Last week’s Creepshow unleashed the horrors of deep space and high school, but this week it goes deep below the grime of a slum apartment and beyond the realms of sanity. With lots of fantastic, nasty, scary creatures to be had brought to life in stunning FX! In a lot of ways, this week’s segments Pipe Screams and Within the Walls of Madness feel more in line with the original Creepshow movies in their own specific ways.
Our first tale of baked up abomination is Pipe Screams, which follows a plumber on hard times named Linus Carruthers (Eric Edelstein, Green Room) contracted by the obnoxious and uncaring landlord Victoria Smoot (Barbara Crampton, Jakob’s Wife) to fix a clog in the rundown apartment building she owns. Only for Linus to find out there’s something far worse than paper towels or scum stuck in the aged pipes of the building. Meeting the tenant Janet, (Selena Aduze, Doctor Sleep) they start to realize the true monster may not be the obvious one…
A classic Creepshow style tale of monstrous comeuppance from director Joe Lynch who also handled last week’s The Right snuff and horror author Daniel Kraus, Pipe Screams has everything you could want from such a tale. Quirky characters with a terrific cast, a moody setting, and one hell of a creature. In this case… Cloggy. Brought to beautiful, gross, retching life by the fine folks at KNB. Words won’t do it justice, it’s just something you gotta see to believe. This story was lighter and funnier than Lynch’s prior entry with lots of slapstick and splatstick as our errant plumber attempts to deal with the grimy beast in the apartment’s pipes. Lynch posting another Letterboxd list of influences in the making of this episode that put things in a clearer light.
Eric Edelstein does a phenomenal job as our errant plumber stuck between a rock and a hard place. Or stuck between financial ruin and one seriously pissed off pipe clog. Getting into some slimy brawls with the greasy thing from the drain in a fashion that would make Ashley J. Williams proud. Showing an earnestness as just a guy trying to get a paycheck and ending up have to deal with a monster… and the thing in the pipes. Speaking of, Barbara Crampton shines in what could be her most diabolical role yet: a short tempered, racist, cheap slumlord. Victoria is the classic kind of Creepshow creep, like the bastard of Upson Pratt and Wilma or “Billy” to her friends. Completely abhorrent to her tenants, Linus, and only caring about getting the job done slapdash so she can quickly get to her next bottle of expensive chardonnay. If you’ve ever experienced frustration or anger with your landlord, this story’s for you!
In our latter tale, we go deep into the bowels of the Earth and beyond in Within the Walls of Madness, a Lovecraft tinged cosmic horror story of insanity from showrunner Greg Nictotero and writer John Esposito and directed by Tales From The Darkside: The Movie‘s John Harrison. The story follows a man named Zeller (Drew Matthews, The Arbors) held in prison for murder and being interviewed by his duplicitous lawyer Tara Cartright (Brittany Smith, Venom) about the events that transpired at a secret government facility deep in the snowy mountains. Zeller was a part of a team conducting research with Doctor Trollenberg (Denise Crosby, Pet Sematary) that may have unleashed an unspeakable evil that picked off the staff. But is it real, or has Zeller truly succumbed to madness?
Another fun change of pace for Creepshow, particularly in the realm of cosmic and psychological horror. You can tell that Nicotero and Esposito wanted to tell their own story in those styles while creating something new, and they did a good job of putting the tropes and pieces together. Some details required repeat viewing to get a better grasp on, but for the most part it’s a solid and trippy tale. As the humans start to turn on one another and trust fades, they becomes as monstrous, if not more than whatever dwells within the walls.
Matthews and Cartright have a decent chemistry as they go toe to toe over what was really occurring in the facility and their different ideas of how to proceed with the court case. Crosby shines as the quite possibly mad Doctor Trollenberg as the truth of her experiments come out in more ways than one, pitting her and Zoller against each other. As always, top notch special and practical FX from KNB. Expect lots of tentacles and things from beyond.
Another solid issue of Creepshow, and with two episodes left this season I can only imagine what will be unleashed next!
Creepshow airs new episodes every Thursday on Shudder.