Shudder: A Creepshow Holiday Special (2020) - Reviewed


There are plenty of Christmas-related horror movies out there to titillate people with dark proclivities who want to indulge in a bit of holiday cheer.  From Black Christmas to Krampus, horror fans have been spoiled with a treasure trove of spooky holiday films, but rarely do they reach the level of campy bizarreness that Greg Nicotero bestowed upon us this year.

Neatly wrapped under Shudder’s Christmas tree of streaming delights, A Creepshow Holiday Special brings some much-needed dark humor with a bit of gore on the side, perfectly encapsulating the essence of the classic EC Comics on which the show is based.  This particular tale, Shapeshifters Anonymous, is inspired by a book of the same name written by J.A. Konrath, and if it’s even half as wacky as this 45-minute special, it would be worth a read.  

Westin (Adam Pally) has been having some unusual symptoms, leading him to (rightfully) believe he might be a murderous werewolf.  In order to cope with this atypical form of holiday stress, he decides to talk it out at the support group Shapeshifters Anonymous, a motley crew of people who share his same malady (and a sole Furry who dreams of becoming a were-hippo someday, but I digress).  At this meeting, he learns some very shocking and unfortunate information:  Santa Claus is not so jolly to their kind.  Neither are all the mall Santas of the world.  In fact, they’re all part of a menacing religious order hell-bent on destroying every shapeshifter in existence — and unfortunately for this feral support group, they’ve learned about their secret location and are coming for them.    

This short film is a prime example of how to work wonders on a small budget.  Allowing some of the more potentially expensive moments play out via drawn comic panels rather than elaborate special effects, it manages to work with what it has exceedingly well.  The cinematography seems rich and the creature makeup is well-done, and despite clear moments when the crew was cutting corners for the sake of the budget, it never ends up feeling cheap.  It’s so intoxicating with the world it’s created that the audience becomes immediately forgiving of its flaws if they’re in on the joke.

While the characters are somewhat two-dimensional, it feels acceptable in this instance.  Everything is so fiendishly outlandish and downright cartoonish that genuine character development would almost feel out of place here.  Some of the dialogue exchanges feel a bit awkward at times, but it’s never a deal-breaker.  This special is very comfortable in what it is and acts very unapologetic about it.  For instance, Pitch Perfect’s Anna Camp plays a sex-crazed, blood-thirsty school teacher were-cheetah, and you know what?  It’s nothing deep, and it doesn’t have to be.  It works, and it’s a damn good time.

A Creepshow Holiday Special is for those who don’t need their holiday horror to take itself too seriously.  Absurd and gratuitous, there’s never a dull moment, and it earns its rankings as one of the best Creepshow episodes Nicotero has created to date.  If you like a little schlock in your eggnog, waste no time and watch this gem immediately.

--Andrea Riley