Shudder Creepshow

We’re only nine days out from the debut of Shudder’s new series, Creepshow, and if the debut episode is any indication, we’re in for a real treat.

Based on the concept from 1982’s Creepshow written by Stephen King and directed by George A. Romero, each episode features two creepy stories filled with comic panels, frenetic scene changes, and of course, the ever presenter Creeper.

The first episode fittingly begins with an adaptation of King’s “Gray Matter,” the story of a man whose drinking habit, exacerbated by his wife’s death, leads to an insatiable hunger for more.

The segment stars genre icon Adrienne Barbeau, who appeared as the obnoxious alcoholic Billie in the first Creepshow film, as well as Tobin Bell (Saw) and Giancarlo Esposito (Better Call Saul). All three stars seem to be having the time of their lives as they navigate the story’s increasingly strange landscape.

Barbeau, in particular, stands out. Let’s face it, part of any horror story is embracing the weird and sometimes absurd, and the woman who once found herself fed to a monster in a crate does so with style and a feverish sense of urgency that really sells the story she’s telling.

Director Greg Nicotero (The Walking Dead), meanwhile, pulled out all the stops for “Gray Matter,” filling the story with a ton of Easter eggs for fans of Stephen King and the original Creepshow while driving home the creepy/fun combination that makes this feel like a deleted segment of the original film.

What is most surprising, however, is that “Gray Matter” ultimately feels like a savory appetizer setting the audience up for the main course in the second segment of the episode titled “The House of the Head.”

Written by Josh Malerman (Bird Box) and directed by John Harrison (Tales from the Darkside: The Movie), the story concerns a young girl named Evie (Cailey Fleming) who is given an elaborate, beautiful dollhouse by her parents. She spends her time playing with the family who lives in her own little imaginary world until one day when a tiny severed head appears from nowhere and life inside the dollhouse takes a decidedly dark turn.

Malerman crafts an intense and satisfying story in the most unlikely of spaces, creating real terror from inanimate objects.

Fleming (The Walking Dead) proves she can carry a story all by herself. Her performance is beautifully measured throughout as she scrambles to thwart an inexplicable evil while keeping her parents, played by Rachel Hendrix and David Shae, completely in the dark.

Harrison, again, taps into the nostalgia of Creepshow to create visuals that are stunning and ever so slightly tongue-in-cheek to entertain while creating a real sense of dread.

Creepshow is set to debut on September 26, 2019 at 9 pm EST on Shudder and On Demand, and after seeing this initial episode, I personally cannot wait to see what the rest of the series has in store.