A Creepshow Animated Special is a logical expansion for the franchise that began with the beloved 1982 anthology film based on a fictional comic book of the same name. It inspired a pair of sequels, (if you weren’t aware of Creepshow 3 be thankful and forget I mentioned it), and a graphic novel. In 2019 AMC’s streaming service Shudder revived it as a series.
And now that series’ showrunner Greg Nicotero has directed and co-written with Melanie Dale an animated version that adapts Stephen King’s “Survivor Type” and Joe Hill’s “Twittering At the Circus of the Dead”. Nicotero has a long history as an effects man and director of live-action TV, but can he make the move to animation?
First up is “Survivor Type”. For years this was a hard story to find, reputedly because of how gruesome it was. The subject matter is indeed gross, but it’s not that over the top. And the style of animation they use here further dilutes it so don’t be expecting anything truly disturbing.
It’s a one character story about a surgeon turned drug dealer (Kiefer Sutherland, Lost Boys, 24) who finds himself stranded on an island with no supplies but most of his stash. And he’ll do whatever it takes to stay alive. The screener came with a warning about spoilers, but even if you haven’t read the story it isn’t hard to see where the plot is heading. It’s actually a grimly funny tale of a scumbag getting what’s coming to him.
“Twittering from the Circus of the Dead” is up next. A tale of social media gone wrong that starts with a young woman, Blake (Joey King, Kissing Booth, The Conjuring) stuck on vacation with her family. She takes to Twitter to announce she’s so bored she wishes she was dead. We know that won’t end well. And when a detour takes them past a roadside attraction called Circus of the Dead she may get her wish.
The original story was structured as a series of Tweets which obviously they couldn’t do here. As a more conventionally told segment, this tale of zombies under the Big Top is amusing but predictable, right down to the final panel.
And I say panel, not scene because A Creepshow Animated Special is animated motion comic style. It’s a very limited form of animation designed to simulate reading a comic book. It’s similar to the style used for To Your Last Death, only with even less detail.
It has its fans and is fitting for something like A Creepshow Animated Special which is based in comics. I’ve just never found it very involving, it doesn’t draw me in the way full animation can. But that, of course, is a personal preference.
I also should mention the screener of A Creepshow Animated Special was unfinished and missing music, some animation and it looks like the concluding appearance of The Creep. The music may well have helped draw me in a bit more and I would hope The Creep would deliver a good chuckle. So hopefully the version that you see will be better than the one I reviewed.
And what I saw was certainly enjoyable. I probably would have liked it better with a different style of animation. And while “Circus of the Dead” would have made for an enjoyable live action gorefest, I can see why they chose this style for a show aimed at a mainstream audience.
Shudder will debut A Creepshow Animated Special on Thursday, October 29 shortly after 12:01 am ET/9:01 pm PT.