REVIEWED: SEASON 1 (EPISODE 1) | WHERE TO WATCH: SHUDDER
It’s been just over a decade since Stephen King’s love letter to 1950s horror comics graced our screens (and even longer since the franchise turned in a decent entry). Now, thanks to the horror streaming service Shudder, it’s back in all of its tongue-in-cheek gory [sic].
Our reintroduction to the world of Creepshow begins with Gray Matter, an adaptation of one of King’s short stories, published in Night Shift back in 1978. As a small New England town goes into lockdown when an impending storm threatens to tear it apart, only the Sheriff and a small crew are left to hold the fort. Then little Timmy shows up, worried about his ‘changing’ father and the horror begins to unfold. Next up is The House of the Head, featuring Rick Grimes’ little ass-kicker Cailey Fleming as a little girl who finds a creepy zombie head in her dolls house. As the days pass, she witnesses the poor doll family fall prey to a bloody haunting that causes her to finally intervene before it’s too late. If it isn’t already.
From the moment that Tobin Bell (Saw) and Creepshow alum Adrienne Barbeau appear on screen in the first episode, it’s pretty clear what you’re in for. This isn’t going to be high-end cerebral horror, but a gory and fun show that winks at the audience as much as providing the odd scare. Unlike the majority of the previous entries (the good ones at least), only the first episode comes from the twisted mind of Stephen King, leaving the creaking door wide open to a flurry of other writers such as Bird Box’s Josh Malerman and The Crow’s David J Schow to unleash their creepy imaginations upon us.
At just 20 minutes a pop, both of these stories just about manage to tick the right boxes. Gray Matter is certainly the goriest of the two although the monster itself really speaks more to the low budget aspects of this reinvention, while House of the Head is far creepier and installs a genuine feeling of dread even if it never quite delivers on it. On the whole, this first episode falls a little short of schlock and awe, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. If future episodes can balance the feel of the ‘80s horror genre with some truly inventive storytelling we could be in for more of a treat than feeling like we’ve been tricked.