Last week, Shudder, AMC’s streaming service focusing on horror, thrillers, and supernatural series, movies, and podcasts, debuted it’s new anthology series Creepshow. Reviving the franchise that Stephen King and George A. Romero began just under 40 years ago wasn’t an easy task, but episode one’s shorts knocked it out of the park. Now, with episode two, we’re getting two stories that while drastically different in theme from “Gray Matter” and “The House of the Head,” the stories of last episode, the new stories feel at home in the world of Creepshow.
The first story in episode two is from writer-director Rob Schrab, called “Bad Wolf Down.” Here, we meet a group of American soldiers during World War II who have found themselves trapped behind enemy lines with no option for escape. With the Nazis closing in on them, the group finds themselves pinned down in a police station where they have to make a choice, let the Germans win, or find an unconventional way to even the odds. In Creepshow fashion, they choose the latter. Anxious about their survival, the platoon of soldiers soon discover that there is a werewolf in their midst.
There is a heart to “Bad Wolf Rising” that truly captures the essence of what Creepshow means to horror, and of what it means to me. At its core, the franchise (we’re excluding Creepshow 3 here) is about storytelling, like any anthology worth its weight. As a product of the time, the extravagant practical effects and set pieces are an extension of the stories, not the camp that many have attributed to it. In “Bad Wolf Rising” we see a raucous embrace of practical magic in the design and use of the werewolf.
While there is humor in “Bad Wolf Rising,” it is meant to be dark and ultimately, it’s meant to be horror, and the use of the practical werewolf suit accentuates it. But this isn’t just because of the quality of the effects. Istead, it’s because that quality is met with a story that holds the weight of its characters. The police station is claustrophobic and the fear of the soldiers balances out the could-be-camp of the wolf-suit with a tense situation that creates a well-executed three-act creature feature with acting and emotion as strong as its monster.
But it is its story from writer David J. Schow and showrunner director Greg Nicotero that has it surpass”The House of the Head” as my favorite so far. In this second story, “The Finger,” an unhappy man name Clark narrates the events surrounding the time he found a severed, inhuman finger on the street. Taking it home, because that’s naturaly what someone does when there is a severed finger in the road, the finger grows into an arm, into a torso, and soon it’s a full little creature he affectionately names Bob.
Told from his perspective, we see Bob move from pet to murderer and how Clark deals with it all. The choice to tell the story from a specific narration with fourth wall moments where he stares into the camera and explains what’s happening perfectly accents the dark situations with humor. “The Finger” is a great segment because of this humor and ultimately because of its phenomenal puppetry with the practically made Bob.
Bob is adorable, vicious, and just the right amount of spooky. As a murderous pet, Bob brings out Clark’s darkness. The line between darkness and humor is navigated well in DJ Qualls’ performance, something he honed in Supernatural.
Everything in Creepshow’s second episode makes my practical effects-loving heart sing. In addition, the storytelling is top-notch. Shudder’s Creepshow has presented four stories, and each one shows that this reboot understands it’s origin while also maintaining its own identity. To put it simply, Creepshow is bringing us the stories for the spookiest of months.
New episodes of Creepshow premiere Thursdays at 9 pm ET/6 pm PT exclusively on Shudder.
'Creepshow,' Episode 2 - Bad Wolf Down / The Finger
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.