So when you think of Halloween, a couple things come up. Horror, pumpkins, monsters, ghouls, ghosts, and of course, anthology style television. So in comes Shudder to combine a good portion of that list into one animated special. If you aren’t familiar with Shudder, and you’re a horror fan, you need to be. It’s basically a specialized streaming platform for only horror. So if you’ve always wanted that year-long fix of horror, Shudder is the place. For the holiday, they’ve created a Creepshow Animated Special.
The special includes two stories, so it isn’t a full-length feature, but it’s around 45 minutes. So it’s long enough to keep you busy. Greg Nicotero, of The Walking Dead, directed the special. The two stories were written originally by Stephen King and Joe Hill. So you’d imagine this would be a fantastic display of horror just in time for Halloween?
Sadly, no, it’s not. For a couple reasons. Before we tear into it, let’s go over the two stories we get here.
The Two Stories Of Shudder’s Creepshow Animated Special
This one is pretty standard Creepshow affair. It’s the story of a man (voiced by Kiefer Sutherland) who is stuck on a deserted island. It starts off very standard for the Castaway type of story. Except this time, we’re getting the incoherent ramblings of a man using heroin as a sedative for his operations… on himself. The man goes through his life and how he got here, and it leads to him performing surgery on a foot that’s injured, among other horrendous things.
This one really didn’t capture my attention until late in the story. It’s just a pretty standard story up until that point. I guess that’s the beauty of Creepshow, that you get a story that sounds pretty generic and then ramps up pretty quickly. Kiefer Sutherland is the only star here, but he’s what makes the whole thing work. His voiceover is full of passion and energy (and a lack of energy due to starvation). So you really feel all the things that this guy has to go through.
As a story that we’re getting only from this one point-of-view, it’s pretty well told. So if I’m going to give the story a score, “Survivor Type” gets a 4 out of 5. It starts off slow, but I think that’s on purpose. This one felt very much like the classic Creepshow vibe. So it’s definitely worth a watch.
“Twittering From The Circus Of The Dead”
This one was bad. Like really bad.
“Twittering from the Circus of the Dead” probably set out to make a commentary on how people, especially young people, are on their phones too much. But with commentary, you can’t hit people over the head with it. And if you’re going to hit people over the head with it, you better do it in a fantastic way, like John Carpenter does in They Live. In this short, it didn’t do that.
We get two halves of a story here, really. The first half, which includes Joey King giving us details about her family that don’t ever pay-off to anything. The family is her mom, her dad, and her brother. All the while the girl is Tweeting her experience with her family and how she dislikes them.
Eventually the family ends up at a strange Circus on their road trip. It’s not explained why, or how they end up here, but they do. It’s called the Circus of the Dead. What follows is one of the more unbelievable stories that I’ve seen in horror.
You can suspend disbelief when you watch a film or a show like this. You have to. But at a certain point, something stretches that suspension to the breaking point. This wasn’t unwatchable, but it was hard to watch because of the quality of the story. It just wasn’t a good horror story. It didn’t feel like Creepshow. Overall, I’d give this a 1.5 out of 5. It was plain bad, but the artwork for it was great.
The Overall Score For Shudder’s Creepshow Animated Special
This was half an enjoyable experience. The first story was a good horror story in the classic vein of Creepshow. The second story was bad and has little redeeming qualities. Because of the characteristics of the first story, it makes sense why there’s only one voice-over. In the second story, it does not. It suffered from multiple issues, but the biggest was that it was trying to make a commentary on cell-phone use, but failed doing that.
If you’re surfing around on Shudder this Halloween season, the first story in the Creepshow Animated Special is well worth the watch. Just turn it off after that one, you won’t miss the second story much. It’s disappointing that they couldn’t have chosen a better story to combine the two. Creepshow and anthology horror are some of my favorite things in the genre. Hopefully this means that we’ll get more animated specials like this.
There’s a lot of potential in a medium like this, they just have to have some better stories to pick from. Overall, you could just average the scores from both of them, but that’s a bit lazy. If you’re a big fan of horror and Creepshow give it a watch.
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