REVIEW: ‘Creepshow,’ Episode 5 – The Night of the Paw / Times is Tough in Musky Holler

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 The Night of the Paw / Times is Tough in Musky Holler

The Shudder Original horror anthology Creepshow inspired by the 1982 film of the same name by horror masters Stephen King and George Romero is nearing the end of its first season. And let’s be honest, the series, headed by showrunner Greg Nicotero, has been a beautiful return to the practical effects and moral tales of the original. Since its announcement, I have been looking forward to episode five which features two vignettes: “The Night of the Paw” and “Time is Tough in Musky Holler.”

Of all of the horror stories I’ve read, nothing has unnerved me like that of the monkey’s paw. “The Night of the Paw,” written by John Esposito and directed by John Harrison follows a lonely mortician who finds company in a young woman he’s rescued. While he is relieved to have a companion, she’s unnerved by his tale of the magical monkey paw that grants wishes to the user but with consequences to every wish.

The story is well-known, which allows Esposito to craft a story that doesn’t warrant too much exposition. That said, the choice to have the mortician, named Whitey (Bruce Davison), recount his tale to someone rather than taking us through the traditional look at the paw and its effects is a good one. While it differentiates itself from the original story, “The Night of the Paw” hits all the beats that it needs to, using flashbacks as Whitey explains his misfortune.

It’s in these sections, especially when the supernatural elements come into play, Harrison’s direction shifts the tone of the story. He does this by using vibrant backgrounds of solid color that adds not only a camp-aesthetic but also makes the supernatural happenings most distinct. Overall, “The Night of the Paw” does justice to an old tale while also making it feel brand new.

'Creepshow,' Episode 5 - The Night of the Paw / Times is Tough in Musky Holler

The second vignette in episode five sees David Arquette return to a police uniform. I feel like I need to make a Deputy Dewey joke, but I lack the comedic skill to do so in a way that isn’t just writing a sentence about it. Thankfully, the humor in “Times is Tough in Musky Holler” written by John Skipp and Dori Miller and directed by John Harrison, fairs way better than my need to mention Dewey.

This story opens up in a cell full of people who know each other, each trying to leverage their power in different ways or just cowering in the corner hoping nothing bad is going to happen. As the story moves along, we learn that the people in the cell aren’t just petty criminals but instead, leaders who once controlled a town through fear and intimidation. They are all set up to get a taste of their own medicine.

“Times is Tough in Musky Holler” is a story told backwards, relying on the new leader who is retelling the crimes of the leaders before they’re led to their punishment. After an earth-ending event, the imprisoned leaders rose up, taking over the town. But instead of replaying the events, “Times is Tough in Musky Holler” utilizes the signature Creepshow comic book panel style used in its wrap around to quickly bring the viewer up to speed, with enough interjections from the leaders to make it interesting exposition.

Episode five of Creepshow is now my favorite. In fact, there isn’t an episode so far that embodies the original anthology move better than this one. Whether its the practical effects or the obvious references to the franchise that came before it, “The Night of the Paw” and “Times is Tough in Musky Holler” are the best vignettes yet. With only one more episode left in the season, Shudder’s Creepshow has been one of the strongest revivals of an IP.

The final episode of Creepshow will be available exclusively on Shudder Thursday, October 31, 2019.

'Creepshow,' Episode 5 - The Night of the Paw / Times is Tough in Musky Holler
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    Rating - 10/10
10/10

TL;DR

Episode five of Creepshow is now my favorite. In fact, there isn’t an episode so far that embodies the original anthology move better than this one. Whether its the practical effects or the obvious references to the franchise that came before it, “The Night of the Paw” and “Times is Tough in Musky Holler” are the best vignettes yet. With only one more episode left in the season, Shudder’s Creepshow has been one of the strongest revivals of an IP.