A grimy, sleazy creature feature and some serious Lovecraftian vibes collide in this week’s episode of Creepshow. This series is showing no sign of slowing down four episodes into its sophomore season. I’ve said it before, but the statement is worth repeating: it’s clear that everyone is having an absolute blast on Creepshow season two. While not as strong as last week’s home run of an episode, there is plenty of fun to be had with this pair of segments.
The first segment, “Pipe Dreams,” is a grimy creature feature set in a rundown apartment building with a plumbing problem from hell. Barbara Crampton is playing against type here as a real “rhymes with witch” slumlord who just wants to drink chardonnay (“It won’t drink itself”) and make easy money. Her character is over the top and obnoxious–perfect for the type of segment she’s in. When she hires a plumber (Eric Edelstein) to fix a clogged pipe system, he finds that the clog is more than just a clump of hair and grease.
Director Joe Lynch, who also helmed last week’s stellar segment “The Right Snuff,” lets loose on the comedy here. While his previous segment was restrained and somber, this one is all fun and games. The drain creature is equal parts the Blob and the Leprechaun, toying with its victims while it oozes toward them. This is B-movie madness, and the stand off between the plumber and the creature in the apartment of a single mother (Selena Anduze) is well staged and reminiscent of the Ash vs. Hand scene in Evil Dead 2. Lynch has always had a love for B-movie midnight cinema, and this might be one of his best love letters to that genre.
People who want their horror more grounded might find the tone of this segment off putting. It’s quite possibly one of the zaniest segments so far, but if you tune into its wavelength, it’s twenty minutes of pure bliss. When the segment ended, I was left with two things: a big, cheesy grin and the thought that Joe Lynch and Barbara Crampton should collaborate more often. (Rating: 4.5/5)
“WITHIN THE WALLS OF MADNESS”
After laughing and cringing through a greasy hair blob eating people, the Creep then invites us to watch the unholy lovechild of H.P. Lovecraft and John Carpenter’s The Thing. When an arctic expedition goes horribly wrong, a young college student (Drew Matthews) is accused of murder. Told in a non-linear format, this segment’s main story is told mostly in flashbacks. Unfortunately, this means that this is an exposition heavy short that loses tension every time it jumps back to the debriefing.
That’s not to say that this segment is bad; it’s just not as strong as it could have been. The scenes in the arctic research facility are well designed and acted, with Denise Crosby of Pet Sematary fame playing the unscrupulous head of the research team. The episode waits to show the monster until the final moments of the episode, creating a build up to a finale that should make Lovecraft fans very happy. It’s cosmic horror done well, but the split narrative choice diminishes the storytelling, and it winds up feeling a little derivative of other works. (Rating: 2/5)
There’s a lot to like in this episode of Creepshow. While it falls into the familiar trap of one strong segment paired with a weaker one, it manages to deliver something for everyone. At this point, Joe Lynch has directed two of the best segments of the season; it would be a treat to receive more episodes with him at the helm. Casting directors should also take note of Barbara Crampton. She’s been putting out some of her career-best work for the past decade now.
Overall Score 3.5/5
A new episode of Creepshow drops every Thursday exclusively on Shudder!
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