Shudder Streaming: A Creepshow Animated Special (2020) - Reviewed


Photo courtesy of Shudder

Just in time for Halloween, Shudder surprises us with an extra treat to add to its bag of tricks.  Greg Nicotero’s Creepshow series has picked up where the Tales From the Crypt series left off, entertaining us with spooky tales inspired by the EC horror comics of the 1950s.  Now, Greg Nicotero has decided to switch it up by creating an animated Creepshow special to delight fans of the series, and while it’s a nice change of pace, it could have been considerably better.

This 45-minute special features two animated shorts.  In the first one inspired by Survivor Type by Stephen King, we witness a man stranded on a desert island as he becomes increasingly hungry and desperate.  Voiced by Kiefer Sutherland, this man reflects upon his past to entertain himself as he makes some cringeworthy decisions over what his next meal will be.

The second short is the longer of the two — inspired by the short story Twittering from the Circus of the Dead by Joe Hill.  It stars Joey King as the voice of a jaded, Twitter-obsessed teenage girl travelling with her family cross country, constantly bickering with them.  The family decides to stop along the way for some entertainment en route, finding a mysterious circus in a remote location.  They soon come to find out that the show isn’t your run-of-the-mill circus, but rather one that features the undead as their main attraction.

Both stories are told by the main characters as our narrators, and both are performed well enough to keep our attention.  Kiefer Sutherland is especially great as the stranded man who has to get creative in order to survive.  The desperation he’s feeling is palpable and it succeeds in making his story particularly unsettling.  Joey King plays the difficult teenager perfectly, and the character development she undergoes over the course of her story is absolutely felt through her voice acting.    

The “motion comics” style of animation for this special was a bit of a disappointment.  It looks cheap, and removes the audience from the horror elements a bit.  Seeing a more fluid style of animation for these shorts would have helped the viewer connect with the protagonists and become more immersed in the story.  More disappointment came from the fact that these shorts look nothing like the classic Creepshow comic books.  Had these pieces had more of that style of art, the motion comic animation style would’ve been slightly more palatable.  The one exception to this is the great-looking zombies at the end of the second short, which were a fun watch for fans of the undead.

Also disappointing was how both of these shorts could have been tightened up and lost nothing.  Survivor Type is considerably short as it is, but still explores the main character’s back story more than is needed with not enough payoff.  Twittering From the Circus of the Dead focuses too much on the build-up, and could have explored the climax more instead.  By tightening these, it could have allowed for a third short.  There’s something classic about specials like these exploring three different stories, and it would have felt like a more complete piece had they done that.  As it stands, the work feels highly uneven.

A Creepshow Animated Special is heavy in lost potential.  It lacks the aesthetic and impact fans of the comic or show would expect from an endeavor like this.  If you watch this show, go into it with lowered expectations, and you might have a good time with it.

--Andrea Riley