The season 2 premiere of Shudder’s Creepshow starts off with a wonderful tribute to horror, possibly capable of bringing a tear to one’s eye. In fact, the story “Model Kid” is an obvious nod to the original Creepshow film’s wraparound story (if you’ve seen that film, you’ll probably recognize the similarities fairly quickly).
It all begins with a “Gillman” character (like the Universal Monster) battling a Mummy (Jake Garber). It’s a fun start, and it ties into the overall story, but we quickly learn it’s a move-within-a-show kind of scene or an imagination sequence blended with memories from a real movie.
The episode’s central focus, Joe (Brock Duncan), who’s painting the figurines of such horror characters in his bedroom in Aurora, Illinois in 1972. We learn there’s a solid bond between Joe and his mother, June (Tyner Rushing).
Unfortunately, June is undergoing chemo treatment and ultimately must let Joe’s Aunt Barb (Jana Allen) and Uncle Kevin (Kevin Dillon). Joe is immediately belittled by Uncle Kevin, who makes fun of his Dracula costume and dismisses Bela Lugosi as a dope addict. Also, after seeing that school bully Billy Niles gave him a blackeye, Joe’s well-meaning mom also asks him to ease up on the “monster talk” out of a futile attempt to avoid bullying.
Creepshow reminds us movies are like time machines
Although Uncle Kevin’s moved in to annoy Joe, he could at least say he has his mom around. In fact, she reinvigorates his appreciation of horror by reminding him that classic movies are like time machines. Not only do the films themselves almost capture certain times and places in different bottles, but people often remember where they were (in person and in life) as they were watching something. Unfortunately, though, Joe’s mom dies while they watch a movie, further assuring he’ll have to withstand Uncle Kevin’s treatment alone.
Not long after the death of his mother, Uncle Kevin snarls that Joe needs to get rid of his “horror crap.” To emphasize his point, he even breaks one of Joe’s Grim Reaper figurines, when Joe is disinterested in chore day. Of course, Uncle Kevin is even more irate when his temporary lay-off becomes more permanent. Joe becomes more aggrieved, too, imagining a Frankenstein’s monster (Alex Hill) coming to life to snap Billy Niles’ neck!
Creepshow delves into some more serious terrain, as we see Aunt Barb with bruises on her arm. Then, when Kevin throws out a bunch of Joe’s monster models, Joe quips, “You’re the only monster around here!” Then comes a more genuinely magical moment: Joe’s film reel turns on by itself, and it doesn’t quite seem like it’s Joe’s imagination. His mom is actually in the movie and hands him a “Creepshow” comic book through the screen!
After flipping through its product pages, Joe orders something called “The Victim,” which is really just a voodoo doll. He must have had it rush-delivered, because it shows up in little time, and Joe quickly makes use of it. By manipulating The Victim, Uncle Kevin’s ankle gets twisted around and he eventually is given a fever. Then the kid’s gloves come off in spectacular fashion.
Joe doesn’t hold back much. There is somehow blood dripping down the wall, then Gillman re-emerges from the depths somewhere and throws Uncle Kevin around (almost like he was the voodoo doll or figurine). By the time the Mummy joins the party, all that’s left of Kevin is a torso and some scattered limbs. Obviously, Joe gets his revenge, but Aunt Barb is not very happy about it.
Public Television of the Dead
The second half of the Creepshow premiere retains the unrepentant horror motif and serves as an obvious homage to both the Evil Dead franchise and (oddly enough) public television. The story starts by introducing us to Mrs. Brookberry (Coley Campany) and her puppet, Henrietta. Working for the WQPS network in Pittsburgh, we only get a taste of her programming, but she warns kids about karma (which she simplifies to mean, “You do bad stuff, bad stuff will happen to you”). Though Brookberry isn’t an absolutely sinister villain, she is definitely a prima-donna who demands the timeslot of Norm Roberts (Mark Ashworth), thereby dooming his show to cancellation.
Norm is basically the Bob Ross of the Creepshow universe, as a host of the series “The Love of Painting.” By the time studio boss Claudia (Marissa Chanel Hampton) tells Norm his show is getting canceled, he already comes across as a genuine person, whereas “Brookberry” seems like a genuine loon. Interestingly, we also learn that Norm was in the military, and on the front line during the Tet Offensive. This is a nod to how the real Bob Ross was in the US Air Force).
The “Dead” part of the title comes in
Soon Creepshow introduces another show host at the station, Goodman Tapert (Peter Leake), host of an antique appraisal show. His current guest, Ted Raimi (played by Ted Raimi), has brook in a boob of the dead that he kept in his fruit cellar for years. By the time we learn it’s a Kandarian text called the Necronomicon, there’s absolutely no doubt it’s an on-the-nose homage to the Evil Dead franchise. In fact, it’s so overt it shouldn’t really be called an homage.
Anyway, passages are read, Ted gets demon-possessed, then kills Mr. Tapert. Then, with no hesitation, Norm stabs Ted in the back of the head, then sets his haunted face on fire. Of course, Ted’s not dead yet and heads out to kill Mrs. Brookberry, who also becomes demon-possessed. What follows is an action-packed sequence full of decapitations, deadly use of power tools, and possibly the reinstatement of Norm’s happy little painting show.
What are your thoughts on the Creepshow season 2 premiere? Let us know in the comments!