All the talent surrounding Creepshow should make for a first season that’s, above all else, engaging. And the first episode—comprising segments based on King’s short story “Gray Matter” and Bird Box writer Josh Malerman’s story “The House of the Head”—displays a level of craft and tonal consistency that suggests more hits than misses to come (a ratio that horror fans accustomed to wildly uneven anthologies are sure to welcome).
After an intro that resuscitates The Creep from Romero and King’s original—here conjured as a ghoulish, teeth-gnashing puppet—Creepshow plunges into “Gray Matter,” a deep cut from King’s back catalog (out of his first short story collection, Night Shift). The story’s always been a fascinating transmutation of King’s own struggles with addiction; focusing on a young boy’s recounting of his grieving father’s transformation into an appetite-based monster, it’s a notoriously loaded little story, and Nicotero (directing the segment himself) plays up its body-horror elements to gruesome extremes. “The House of the Head,” the episode’s other segment, is lower-key in nature, involving a young girl’s dollhouse taking on a disturbing life of its own.
Neither segment is perfect, the former suffering from too goofy a tone and the latter failing to take its spooky setup far enough. But the pair is convincing as proof of creepy concept. Creepshow is clearly looking to channel the same kooky, playful energy of the original and the horror-stuffed EC Comics that inspired it. It just about manages that—all the while offering nascent horror writers and directors a leg up. You sense that the late Romero, especially, remembered for his commitment to low-budget, big-idea filmmaking, would whole-heartedly approve.
SKIP IT: ‘In the Shadow of the Moon’ (Netflix)
Every nine years, a serial killer strikes in Philadelphia, leaving victims with liqueified brains and unexplained puncture marks on their necks. Responding to one crime scene, cop Thomas Lockhart (Boyd Holbrook) chases down a suspect, a young woman (Cleopatra Coleman) who wears a blue hoodie and moves like a ninja—until she falls in front of a moving train, seemingly to her death.
That’s where the “sci-fi” elements of this disappointingly imitative genre mash-up come into play. Mixing sci-fi, detective, horror, and thriller clichés together into nothing worth writing home about, In the Shadow of the Moon follows Locke, as he’s known, across the decades as people start dying again, right on schedule, nine years later. Obsessively, Locke reopens the case, eventually connecting the dots together into a conspiracy involving lunar cycles, dystopian tomorrows, and Terminator-style timeline meddling. If it sounds generic, just wait for the big twist, which confirms it’s not only a knock-off but one so convinced of its own edge and import that you almost feel bad for laughing.