Shudder’s Creepshow is a pretty big triumph of the anthology genre. Anthology horror can never die, it’ll always be relevant, and it’s practically the backbone of horror. At least from the first episode, you can expect two tales that give off those classic vibes. Ever since the Holiday Special late last year, the show has been on a tear. The first episode of a new season, especially one after a bit of a break, needs to be great. This time around, they set an incredibly high bar for the series. The first episode has two stories: “Model Kid” and “Public Television of the Dead”. Let’s start with “Model Kid”.

Kevin Dillon Plays One Of The Best Assholes In Modern Horror

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This story tells the somewhat sad tale of Joe (Brock Duncan). He’s a kid that any of us horror fans would want to be. He’s obsessed with monsters, figures, movies, the whole shebang. Except his mom (Tyner Rushing) works all the time, and he has a horrible Uncle named Frank (Kevin Dillon). His mom is caring, but she’s gravely ill. She succumbs to her ailment and passes away. Joe is left with his Aunt Barb (June Allen) and Frank.

Frank is played masterfully by Dillon, who just throws himself fully into being as big of a macho, overbearing, asshole, as he can. He breaks Joe’s toys, makes fun of the movies he watches, and just all around makes Joe’s already tough life, tougher. Writer John Esposito did a good job here with giving the cast material to work with, but not being too over the top with the dialogue or emotions. It’s a heavy subject that rides the line between overly emotional and understated perfectly.

Emulating Creepshow Without Retreading

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This half of the episode could have just been a retread of the frame of the original Creepshow movie with Tom Atkins being an asshole. It pays homage to that frame, but does it in a different enough way to where it feels original. Wherever there’s horror, there’s going to be dummies that feel the need to bring fans of the genre down. Frank is no different than those people. And boy, does he pay the price. The moments with the monsters coming to life from Joe’s action figures are some of the best effects on the show. Particularly the hilarious last section where Frank finally gets his comeuppance.

It’s really a perfect way to kick off the second season of the show. It ends in a perfect horror anthology fashion. I won’t spoil it, but just watch it to get the full effect of what controlling monsters can do to someone.

“Public Television Of The Dead” Is Worth The Price Of Admission Alone

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What happens when Bob Ross has to fight Deadites from Evil Dead and destroy the Necronomicon? That would have been the logline I’d sell this episode with. Both episodes are set in the 70’s/80’s with this one being at a public television studio like PBS or something similar. You’ve got all the key elements: a kids host who’s really a foul-mouthed manipulative person, a painting show host who’s seen some serious shit, and an Antiques Roadshow knockoff with Ted Raimi. You can tell that writer Rob Schrab was a fan of public television and horror, because he nailed both. Director Greg Nicotero probably can direct horror in his sleep, but the visual queues and choices he made in this episode show the love of the genre as well.

The real highlight is Norm Roberts though. Played by Mark Ashworth, he’s an amalgamation of Bob Ross and someone who’s seen way too much in Vietnam. Not quite John Rambo, but he does a great job battling Deadites. This episode starts one place and goes directly somewhere else by the middle of it. It’s a twist that should bring a smile to horror fans faces.

If This First Episode Is Any Indication, Watch Out For The Rest Of The Season

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Creepshow should be all about paying homage to horror through the years. Anthology horror works so well, because you have a limited time to tell the story, so you better do it right. What both of these stories do so well, is encapsulating a story that probably couldn’t be a feature length movie, but doing it fantastically in about twenty-five minutes each. The acting is classic horror, and at the end of the day, it’s what you want out of a Creepshow story.

Check out the episodes when season two premieres April 1st on Shudder.

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