House of the Head.” These stories couldn’t be more different, while simultaneously holding my attention and unsettling me to my bones.
In the first story, “Gray Matter,” a story first published in 1973, is King’s 1978 Night Shift is adapted by Byron Willinger and Philip de Blasi, and directed by showrunner Nicotero, we get a start to the series that feels pulled from the original. In it, we see Doc (Giancarlo Esposito) and Chief (Tobin Bell), two old-timers in a small, dying town as they brave a storm to check on Richie, an alcoholic single father, after his terrified son arrives at the local convenience store on a beer run for him but refuses to go back.
The ensuing story deals with substance abuse and the everlasting change that grief, especially when not processed, has on a person. It’s a deep story that still offers up a dark charm, due in large part to our two old men. While Esposito and Bell don’t have too much by way of displaying their friendship, from the moment the camera focuses on them there is undeniable energy between the two actors that make them the perfect characters to follow through “Gray Matter.”
The exploration of grief is something I didn’t expect and the backdrop of a missing child, the impending storm, and the son’s description of his father’s descent into alcoholism is the perfect blend that delivers an emotional and interesting narrative. This makes “Gray Matter,” the absolute right choice to start this season of Creepshow, and it only got better in “The House of the Head.”
The second story, “The House of the Head,” written by Josh Malerman and directed by John Harrison, showcases the ability of childhood toys to be absolutely unsettling in the banalest of ways when young Evie discovers her new dollhouse might be haunted. From the excitement of imagining a toy family with backstories and relationships to fit into her new dollhouse to a mysterious new addition to her playtime, we watch Evie come to terms with the evil lurking in her toy. As innocuous and innocent as toys are, “The House of the Head” offers up a very different story from “Gray Matters” but it is just as good and it’s own brand of scary.
Overall, this revival of Creepshow carries the legacy of the original while reviving it with an identity all it’s own. This year has been a great year for horror, specifically horror television shows with The CW’s Two Sentence Horror Stories and AMC’s The Terror: Infamy, and Shudder’s Creepshow is here to close out the year with a boo with its nostalgia and storytelling.
Creepshow premieres Thursday, September 26 at 9 pm ET/6 pm PT exclusively on Shudder.
'Creepshow,' Episode 1 - "Gray Matter" / "The House of Head"
Overall, this revival of Creepshow carries the legacy of the original while reviving it with an identity all it’s own. This year has been a great year for horror…and Shudder’s Creepshow is here to close out the year with a boo with its nostalgia and storytelling.