Normally, I’d say a dartboard with ideas on it, and getting your Holiday special from that dartboard, is a bad idea. With the Creepshow: Holiday Special, that’s the exception. For a forty-five minute special, it packs in a lot. It’s a John Carpenter siege style-story, it’s about Christmas, it re-tells our thought of Santa (Satan) Claus, and it also has some shapeshifting people. You might think that Werewolves are the most popular in that group, but here we get to see the side of “Shapeshifters Anonymous” that goes into other animals.

A Creepshow Holiday Special stars Anna Camp as Irena, Adam Pally as Weston, Pete Burris as Scott, Frank Nicotero as Andy, Derek Russo as Ryan, and Candy McLellan as Phyllis. The special is written and directed by Greg Nicotero, who seems to be the master of all things Creepshow of late. With the half-good, half-bad effort of the Creepshow Animated Special from Halloween, would this one stack up better?

Making Something From Nothing

Anna Camp in A Creepshow Holiday Special
Courtesy of: Shudder

That’s a phrase that’s thrown around a lot in reviews these days. But here, it really fits. If I told someone that my idea for a Holiday Special was a group of people who can shapeshift into animals combat Santa Claus and his group of Mall Santas, you wouldn’t believe me. However, A Creepshow Holiday Special does just that. I usually think that Creepshow is a natural evolution from The Twilight Zone. It’s a more horror oriented version for sure. What you get here is a thrilling special that fits that mold.

At every turn in the Special, I was amazed at how well done it was. For something like this, you kind of expect it to either be poorly acted, or the effects to look like crap. On all fronts, it was the complete opposite. Sure, it being Creepshow, you have to ham it up a bit from the actors. But Frank Nicotero and Candy McLellan in particular both show off comedic chops that should get them more work.

Adam Pally and Anna Camp have a chemistry that comes off the screen. Even through Pally’s awkward, nebbish performance that turns into a more macho Werewolf later on, it shines through.

Finally, the creature effects were what I was most worried about. There are plenty of examples of “TV movie” style projects that have awful creature effects. Not only are these effects amazing, they look pretty functional. I would imagine that the giant Santa Claus would be a pain in the ass to work with, but it didn’t look like any of the other effects would be out of place on a film.

A Few Small Issues

The most menacing Santa Claus you can think of.
Courtesy of: Shudder

Some of the sexual humor might turn people off. There are a couple jokes here and there that might “cross a line” for some people. Either way, if you have a stick up your ass about sexual comedy, why are you watching A Creepshow Holiday Special in the first place? Through it all, there’s very little here to complain about. The ending is “slightly” anti-climactic, but it adds to the comedic feel of the whole thing. The stakes are high for our characters, but at the heart of it, this is still Creepshow.

Also the cameo at the end of the episode is slightly out of left field. I’m not sure a whole lot of people watching this special are going to recognize the famous person, but we’ll have to see. It doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of the whole special though.

A Fine Offering Of Horror And Holiday Cheer

Anna Camp and Adam Pally in A Creepshow Holiday Special.
Courtesy of: Shudder

Overall, if you have Shudder, this is worth a watch. If you don’t have Shudder, get the free trial, and watch this. If the last Creepshow Special was a misfire, this is a sure-thing. I’ll be putting this in my Holiday Rotation for years to come. After all, it’s worth taking a second look at old Jolly Saint Nick and his legacy.

For more on Shudder, Creepshow, and any other horror, make sure to check back to That Hashtag Show.