Based on the iconic film from writer Stephen King and director George A. Romero comes the Shudder Original series, Creepshow. Creepshow is an anthology series featuring a series of short stories comprised of two stories per episode. Episode 1 consists of the shorts “Gray Matter” and “The House of the Head“. Creepshow Episode 1 makes it’s official debut Thursday, September 26 on Shudder.
Gray Matter is based on the Stephen King short and adapted by Philip de Blasi and Byron Willinger. The episode is directed by The Walking Dead and Creepshow executive producer Greg Nicotero. Gray Matter follows a teenage boy, Timmy, who follows his usual routine of picking up his father’s cheap beer at a local convenient store. Sitting around the store is shop owner (Adrienne Barbeau), Chief (Tobin Bell), and Doc (Giancarlo Eposito). Timmy hesitantly tells them that he wishes to not go home. Chief and Doc decide to delivery the father’s beer themselves. Timmy reveals to the shop owner that his father may have a sinister secret he is hiding from the public.
Gray Matter is a fantastic opening episode to this very promising series. Nicotero’s directing is very streamlined and tight. The characters are fleshed out and developed really well in the short runtime. The tension Nicotero brings to the episode is palpable. Moreover, the short feels like a campfire story which works so well in an anthology series.
“A new generation of horror has risen from the dead.”
The cast is pitch perfect. Bell (Saw) and Barbeau (The Fog) are no strangers to the horror genre. Both deliver strong performances and their on screen presence adds levity to the story. Newcomer Christopher Nathan delivers a very strong child performance as Timmy. With the fast pace and immediate character development, this allows for the tension to ratchet up to eleven nearly immediately.
This first segment perfectly sets up what to expect from the series and has you begging for more. The wraparound with The Creeper had me giddy like a child. The use of the classic comic book format works marvelously to intertwine these short stories. The effects of The Creeper and the comic book imagery is executed perfectly and proves that the series knows exactly what it is.
The House of the Head
Written by Bird Box scribe Josh Malerman, The House of the Head follows a young girl and her favorite dollhouse. Strange things begin to happen in her make-believe oasis as a decapitated head appears in her dollhouse. The head begins to appear in different locations throughout the house, unraveling it’s mysterious intentions.
Malerman’s script is streamline and wastes no time setting up the impending danger for out young heroine. The scares in the segment are perfectly executed and uses the dollhouse to the fullest effect. The inanimate figurines that inhabit the house become characters themselves through the imagination of the young girl. Subsequently, the figurines never move or speak, but their reactions placed on their faces sends shivers down your spine.
With most of the main characters and the main threat as inanimate objects, a lesser director would have trouble finding a connection between the objects and the audience. Director John Harrison builds great suspense with the figurines and a real threat in a severed head toy. In conclusion, the segment is a fun thrill-ride full of twist and turns that will scare an audience of all ages.
Creepshow Episode 1 is a fun ride beginning to end. In short, with most anthology series some stories are stronger than others. However, in the case of Episode 1, both segments are really strong and build suspension in very different ways. I am excited to see what the series has in store next!
Creepshow begins streaming September 26 on Shudder.