Spoilers ahead for Shudder’s new horror anthology series Creepshow.
In his review for Creepshow, our own Vinnie Mancuso praised director Greg Nicotero‘s commitment to practical effects in horror, “creating a purposely cheesy ode to practical grossness and horror comics best read under the covers with a flashlight… [F]or fans of a specific over-the-top B-movie sensibility, Shudder’s Creepshow is a treat.”
Vinnie’s take is spot on. Blessed with the opportunity to visit the set along with a small group of fellow journalists, I got an up-close-and-personal look at the stunning practical work provided by Nicotero’s expert effects artists and the show’s incredible production team. So at 4 in the morning, when a stunt performer in practical, full-body “fungus monster” suit was led onto set–a set dressed corner to corner in mold, rot, discarded beer cans, and animal carcasses (plus a lot of Stephen King Easter eggs squirreled away in the shadows)–I knew I was buying whatever Creepshow was selling.
If you aren’t familiar with (or already a fan of) the original one-two punch of the 80s feature-length Creepshow anthologies, horror-streaming service Shudder is bringing the short story adaptations to the small screen in series form for the first time. There are some other changes coming: The original movies featured adaptations of horror stories told in the pages of the 1950s EC Comics; the new series pulls from award-winning and acclaimed writers, including Stephen King, whose short story “Gray Matter” provided the nightmare fodder for the premiere episode’s very first segment. And rather than one sitting with five spooky segments, fans will be treated to six episodes, each featuring two segments, released weekly; if you’re following along at home, that means the season finale will arrive on Halloween. Brilliant.
In preparation and celebration of Creepshow‘s arrival this Friday, we wanted to share everything we learned behind the scenes of the Shudder series. We’ll have full interviews posting throughout the week but tidbits follow below.
For our set visit, we had a chance to watch Nicotero work his magic on the adaptation of King’s story, “Gray Matter.” We also chatted with Byron Willinger and Philip de Blasi (The Commuter), who adapted this story for the screen, and stars Adrienne Barbeau (1982’s Creepshow, The Fog), Giancarlo Esposito (Better Call Saul), and Tobin Bell (Saw). Keep an eye out for all of those stories this week.
The second segment, “House of the Head,” was written by Josh Malerman (Bird Box) and directed by John Harrison (Book of Blood, Tales from the Crypt); Harrison was also the first assistant director for George Romero on the original Creepshow movie.
Other segments coming this season include: “By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain” by Joe Hill, “The Companion” by Joe R. Lansdale, Kasey Lansdale and Keith Lansdale; “The Finger” by David J. Schow; “Lydia Layne’s Better Half” by John Harrison and Greg Nicotero; “Night of the Paw” by John Esposito; “Bad Wolf Down” by Rob Schrab; “All Hallows Eve” by Bruce Jones; “The Man in the Suitcase” by Christopher Buehlman; “Times is Tough in Musky Holler” by John Skipp and Dori Miller; and “Skincrawlers” by Paul Dini and Stephen Langford.
Horror legend Tom Savini will direct the segment “By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain” for the season finale; Savini also personally oversaw the creation of “Champy”, a creature for the segment that should be familiar to cryptid fans out there. Barbeau can also be heard doing a bit of voice-over work in this segment.
Rob Schrab (Monster House) will be directing the other segment in the finale “Bad Wolf Down” from his own original story set during World War II and featuring both werewolves and Nazis, as you do. Kid Cudi and Jeffrey Combs star.
Savini also gave us the inside scoop on some of the Creepshow Easter eggs that fans will be able to spot throughout the series’ run, if they’re sharp-eyed enough. You’ll want to be on the lookout for the iconic ashtray (which appeared in every segment of the original) … which also appears in every segment of the new series! The same ashtray itself, which was on loan from the collector, can also be seen in miniature during the “House of the Head” sequence.
Some other Easter eggs in the opening segment, which you may or may not be able to spot on screen, include a toy version of the 1958 Plymouth Fury from King’s “Christine”, a picture of Pennywise, and skeletons of Church and Mr. Jingles in the apartment. There are over 50 Easter eggs in this set alone.
Property master Lucas Godfrey gave us the inside scoop on more Easter eggs; there are a bunch scattered throughout the dollhouse, like a miniature version of The Crate, a scene of Ted Danson’s Creepshow character drowning on the TV screen, Chief Wooden Head in various poses, the typewriter from The Shining, the bucket from Carrie, and the Creepshow voodoo doll.
In the segment “Skincrawlers”, a miraculous weight-loss cure (in the form of a fat-eating fluke) inevitably terrorizes a TV studio. During the live broadcast of cable news program “America Live”, a sequence plays out that may or may not involve the use of the evocative-sounding effects device, the “blood-cannon.” Dana Gould stars.
“Lydia Layne’s Better Half”, directed by Roxanne Benjamin (Body at Brighton Rock) and starring Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica, Lucifer), sees a powerful woman deny her protege (and lover) a promotion without thinking through the consequences; anyone with a fear of being trapped in an elevator during an earthquake had best avoid this segment, written by Harrison and based on a story by Harrison and Nicotero.
Robert Draper (The Fosters) performed as the director of photography on every episode, giving the anthology series a consistent look.
KNB EFX group, originally founded by Robert Kurtzman, Greg Nicotero, and Howard Berger, handled the practical effects work for Creepshow, including veteran artist Gino Crognale (The Walking Dead).
In addition to the full-body prosthetics suit I mentioned above (worn by series stunt coordinator Andy Rusk), another high-profile practical build was the Creep itself, which plays havoc with the audience during the opening, in-betweens, and end credits as a wraparound character and homage to the original Creep.
“Times Is Tough in Musky Holler,” starring David Arquette, tells a tale about small-town leaders who get what’s coming to them. John Harrison directs from a script written by John Skipp and Dori Miller, based on their short story. This one features the “Chamber of Chairs”, a particularly bizarre form of torture and punishment involving zombies in a very unique way.
“The Companion” tells the harrowing tale of a monstrous, indestructible scarecrow.
DJ Qualls (The Man in the High Castle, Supernatural) is set to star in “The Finger”, another short directed by Nicotero. The story centers on a finger that turns into a personal vigilante for Qualls’ character; his apartment address is 1408, another nod to a King short story.
Creepshow premieres on Shudder on Friday, September 26th.
Creepshow is produced by the Cartel with Monster Agency Productions, Taurus Entertainment, and Striker Entertainment: Stan Spry, Jeff Holland, and Eric Woods are executive producers for the Cartel; Nicotero and Brian Witten are executive producers for Monster Agency Productions; Robert Dudelson, James Dudelson and Jordan Kizwani are executive producers for Taurus Entertainment; Russell Binder is executive producer and Marc Mostman co-executive producer for Striker Entertainment.
For more on Creepshow, be sure to get caught up with our recent write-ups linked below:
- First Trailer for Shudder’s ‘Creepshow’ Will Keep You Awake Tonight
- Giancarlo Esposito on ‘Better Call Saul’, ‘The Godfather of Harlem’, ‘Creepshow’ and Spike Lee
- ‘Creepshow’ Series Adds Horror Legend Tom Savini as Director of a Joe Hill Adaptation
- Shudder’s ‘Creepshow’ Cast Features Adrienne Barbeau, Giancarlo Esposito, & Tobin Bell
- Greg Nicotero’s ‘Creepshow’ Series Will Adapt Stories by Stephen King, Joe Lansdale, & More