Episode 303 of Shudder’s Creepshow begins with a story all about art-related Japanese ghosts and monsters. Bobby Tanaka (Joe Ando-Hirsh) is the last descendant of a famous and enigmatic artist named Tsuburaya (Joseph Steven Yang).
Bobby is set to inherit a mysterious piece of his ancestor’s work that has yet to be revealed to anyone but the artist. We are also introduced to Dr. Mai Sato (Gina Hiraizumi), a more serious and principled member of the art curator world.
Dr. Sato instantly clashes with billionaire Wade Cruise (Brandon Quinn) and his companion, Geesa (Jade Fernandez), who ostentatiously enters to flaunt his wealth by buying “the last Tsuburaya.” Wade tries to talk Bobby into selling the inherited art piece to him.
Understandably, Bobby agrees to Wade’s offer, after he cynically dwindled it down. However, Wade adds the stipulation that Bobby must give it over without ever seeing it.
Though Dr. Sato does not like the deal, it is finalized, and Wade Cruise gets his wish of having collected a piece of art history that no one else will ever see. Only he will know whether the image is of a monstrous form that would excite people or a relatively “boring” butterfly or nature scene (being Creepshow, the standard viewer will have a definite guess regarding what kind of imagery awaits).
Creepshow and the quaint glamor of destroyed art
After selfishly viewing the painting, Wade burns it in from of everyone in the room, declaring, “Now it exists in the most exclusive gallery of all: My mind.” Creepshow also informs us that Wade excels in this unique form of wealth-flexing art-related sadism.
For example, he once declined to buy a vase from an artist he previously respected, refusing to give the man’s daughter a heart transplant from the money of the prospective sale. However, art seemingly has its revenge.
Mr. Cruise ends up seeing the Tsuburaya monster in his luxurious home (including in the mirror, which obviously hints at Wade’s personality). For a little bit, Wade hides in the closet, but then he heads to the office of attorney Mitch Duclon (Kenny Alfonso).
After various freaky encounters with the monster, Wade stabs, shoots, and then impales it, to discover that the creature is a cursed Tsuburaya himself. As an added twist, Wade starts becoming the monster but impales himself, appearing to (perhaps) end the curse, or at least stall it.
In a way, then, this Creepshow segment is about how even artwork can become a social ill when dealt with and collected for the wrong reasons. Ouch!
Okay, I’ll Bite!
The next story in this Creepshow episode, centers on Fiorina Federal Prison where an inmate named Elmer Strick (Nicholas Massouh) is curiously feeding something in the wall of his cell. We soon meet another prisoner, Frank Kowalski (KA “Polish Frank,” played by Tony DeMil), who is hostile to Elmer.
It is also apparent that Elmer has skills as a chemist, which perhaps makes him a unique prisoner. After Elmer’s parole is denied, it appears his life is not on the path to improvement.
Then we meet Officer Bunk Dill (Jackson Beals), a prison guard who prevented Strick from being paroled, keeping Elmer in prison to manufacture opium at a profit for Mr. Bunk. Oh, and it should also be mentioned that Elmer Strick has an affinity with spiders!
We also meet Officer Willis (Glenn Magee), a much nicer guard, though still a prison guard. As the story progresses, we learn that Elmer’s given his pet spiders interesting names like Min (an Egyptian god of fertility) and Hecate (Greek goddess of boundaries, crossroads, witchcraft, the Moon, necromancy, and ghosts).
Elmer’s venom and spidery vengeance
This Creepshow story demonstrates that Elmer Strick is actually a relatively benign character, under normal circumstances. He wanted to synthesize venom to treat pain and is in prison for mercy killing his mother.
He soon received a letter with some sort of recipe/incantation, and we learn the giant spider is named Sekhmet (an Egyptian goddess of war). Shortly after that, Polish Frank shows up to menace poor Elmer for being late with his opium, breaking one of Strick’s fingers and, as further insult, mashing one of the spiders.
Another spider reacts to Polish Frank’s cruelty by biting him in the eye. Tired of being a lowly opium producer, Elmer decides he’ll whip up a fresh batch of something else instead: Revenge!
As the prison decides to fumigate against Elmer’s spiders, Strick activates his majestic plan, reciting the words: “Hail to thee, oh great majestic, come to me and consume my soul!” Basically, Elmer transforms into a giant, magical spider and kills Bunk, wrapping the corpse into a web and sucking him of any life-sustaining power.
What are your thoughts on this extra creepy Creepshow episode? Which episode from season 3 has scared you the most so far?
Let us know in the comments! You can watch Creepshow on AMC+.