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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Shudder’s “Creepshow” Roll Call: The Monstrous Talent Behind Season One

After a record-setting premiere season, AMC Networks’ Shudder wasted no time renewing the Creepshow series for a second season. Based on George A. Romero’s classic 1982 anthology of the same name, Shudder’s scripted series fully embraced the EC Horror Comic homage to create new stories within the familiar framework of the film.

It wasn’t just the nostalgia and an overwhelming number of Creepshow Easter eggs that drew fans, but that it was clear labor of love from all involved, especially by showrunner Greg Nicotero. He took great care in paying tribute to George A. Romero’s legacy, and that reflected in all six episodes of the inaugural season. That started with the assemblage of serious talent at every single level of this production.

While planning for season two is well underway, the complete first season has finally arrived on Blu-ray and DVD from RLJE Films. To celebrate, we’re spotlighting the immense talent both in front of and behind the camera.

The Directors

Greg Nicotero – Showrunner, Executive Producer, Director, Writer

There’s not a facet of the Creepshow series that hasn’t been touched or overseen by Nicotero. It’s fitting, considering George A. Romero gave the prolific special makeup effects artist his start on Day of the Dead, where he learned his trade under the wind of Tom Savini. As his experience grew, so too did his passion and talent for the craft, and quickly. In 1988, Nicotero formed special makeup effects studio KNB EFX Group, who also provided Creepshow’s special makeup effects, with friends and colleagues Howard Berger and Robert Kurtzman. Over decades, the inexhaustible and high-profile artist has amassed a slew of award nominations and wins, including multiple Primetime Emmy awards for Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for Dune (2000) and The Walking Dead. Nicotero’s lifelong dedication to the genre, relationship to Romero’s work, as well as extensive work on The Walking Dead, makes him the perfect fit to continue Creepshow’s legacy. In addition to all of his other show duties, Nicotero also directed Creepshow segments “Gray Matter” and “The Finger.” The latter of which was penned by The Crow screenwriter David J. Schow.

John Harrison 

Another alma mater from Creepshow’s class of 1982, where John Harrison composed the score and served as first assistant director. His horror anthology credits hardly stop there, either, as he then went on to write, direct, and compose for Romero’s Tales from the Darkside TV series, Tales from the CryptTales from the Darkside: The Movie, and Book of Blood. For the Creepshow series, Harrison directed segments “The House of the Head,” by Bird Box‘s Josh Malerman, “All Hallow’s Eve,” “Night of the Paw,” and “Times is Tough in Musky Holler.”

Tom Savini 

Romero’s longtime collaborator and special makeup and gore effects wizard closed out the inaugural season by directing segment “By the Silver Waters of Lake Champlain,” based on Joe Hill’s short story. Savini’s early works on films MartinDawn of the Dead, and Friday the 13th propelled him into the spotlight. Savini was also responsible for handling all of the special makeup and creature effects for the original Creepshow, and he starred in Creepshow 2 as The Creep.

David Bruckner 

“The Companion” and “The Man in the Suitcase” director proved his horror anthology mettle with notable segments “Amateur Night” in V/H/S and “The Accident” in Southbound. On a larger scale, his creature feature, The Ritual, based on Adam Nevill’s novel of the same name, instilled nightmares in unsuspecting Netflix viewers. The unnerving haunter The Night House was snatched up immediately out of this year’s Sundance, and Bruckner’s recent attachment to Hellraiser proves this Creepshow director is on a dominant hot streak.

Roxanne Benjamin 

Before helming segments “Lydia Layne’s Better Half” and “Skincrawlers,” Benjamin made her directorial feature debut with young adult survival horror Body at Brighton Rock. She’s also proven to be a master of modern anthology horror with writing/directing credits for XX and Southbound and gained attention with the announcement that Orion had set her to pen the screenplay for the Night of the Comet remake. In addition to directing, Benjamin has proven to be a savvy producer, with notable credits under her belt like The Devil’s CandyFaults, and the V/H/S franchise.

Rob Schrab 

Proving that horror and comedy often go hand in hand, the writer/director of segment “Bad Wolf Down” long showed his aptitude for humor with an extensive career writing and directing prominent comedic hits like The Sarah Silverman ProgramCommunity, and Monster House. The latter of which offered a family-friendly gateway into the genre. Schrab’s segment in Creepshow reveals the director to be a well-versed genre fan, so here’s to hoping we see more from him in the future.

The Cast

It should be no surprise that the cast of Creepshow’s first season is just as stacked as the directors’ lineup. Kicking off the premiere episode is “Gray Matter,” based on Stephen King’s short story, and stars Creepshow veteran Adrienne Barbeau. The genre stalwart has also appeared in classics like The FogEscape from New YorkSwamp Thing, and so much more. Starring alongside her in the segment is prolific actor Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad) and the Jigsaw Killer himself, Saw’s Tobin Bell.

Episode two’s “Bad Wolf Down” stars none other than horror fan-favorite Jeffrey Combs (Re-AnimatorCastle Freak). He even brought his gloves from The Frighteners to portray Nazi leader Reinhard. Opposite him is musician/actor Kid Cudi. For the second episode’s “The Finger,” Supernatural and Z Nation’s DJ Qualls develops a bond with the show’s breakout creature, Bob.

Musician Big Boi appears in “The Man in the Suitcase,” written by Christopher Buehlman and directed by David Bruckner. Battlestar Galactica’s Tricia Helfer plays the titular character in “Lydia Layne’s Better Half.” Veteran actor Bruce Davison (X-MenInsidious: The Last Key) leads “Night of the Paw,” and Scream franchise actor David Arquette stars as Sheriff Deke in “Times is Tough in Musky Holler.”

In the final episode, Dana Gould stars as weight-loss program hopeful in the delightfully gruesome “Skincrawlers.” Known for his extensive work on The Simpsons, Gould has frequented Roxanne Benjamin’s genre work as well as created horror-comedy series Stan Against Evil.

The Crew

Robert Draper served as Director of Cinematography for all six episodes, contributing to the cohesive aesthetic of the series. KNB Effects Group founder, Academy Award-winning artist Howard Berger assisted as Makeup FX Consultant. Look for Makeup FX Supervisor Carey Jones (The New MutantsThe Walking Dead) to pull double duties as the Djinn in “The Man in the Suitcase” and the Scarecrow in “The Companion.” The ambitious Special Makeup Effects by KNB Effects Group were a significant part of the series’ success so far and filled with a roster of talented artists like Gino Crognale and Jack Garber. Crafty Apes handled VFX, led by Senior VFX Supervisor Mark Ledoux (Thor: RagnarokZombieland: Double Tap). Last by not least, production designer Aimee Holberg (Black PantherThe Walking Dead) contributed an impressive level of detail in such a quick production turnaround.

Nicotero assembled a Murderers’ Row of talent at every level of production, all vastly contributing to the overall success of season one.

“Creepshow” Season One is now on DVD and Blu-ray from RLJE Films.


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