Creepshow S01 E06: Water Monsters Rule

Here it is, finally, my review of Creepshow S01 E06. Keep and eye out for a whole season roundup, but for now let’s focus on the task at hand. Both stories in this episode feature water monsters, though in different capacities. In addition to this similarity, there is also the theme of exploiting nature for commercial success. The first story Skincrawlers wears this theme on its sleeve. However, the second story By The Silver Waters of Lake Champlain dances with this idea as well.

The image shows the title of Skincrawlers, the first tale in Creepshow S01 E06

Without officially ranking them, I would say that this episode’s stories are two of the strongest of the season. I don’t know if I can say they were my favorite, but I enjoyed them immensely. Each story is confident in the writing, directing, cinematography, and acting. And the specials effects are wonderful as well, especially in Skincrawlers.

While there are similarities between the two stories, stark differences also exist. Skincrawlers is a creature feature first and foremost. It has very little interest in the humanity of its characters. Oh sure, characterization happens, but on briefly. The characters are archetypes, which is fine. In fact, that’s pretty much how shows like this go. After all, there’s only so much character you can give in 20 minutes or so.

Plus, the lack of depth is what makes the inevitable bloodbath so satisfying. These aren’t people we care about, but rather people we are happy to see die. Where this story differs from other episodes, including the second feature in Creepshow S01 E06, is they aren’t bad people. Even the shady investor turns out not to be all that terrible. I was still happy to see him die, and his death was fun. All of the deaths in this story were fun and had me smiling with glee.

Creepshow S01 E06 Is A Smaller Story With Human Terror

Whereas Skincrawlers went big with the gore and death, Silver Waters goes small. This is a quiet story lacking the bombast of the previous tale, but it still unnerves. Actually, it might even be more unnerving that Skincrawlers.

The premise of this story is straightforward enough. There’s a monster in a local lake. Think the Loch Ness Monster, only in the US. “Champy” is it’s name, presumably after the lake. There’s a family, big sister Rose, little brother Joey, their mom Leigh, and mom’s abusive boyfriend Chet. Chet is a real scumbag, molded out of the stuff that Stephen King uses to make his most memorable shit-heels. That makes some sense, considering this is a Joe Hill story.

Rose, like her father before her, obsesses over the existence of Champ. Leigh doesn’t like that and claims that William, the father was crazy. Well, on this particular day a fog is rolling in, much like it did on the day William claimed to have seen Champy.

As a side note, we get what sounds like Adrienne Barbeau on the radio warning the townsfolk about the incoming fog. This is fun because of her role in John Carpenter’s The Fog, acting as a nice Easter egg.

The Slow Burn Builds Tension and Hold Interest

This episode had me squirming in my seat. Not because it was overly scary, but because director Tom Savini lets the tension build. As the audience we know this story almost beat for beat. Yet, it stays interesting due to how much breathing room Savini gives it.

This could have easily strayed into cliche (and it does to a bit) or a rush job like Times is Tough in Musky Holler. But, it doesn’t. We spend time with Rose, understanding her motivations and why Champy is so important to her. Rose feels real, and so does her would-be boyfriend, Tommy. I mean, they are still thin sketches, but they definitely have more depth than many of the characters in the stories this season.

Skincrawlers also had this slow burn, making the gory release of the finale worth it. Silver Waters has a similar release, but it is softer and more understated in tone. And it’s a little tragic. Did I tear up at one of the final images? You bet your Rambo knife, I did.

Thus ends the season, and my recap of Creepshow s01 E06. Thank you for reading. I am sorry if this review is a little lackluster, I am operating on not much sleep. I could have waited to write and post this, but I’ve already waited too long. Thanks again, and as always, if you have something to say, leave it in the comments.

And, as I wrote near the beginning of this post, I will eventually rank all the stories from the first season. I hope to have your eyes on that post when I do. Until then, watch out for the Creep. If you missed any of my reviews, click here to read them.

Creepshow S01 E05 Brings the Horror Back

After a few episodes that have been more campy than scary, Creepshow S01 E05 brings the chills back with a vengeance. The first installment, Night of the Paw, dabbles in that staple of the genre: the monkey’s paw. Usually, these stories depend on how the paw’s holder will screw themselves with their wishes. While there is some of that in this tale, there is also a nice twist to the formula.

The image shows a monkey shines monkey with the words Night of the Paw, the first tale in Creepshow S01 E05

The story begins with an extended comic book sequence. Now, the series has used these sequences before, and to great effect. The werewolf transformation in episode two comes to mind. Here, however, we get the longest one yet, and it works well to introduce the story quickly. A criminal is on the run on a dark and rainy night. The car crashes, and we see the crook hobble their way to a funeral home. All of this is very economical storytelling. As is the action inside the home. Whitey, the owner, sits by the fire talking to a portrait of a woman. He says something about it being soon, and then the doorbell rings.

When he answers, he find the crook, who promptly passes out. We, along with Whitey, learn the criminal is a woman. Echoing my thoughts, and in a bit of meta-film, Whitey says, “Not at all what I expected.” This made me chuckle. I am sorry for spoiling the gag, but I hope it still makes you chuckle.

Creepshow S01 E05 The Night of the Paw Adds Fresh Twists to an Old Story

There are plenty of twists and turns in this story, starting with what Whitey does to the criminal in his lab. I won’t spoil it here, but I will say it isn’t what you are probably thinking. These twists and red-herrings add a freshness to the piece. So often in Monkey Paw stories we see the twists coming from a mile away. Admittedly, that is kind of the point. If you are a lover of schlock horror, you understand these tropes and conventions. To be clear, I have nothing against the predictability of these stories, but I do find it refreshing when they aren’t so straightforward.

I don’t want to spoil things, so I will just say that I loved how they handled this tale. The lighting is often soft with dark contrasts. Angela’s outfit evokes a wide variety of associations. The pain on Whitey’s face as he tells his story is palpable. All of these aspects play well together to create a creepy and tense tale.

I take issue with a few things: namely the rules of the paw aren’t all that well established. I had to make some logical leaps and self-explanations. That’s okay, though. I would rather be engrossed by the story and have something to figure out than have the whole thing fed to me.

I really enjoyed this story, and the newness it brought to the desiccated corpse of the monkey’s paw. A great addition to the series, a spectacular opening episode.

Time Is Tough in Musky Holler Is a Grotesque Gore Fest

The second entry in Creepshow S01 E05 is not as strong as the initial offering, but has its merits nonetheless. It also has a noticeably shorter running time, probably because it’s thin on story.

We open in a basement jail. Concrete walls, condensation dripping down them, chain link gate/fence. Clearly, things are not above board here. We see and hear Lester M. Barclay shouting about how things are right. He mentions that something is wrong with the world and that he was just doing what needed to be done. He repeats his name several times as some kind of protective mantra. From off the screen we hear crowds cheering as if they are watching some kind of sporting event. My first thought was gladiator games.

David Arquette is in this episode, but sadly feels wasted. I mean, his performance is great. The problem is, he doesn’t have a lot to do. In fact, not many of the actors or characters have much to do in this story. I wonder if that is due to budgetary constraints such as not having the money to make those scenes bigger. Or another reason. Either way, the lack of character action adds to the general thinness of this feature.

Style Over Substance in the Holler, but That’s Okay

What this tale lacks in character it makes up with style and the ability to unnerve. The whole thing is fraught with tension that just builds and builds. It’s a wise choice on the show maker’s part to keep what’s happening above a secret. Even as they reveal how the world has changed, they hold back enough information to keep your knuckles white.

Long dark hallways, rattling chains, people pissing themselves: all of these add to the general sense of dread and ruination of the segment. And I love it.

Another neat aspect of this tale is the use of live action shots within the comic frame. Again, the series has used this technique before, but never to this extent. It is an efficient and effective way to present exposition.

The story culminates in blood soaked frenzy with spectacular make up effects, and plenty of gore. It’s over a little too quickly for my tastes, but I still dug it. I am not sure how they could have extended those final moments, but I would have liked a lingering camera. While this tale isn’t as complex or daring as the Night of the Paw, it’s still fun. And it’s got the wicked getting their comeuppance, which is my bag, as I’ve said many times before.

Overall, I think Creepshow S01 E05 is the second or third strongest episode of the series so far. I think there’s only one left, and that makes me sad. What are your thoughts? Did you like it? Which tale did you prefer? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading.

Creepshow S01 E04 The Dead Are Restless

Yes, I am still behind on my reviews for this show. That’s what happens when your internet is not always fast enough to stream things. But, enough preamble, onto my Creepshow S01 E04 review.

The two terrifying tales in this installment are quite disparate in nature, though they do share some similarities. For starters, they both are creepy as hell, which is a nice change. I don’t mean to say that the previous two episodes haven’t had their moments, but overall they’ve lacked in creepiness. This episode, however, offers two stories to make your flesh crawl.

The Image Shows The Companion from Creepshow S01 e04

The first one The Companion tells the story of Harry, a teenage boy with a bully for a brother. We first meet Harry as he fishes in a shallow stream, the first indication things aren’t all right. After all, it’s quite difficult to catch fish in three or four inches of water. It doesn’t take long to confirm our suspicions that things are off due to Smitty’s arrival. Smitty is Harry’s good friend, and he stops because he sees Harry’s bike. Well, that, and he’s in the mood for some chocolate he has stashed near the river.

I like Smitty, and wish he had been in the episode more, though I understand why he wasn’t. Still, he and Harry had good rapport that would have been fun to continue through the episode. After Smitty leaves, Harry is once again left all alone. This moment of isolation, though brief, turns out to be one of the creepiest moments in the story. Why? Well, because the camera pans on the serene surroundings, which soon become ominous thanks to some quick edits and spooky sounds.

Creepshow S01 E04 The Companion Scares With Its Sounds

Speaking of spooky sounds, whoever did the Foley effects on this episode is a genius. Every sound effect is perfect for maximizing the tension and ambiance of what is happening on the screen. This aspect of the story is especially later on, but it works well here, too.

In fact, the majority of this story’s scariness came from the sound effects. Not to give too much away, but there is a living scarecrow with roots and twigs as part of it. When it moves, these materials make a crunching and scraping sound that’s enough to make your hair stand on end. It’s super effective in creating an oppressively dread filled atmosphere.

Regarding the rest of this excerpt of Creepshow S01 E04, it delivers entertainment in spades. It moves at a quick pace, never getting bogged down. And while it provides some exposition for the strange occurrences, even that feels organic and needed. At no point was I in danger of losing interest. Finally, the design work on The Companion itself was top notch, and the ending, while expected, still managed a surprise or two.

This story definitely ranks among the top of the ones featured in the series so far.

Lydia Layne’s Better Half Punishes Betrayal

Normally, when I write these reviews I look for a common theme between the two stories in each episode. Sometimes, that commonality is a stretch, but I can make it. However, in the case of Creepshow S01 E04, the thematic connection is too far. While The Companion and Lydia Layne’s Better Half both address the idea of loved ones betraying us, that’s about all they have in common. Well, maybe we could add loved ones returning to life because of the power we give them to the list. Still, the connection is razor thin at best.

None of this is to say that the story of Lydia and her better half is bad. On the contrary, it is another strong entry in the series. Whereas The Companion gave us the expanses of nature, Lydia finds us in an LA area office building.

The story is simple. Lydia, played by Tricia Helfer, is Woman of the Year. She’s the CEO or owner of a company, and is deciding who should be her new CFO. Her choices are white man Tom, and woman of color Celia (you’re breaking my heart). She chooses Tom, much to to Celia’s (my confidence is shaken) discontent. (And yes, I know the Simon and Garfunkel song is Cecilia, but at times it sounds like Celia. Shut up!)

Lydia and Celia (humiliation) fight, and it turns out they are a couple. Then Lydia inadvertently murders Celia, making this a Creepshow episode. If these two segments have any thematic resonance, it’s those we love will hurt and disappoint us.

After the (wo)manslaughter things go from bad to worse. In a stroke of storytelling genius and continuity, an earthquake that happens early has ramifications for later. A much appreciated set up and payoff.

Creepshow S01 E04 Lydia Layne’s Better Half Uses Musical Cues to Creep

Eventually, we find Lydia and Celia trapped in an elevator. This moment should feel claustrophobic, but it doesn’t. It could be because it’s an executive elevator, or just how the scenes are shot. Either way, I never felt the smallness of the elevator. Still, there was some good comedy, and some truly ‘ew’ moments in this episode. The use ‘Woman of the Year’ trophy particularly stands out.

And while the smallness of the elevator didn’t come through for me, Lydia’s descent into desperation and despair did. I am not a huge fan of Helfer (I dislike the new BSG very much) but she puts in a powerhouse performance here.

Unlike the first story in this episode, this one relies on the music to create tension rather than sounds. While this technique has its drawbacks: tipping off the viewer something will happen being the chief one, it works here. Sure, the cues can get a little over the top at times, but the story is over the top, so it works. It not only creates emotional responses in the viewer, but it helps establish the unreality of the events in the story. Both portions of this episode use sound (whether music or effect, and sometimes both) to enhance the thrills and chills. For that, I applaud them.

I liked Creepshow S01 E04 a lot. In fact, I probably consider it the second strongest episode of the season after episode 1.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading. You can read the rest of my Creepshow reviews here.

Creepshow S01 E03 Serves Up Some Just Deserts

After a brief hiatus, I am back to talk about Creepshow S01 E03. Why the hiatus? Well, last week at work was super busy. And, my internet was having some issues, thanks to my living in China. Fortunately, work has slowed down, it’s the weekend, and the ‘net issues are no more. So, all is well once again in the world of Ian.

The image shows trick or treates with a caption that says All Hallow's Eve, the first of the two stories mentioned in this Creepshow S01 E03 review

This week’s, or rather last week’s, installment of Shudder’s anthology brings two tales of deserved comeuppance. Now, this isn’t anything new to horror anthologies, see nearly every episode of Tales From the Crypt. In fact, it’s not even really new ground for this show. See episode 2. Still, these types of stories are fun. After all, most of us enjoy seeing terrible people get what they deserve.

The first tale in Creepshow S01 E03 is ‘All Hallow’s Eve.’ From the beginnig of the story, there is a sense of somber unease permeating the whole affair. It’s an effective and affective touch, considering what happens. We meet Pete and Jill in their costumes. They are Gold Dragons, a club of sorts, and they’re waiting for their fellow group members. Immediately something feels off about them. Pete, dressed as a hobo, mentions something about the rules, and Jill says something about this being the last time they will be together. If that’s not some ominous shit, you and I have different definitions of ominous.

Creepshow S01 E03 All Hallow’s Eve is Suburban Gothic

Once the gang assembles, they are off terrorize the neighborhood. I must admit, the fear these kids inspired in the people of the neighborhood intrigued me. I wanted to know what the story was, though I did guess it pretty early on. To be fair, it wasn’t that hard to spot. Still, it would have been nice if the mystery had gone on a bit longer. Still, it’s a pretty neat episode. And while it’s not scary, it is spooky with a surprising amount of heart and emotion.

Gothic literature often deals with mysteries, dark secrets, betrayal, crazy women in attics and the men who put them there. All Hallow’s Eve doesn’t have attic ridden loonies, but it does have mystery, murder, and dark secrets. This story is Suburban Gothic.

Visually, the episode is fairly standard, though the break-in to Mrs. Hathaway’s house is a stand out. Odd angles disorient the viewer, and add something different to the episode.

Overall, it is hard to argue that this is the strongest entry in the series. However, it is a solid entry, and it is a bit different from what has come before. My only two gripes about this tale are that the mystery isn’t as mysterious as I would have liked, and we see what happened to the Golden Dragons. It wasn’t superfluous, but it also didn’t feel necessary. My dislike of its inclusion probably speaks to my feelings about the mystery.

I did really like the kids’ acting. Jasun Jabbar Wardlaw Jr. as Binky was especially good. He was funny, as well as a ball of perfectly contained rage. The standout of this segment for sure.

The Man in The Suitcase Is Uncomfortable

The second tale found in Creepshow S01 E03 is the Man in the Suitcase. This story opens with Justin, a down on his luck college kid. His dad is mad at him for under performing at school, and his girlfriend Carla just dumped him. To make matters worse, he’s stuck waiting on his luggage at the airport. Things are looking bad for poor old Justin, and they don’t look like they will improve any time soon.

However, he does catch a lucky break because just when it looks as if it won’t get his bag, it falls down the carousel. He grabs it without a second thought and heads home, getting stoned on the way. Now, as viewers we know something is off about the suitcase. In fact, if we paid attention to the title, we know there is a man in it. We may know that someone is in the suitcase, but we don’t know when he will reveal himself, and we don’t know what he will be like. To the show’s credit, it plays with that expectation, quite a bit, keeping him in the suitcase for a lot longer than I thought they would.

When Justin does finally find him, we see a man so contorted he looks as if every bone in his body has been broken and rearranged in order to make him fit in the luggage. He begs Justin to help him, but when Justin tries to move one of the man’s feet, the man screams in pain and spits out a gold coin. See, when he feels pain, he produces gold coins. Yeah, this is weird, but Justin is in desperate need of money. Plus, the man tells him to stop trying to extricate him from the suitcase and to try later.

Would You Hurt Someone For Money?

From this point on, it’s not too tough to see where this is going to go. If the man produces money when he’s in pain, then hurt him and make money. This is a pretty brilliant setup, as well as an original one. Plus, it brings the idea of morality into the story. Is Justin willing to hurt this man in order to solve his own financial problems. The short answer is yes, but there is more to it than that.

Suffice to say, that the man in the suitcase has a secret. It takes a while for him to reveal that secret. And a lot of torture at the hands of Justin, his ex-girlfriend Carla, and his roommate Alex. But when he reveals his secret, it is sweet, inevitable, and in hindsight, obvious.. And, it’s made evens sweeter by the fact that the wicked are once again punished.

Creepshow S01 E03 Has Two Strong Tales of Justice

Of the two stories in this episode, I preferred The Man in the Suitcase. It feels more confident in its telling, and it is a bit more visually interesting. Plus, it saves the resolution of the mystery for the end. Unlike All Hallow’s Eve, it is not very easy to guess what is happening with the man in the suitcase. Sure, we can maybe guess nothing good will come of the situation, but as for how, that’s a bit more difficult. I liked the thematic link of morality and justice because it such a staple of schlock type horror, and it is done well in this episode.

I am happy to say that I’m still enjoying this series, and it is well worth the subscription to Shudder. I’m looking forward to watching and reviewing episode four.

Have you seen this episode? What did you think? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading.

Creepshow S01 E02 Tales of Horror and Vengeance

Creepshow S01 E02 tells two very disparate tales. There is a little bit of thematic resonance between them, but not much. The first story Bad Wolf Down concerns a combat unit in WW2. The episode opens with American GIs fighting a bunch of Nazi soldiers. The GIs are in trouble and have to retreat. Soon, they find themselves in an abandoned jail where some obvious shit has gone down. Though, I do have to say, it takes them a while to notice that some shit went down.

The image shows a comic book cover as featured in Creepshow S01 E02

Seriously. I understand they are in a stressful situation, and maybe not thinking straight. But, they don’t check the room or look for danger. They just kind of hang out and slowly realize something is amiss. This isn’t a deal breaker, but it did strain my credulity. I know, I know, complaining about credulousness in a s show lie this is silly, and I agree. Still, the key to maintaining suspension of disbelief in any type of creative endeavor is not to break the illusion. Unfortunately, Bad Wolf Down did that a few times for me.

That is not to say, however, that I didn’t enjoy this story. I did. The characters are definitely archetypes and don’t bring anything new to the genre. There’s the asshole sergeant, the tough but fair captain, and the young kid who believes in God. But, that’s okay. The actors perform their roles well enough, and Jeffrey Combs is always a welcome sight, especially when he’s chewing scenery.

As one of the thematic elements that ties the two stories together is vengeance, I need to talk about that. First, we get vengeance in the form of Combs’ Nazi commander. The GIs killed his son, and they must die for their transgression.

Creepshow S01 E02 Bad Wolf Down Hamstrung By Budget

The second form of vengeance in Bad Wolf Down is the captain getting revenge on the sergeant who left him and the rest of the unit to die in jail. I don’t want to spoil too much, but you can probably guess from the title that there are werewolves. Yes, this is a werewolf story, and that’s cool. There aren’t enough of those thanks to vampires and zombies getting all the action.

The budgetary constraints seep through in this story. Werewolves require transformations, which I imagine are costly to film. This episode solves the problem in a clever way: flipping through the pages of a comic book to show the change. We still get to see the Wolfmen wreak havoc, which is nice.

The ensuing slaughter after the change is also good fun. Though, I must say, it felt a little lackluster. I don’t know if it was lack of tension in the fight, or just that everything looked a little fake. Whatever it was, I wasn’t as excited as I wanted to be. Still, it was great fun.

Creepshow S01 E02 The Finger

Of the two stories told in Creepshow S01 E02, I prefer The Finger. It’s got a macabre sense of humor, and a strong sense of the story it wants to tell. Bad Wolf Down knew the story it wanted to tell as well, but it didn’t quite feel as assured as The Finger does.

The Finger is the story of Clark Wilson, ‘the only man who walks in LA.’ Clark is a loner whose family abandoned him, and good riddance. His ex-wife Samantha only thought he was good for reaching high shelves. His stepson stole his car, and his stepdaughter was a meth head who offered him sexual favors for him to keep her secrets. Thankfully, he did not take her up on such offers.

If one of the themes of Bad Wolf Down was that of relying on others in times of trouble, The Finger goes in the opposite direction. Clark has no one, and furthermore, doesn’t seem to want anyone in his life.

So, Clark is a lonely web developer who collects discarded things. Yes, he collects trash on his walks and brings it home. One night, he finds a weird and gross looking finger. Now, a normal or sane person would leave the finger alone. But Clark is not normal, and he may have a few screws loose. So, he takes the finger home and starts researching what kind of animal it belongs to. He can’t find anything, but he does accidentally spill beer on it. The finger soaks up the liquid immediately.

We All Need Friends

This is some freaky shit, and if it were me, or any other right thinking individual, I’d get rid of that finger. Instead, Clark puts it in a butter dish and then places it in the fridge. The finger soon grows into an arm, and then into a fully formed murderous monster. Of course. Anyone surprised by this probably shouldn’t be watching horror. In a twist, though, the creature befriends Clark, and they hang out. Clark has found his comrade, and Bob, the cutest monster you’ll ever see, has found his.

This story is funny in all the right macabre ways. Clark is likably unlikable, and breaks the fourth wall quite a bit. He’s cynical and jaded, but doesn’t grind the audience down with these aspects of his character. There is not a lot of momentum to this story, but the humor and Bob kept my interest even when the action wasn’t moving at a quick pace. I enjoyed the storytelling as well as the inevitable conclusion to this story.

Final Thoughts

Overall Creepshow S01 E02 is a strong addition to the series, though it is weaker than the first episode. It doesn’t have as many scares, and the creepy factor is lower as well. Still, it feels like the source material, and offers up some good entertainment. Well worth watching, I’d say.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading.

Creepshow S01 E01 Two Tales of Horror

Creepshow S01 e01 premiered on Shudder recently, but I hadn’t had a chance to watch it. Well, that has finally been rectified, and I am happy to say it was worth the wait. This episode, like all the upcoming ones, apparently, has two stories in it. I like this format because it gives us more bang for our buck, and helps ensure there is all meat, no filler.

The picture shows the logo from Creepshow S01 e01

The first story, Gray Matter, is a telling of the Stephen King story of the same name. It’s about a teenage boy, Timmy, and his Daddy. I read the story yeas ago in middle school, so I don’t remember all the details. I do remember that it was creepy (duh! it’s King), and the show definitely lived up to that promise. The plot is simple. Timmy’s Momma dies, leaving him and his father alone together. Daddy, who always enjoyed his Friday night Harrow’s Supreme beer starts drinking excessively. Then, he loses his job and starts watching afternoon soaps. Grief does strange things to us all.

When we first meet Timmy, it is in a general store on the night of a big storm. He has come for a case of Harrow’s. The Sheriff and the town doctor are in the shop, shooting the shit like always. These little moments between characters establish their relationship and let the reader know this is something they do. As far as quick and effective world building and place setting, there are few better ways to do so.

As the story continues, we learn that something nasty has happened to Daddy, after all this is a horror story. I won’t reveal too much about the details, suffice to say there are some gruesome effects and a good sense of dread throughout the short.

Creepshow S01 E01 House of the Head

This is the second story of the episode, and while the colors are a little brighter, the story is just as dark, if not darker. House of the Head tells the story of a little girl and her dollhouse, so already it’s freaky. I mean, come on, dollhouses can be quite scary. Not always, sure, but more often than not. Or is that just me?

Anyway, Evie, the girl, has a new ‘one of a kind’ dollhouse–which adds to the unease. Anytime something is ‘one of a kind’ in a horror story it’s never good. It’s never, oh, that car is one of a kind; it will get you where you need to be and never break down. No, it’s more, that car is one of a kind and it will kill all your friends and drive you to madness.

The dollhouse is nice, though, and Evie has inhabited it with a nice family called the Smithsmiths. They have a dog, a son named Ethan, and all is well when Evie leaves for school one morning. However, things change quickly. Upon her return home she sees that a new inhabitant has move into the house: a disembodied head.

The picture shows the head of the house of the head from Creepshow S01 e01
Hell No! I see that, I’m burning the damn house down!

If I found this head in my dollhouse, I would freak. Not Evie, though. She’s just all, you don’t belong here, whatever. As things progress she gets more and more creeped out by the head, but she never loses her wits. She just buys more dolls that she thinks can solve the problem for her. I won’t say how things end, but I will say Evie is full of hope when she leaves the dollshop with her new Native American doll.

Thematic Similarities Between Episodes

Overall, Creepshow S01 e01 is a strong start to the series. The two tales they chose resonate thematically with each other because they both present children dealing with horrific events. Also, they act as a nice contrast to one another. Gray Matter is shot in odd angles and has a very dark aesthetic. The lighting is dim or nonexistent, which really amplifies the feelings of terror.

House of the Head on the other hand, is brightly lit, and shot in wide open frames. Even though most of the action takes place in Evie’s bedroom, the episode never really felt claustrophobic to me. Despite the well lit shots and feeling of space, there was still a strong feeling of unease in this story as well.

I wouldn’t say that either tale is particularly scary. There aren’t jump scares or things like that. But, I will say a feeling of fear and despair permeates them, which is a different kind of horror. It may not scare you in the moment, but it has greater potential to keep you awake at night, turning your head at noises in the dark.

Final Thoughts

One thing I didn’t like was the repetition of ‘Daddy’ in Gray Matter. They used it so much that it became annoying, and I wanted them to find a synonym.

Something else that was cool was all the Stephen King references in Gray Matter. There is a missing pet board with Church and Cujo. There is mention of something scary in the sewers. And I am sure there were more that I missed. And while I loved the references, I did find them a little distracting because I wanted to pay attention to them as well as the story. Still, I did appreciate them.

Oh, and the nod to John Carpenter’s The Thing at the end of Gray Matter was great, too.

Have you seen Creepshow S01 E01? Did you like it? Leave your thoughts in the comments please. I will be reviewing the episodes as close to their premiere as possible. A new episode drops every Thursday (Friday for me). I will try to have my review up by Saturday my time. It might be difficult, though, because my internet in China is not always 100% reliable.

Thanks for reading.

The Boys E04 Supes Are People, Too

The Boys E04 presents viewers with the largest peek into the world yet. We have already seen Supes acting terribly, consequences be damned. While plenty of that still happens in the episode, characterization expands to show that Supes are people, live complicated lives, have emotions, fears, and regrets. As the best example in the episode, Deep extols to his therapist the virtues of dolphins, while lamenting how the rest of the Seven treat him. He calls himself the ‘diversity hire.’ This scene plays out in earnest fashion. We can almost feel Deep’s shame and rage and sadness for being a creature of the land and the sea. It is tempting to feel sorry for Deep in this scene.

But you know what? Fuck that guy. The Deep doesn’t deserve pity, not after what he did to Starlight, and she’s probably not the only person he’s sexually assaulted. The Deep is not a good guy. He is not a stand up fellow. And he certainly doesn’t deserve redemption or sympathy. I’m just sad that the dolphin he tries to save suffers from his incompetence.

Another example of The Boys e04 focus on the humanity of its characters is Translucent. Turns out, he had a kid, information that throws Hughie for a loop, which is understandable. After all, Hughie did press the button that detonated the bomb that killed the Supe. Granted, giving the Supe a son just to stir emotions is a cheap technique. Yet, it works in this instance because it so cliche, and that is what I realized about The Boys after watching e04. This show is taking the piss, as they say, out of superhero storytelling. Going into the show, I knew that, or at least should have.

The Boys E04 People Are Flawed and Dangerous

However, if you’ve read my review of the first episode, you will see that I felt the show lacked something. I couldn’t put my finger on it then, but maybe I can now. The missing element for me through the first two episodes especially was the overall point. Those episodes moved so quickly that they did not have time to build the larger world.

In contrast, The Boys e04 takes some time to breathe, which is funny to say. This is not a slow episode by any definition. Even still, it manages to develop the characters, the world, and stakes.

These stakes range from deciding to free a woman locked in a cage, to letting a passenger plane crash and then using the tragedy for gain. In the case of the latter, Homelander makes that decision.

He and Maeve are sent by Madelyn Stillwell to stop a group of terrorists who have hijacked the plane. They arrive, making short work of the bad guys. Homelander then smiles for the passengers and gives them a round of applause for being so brave. Here, he’s the quintessential superhero. He’s Superman: caring and friendly and optimistic. Which is, of course, bullshit.

There is another terrorist in the cockpit and before either Supe can stop him, he shoot the pilot, and Homelander tries to fry him with his laser eyes, but hits the console instead. Claiming no other choice, he tells Maeve that they have to leave and let the passengers die. She reluctantly agrees. As they try to leave the ship, Homelander reveals his true colors.

The image shows Homelander from The Boys e04. His eyes glow red and the caption reads, 'You stay the fuck back, or I'll laser you, goddamn it!'

In The World of Supes and Norms There are No Hereos

So they let the plane crash and take the passengers with it. Homelander may be a remorseless prick, but Maeuve isn’t. The tragedy clearly affects her, and she sheds tears for the dead. Homelander, on the other hand, seizes the opportunity to take advantage of the crash. He blames the government for not allowing Supes to be part of national defense, and uses the crash as a rallying call to get people excited about the idea of Supes in the military. Like the sociopath he is, Homelander politicizes the deaths of people he chose not to save. He is a prick.

The Supes are not the only one who get to spend some time developing their characters. The Boys get their share as well in e04. We learn Butcher had a wife or girlfriend. And we know she’s not in the picture any more. We don’t know what happened to her, but we can probably guess it was a Supe. My guess is Homelander because Butcher has talked about getting the evil Superman.

We also see Hughie on a date with Annie January aka Starlright. They’re bowling and having a good time, but Hughie also has a mission. Butcher wants him to bug Annie’s phone. During the date we learn that Starlight is a good person through and through. Or at least, that’s how Hughie sees her. I’m not sure if I trust her, though. Typically in stories like this if someone is too good to be true, they usually are. I would be happy if Annie turned out to be exactly what she says. That would be a refreshing twist in this show. A bit of light in the darkness if you’ll excuse the pun.

Hughie Makes A Choice

I didn’t really wonder if Hughie would follow through with the mission. I figured he would. But, I will say, I dislike him for it. As I wrote above, I don’t completely trust Starlight, but I don’t want her trust betrayed. She seems like a good and moral character, so of course she gets taken advantage of. To paraphrase Darth Vader, she’s far too trusting.

I understand why Hughie bugs her phone for both plot and character considerations. If he doesn’t bug the phone, then the narrative runs the risk of stalling because a new plan needs making. From the standpoint of the character, he is still reeling from Robin’s death, and he world he has entered. Bugging Starlight makes sense, and gives him something to focus on. It’s too bad, though. He could have trusted her, and made a new fried. Erin Moriarty and Jack Quaid have good chemistry together and are fun to watch on screen. (Although, it must be said that Moriarty has natural chemistry with everyone she shares a with.) It’s going to be sad when his deception is what causes her to lose her faith in people starts dating Homelander.

Hughie made his decision to betray the trust he and Annie have started cultivating.

The Boys e04 Frenchie Endangers the Mission

Like Hughie, Frenchie is processing some shit. Unlike with Hughie, though, we are not privy to the force driving Frenchie. He finds a woman in a cage guarded by men with guns. Instead of leaving her in the cage, he does what most decent people would, and frees her. This turns out to be a mistake. She’s a Supe and a killer, and now she’s on the loose. The Boys track her in the C-story of e04, and Frenchie lets her go each time, claiming she is a good person.

And really, that last point is what the mission statement of the series seems to be right now. There are no good people, only bad people. This is a nihilistic view to be sure, but one that fits well with the world of the show. Supes are commercialized, and crime fighting is staged and approved by corporate interests. They do it for a paycheck, not for Peace, Justice, and the American way.

Now that the show has come to a place where I realize this very simple and easy fact, I am enjoying the series much more. This has been the best episode of the series so far. It manages to do a lot of good character work while moving along at a breakneck pace.

Have you seen The Boys e04? What did you think of it? Is there something I missed in my review? Got questions or something to say? Leave me a comment, and click the follow button to subscribe. Thanks for reading.

The Boys E03 Super Heroes are Commodities

The Boys e03 pushes Hughie’s quest for vengeance against A-Train forward, while doing some admirable world building. If the first episode was about Supes not acting heroically, and episode two was about how terrifying a world with Supes would be, The Boys e03 examines how they fit into the public eye.

One of the most powerful scenes in this episode is when Hughie returns home to get some fresh clothes. Posters of The Seven, and other heroes line his walls. While Hughie may not seem to notice the posters as he packs, I did. Seeing the superhero propaganda on his walls gave me an “Oh shit” moment. Because how awful would that be if you had posters and toys of the person that killed your girlfriend. The social implications are vast, and it is a wonder more people in the world don’t hate Supes.

When he does soak in the fact that he had an A-Train funko pop he tears the posters from the walls, and breaks whatever else he can. Hughie is in shock from the events of last episode. Destroying the merchandise offers Hughie a chance for catharsis. For me, this is the series at its best, and is definitely more what I expected from the start.

Starlight Makes a Choice in The Boys E03

The parallels between Starlight and Hughie also continue to develop, albeit in disparate fashion. Previously, Starlight got in trouble for performing a heroic act without permission from her corporate overlords at Vought who call her in for a meeting, possibly to fire her. However, they decide not to fire her. Instead, they bring in the marketing department to develop and sell an origin story. They also provide her with a new costume that she resists. The new costume is skimpy, with a plunging cleavage line. In short, it’s a woman’s superhero costume.

The image shows Starlight's new costume, which she wears in The Boys e03 despite it conflicting with her morals

Starlight tells Madeline Stillwell that she has a right to present her body however she wants. Madeline agrees, but says the only way Starlight gets to do that with The Seven is to wear the new costume.

The pain of the choice is clear on Emily Moriarty’s face as it runs a spectrum of nuanced facial expressions. The actress has really shined in the roll, portraying perfectly slide from idealism to cynicism. She looks sideways at the uniform, head tilted back, shoulders up. Her body language expresses resistance to the idea. However, as she considers the offer more thoroughly, her shoulders relax in resignation, and her head slumps. She exchanges exploitation for membership, and takes another step further from her moral center. Her quote to Hughie at the big race says it all, “I don’t know if they really want you to be a hero. I think they just want you to look like one.”

The Boys E03 Revenge is the Name of the Game

For his apart, Hughie is drunk on the power he felt when he pressed the button on the bomb. He tells Mr. Milk–a new addition to the team–about it, and MM nods. Then, he warns Hughie about taking it too far. But for Hughie. there is no such thing as taking it too far. A-Train killed his woman and disrupted his life. Nothing short of total vengeance will suffice.

To this effect, Frenchie, Butcher, Hughie, and Mr. Milk pay a visit to Popclaw. Popclaw is A-Train’s girlfriend. MM and Hughie bug her apartment, and as they leave they bump into A-Train. Hughie stares at the Supes who killed his girlfriend, waiting for acknowledgement. There is a moment of silence which A-Train asks if Hughie wants an autograph. Instead of keeping quiet and just moving on, Hughie says he thinks they’ve met before. A stupid thing to do.

I understand that Hughie is pissed A-Train can’t even pay him the courtesy of remembering him. Plus, he is still riding the adrenaline wave. But, this was stupid and could have gotten both Hughie and MM killed. Revenge is their purpose, but they need to be smart about it. Hughie forgot that for a moment.

Homelander and Queen Maeve

This episode also brings us our first glimpse of Queen Maeve in action, and she kicks ass. Then she has a team-up with Homelander, and things go less well. The series has been hinting that Homelander is a violent psychopath with amazing powers. The Boys E03 makes that clear. Homelander is the kind of guy who will punch through a man’s chest, and then get mad at the dead guy for getting blood on his gloves. Homelander is the kind of guy who will threaten an ex-girlfriend with death if she ever moves on. Murderous Superman is not necessarily a new concept, especially not in comics, but it is something we haven’t seen a lot of in movies and TV.

Power Corrupts and So Does Compound V

By establishing Homelander as the biggest prick of them all because he’s the most powerful, the show subverts Superman. And in so doing, it provides a fresh take on the superhero genre in the medium of the screen. If the biggest hero can be a villain, then there are no heroes. Everyone is already a villain, or one in waiting. Even Starlight has slipped. She wants to be part of The Seven so badly that she’s willing to compromise her values. No one is safe from the corrupting influence of Supes.

How far Starlight will go to maintain her position in The Seven is a question worth asking. On one hand, similar to Hughie, it seems that she will do anything to be a member. On the other hand, when she gets leered at and told to show her tits, there is a flash of indecision. I expect the show will delve deeper into this aspect of the plot and her character, but I don’t expect her to abandon The Seven.

Finally, and returning to the idea of superhero marketing and image, A-Train has a big race. If he loses, he is out of The Seven. Here is yet another instance of people doing whatever it takes to be part of the biggest superhero club around. Only in the case of A-Train that action is to take superhero steroids, also known as Compound V. The drug greatly enhances super abilities, but the user loses some control. A-Train was on V when he ran through Robin.

This episode is the best one so far. Have you seen it? What are your thoghts? Let me know in the comments.

The Boys E02 Superheroes are Terrifying

Now this is more like it. The Boys E02 provides what I felt the first episode lacked, enough satire to fully subvert genre expectations. By focusing on aspects other than over the top violence, this episode manages to highlight the social problems caused by Supes. Granted, the first episode did this to a degree. After all, Robin’s death is the driving force behind Hughie’s quest for vengeance against A-Train.

Additionally, this episode builds on the social impact Supes. First, we see A-Train visiting a child with terminal cancer. A-Train arrives, all smiles and arrogance. Then, the kids says he wanted Translucent because Translucent is his hero. A-Train tells the kid he’ll teach him how to run when he gets better. The child does not take these words well. The whole scene is awkward and hilarious in a terrible way.

The picture shows Homelander from the Boys S02

The Boys E02 focuses mostly on Homelander as well as the fallout from episode one. Again, I am going to be as spoiler-free as possible in this review. Still, there might be some spoilery things in here. If you care, there’s your warning.

The choice to develop Homelander is a wise one. As the Superman analogue, he sets up a myriad of expectations for the audience. Such expectations should already be shifting after his actions in E01, but we still don’t know much about him. Here, we learn that he wants to be more than just a pretty face, and also that there is some darkness in him, and is the darkness that makes him scary. From when we learn of Homelander’s darkness until the end of the episode, his presence looms large. He shifts from the typical Superman archetype, to something reminiscent of JMS’s version of Hyperion in Supreme Power.

The Boys E02 There Are No Heroes Only Supes

Meanwhile, Hughie and Butcher are still trying to resolve their situation. The trouble is, they don’t have any good options. This story line pushes Hughie closer to the edge as the time to make a choice draws near. We learn that the Butcher is a mercenary who specializes in subduing Supes. Admittedly, I found the beats in this plot line a little too predictable. I understand the need for these scenes, and they do a lot of good work portraying Hugie’s struggle. Yet, the outcome never really seemed in doubt.

We also learn more about how fighting crime for the Vought corporation works. And, I would say, it works about the way you’d expect. Vought uses the most advanced technology to predict where crimes will occur, and then they send their heroes there. It’s all very efficient, but doesn’t lend itself to feeling heroic.

I appreciate this look at how the sponsorship works. On one hand, it s not surprising. If superheroes did exist and they had corporate sponsors, thing would most likely operate in this fashion.

Character Studies

The subversion of the Superman type in the form of Homelander, along with the corporate control aspect play into the theme of The Boys E02: the loss of innocence. In fact, that seems to be the overall series theme. We see this in the general portrayal of Supes in this episode, as well as the characters of Hughie and Starlight.

Each character’s story contains darkness and difficult choices. They both death with pain and loss of innocence, though in very different ways. Hughie has access to a support group. It’s dysfunctional and horrible and is going to get him in trouble, if not killed. He is grieving for Robin, and trying reconcile his need for vengeance with his need to maintain his innocence.

In contrast, Starlight processes her loss of innocence by asserting herself, and unleashing her anger against a couple of deserving assholes. She is alone and has no support structure. She can’t tell her mom for fear of disappointing her, and she has no friends. Starlight regaining some confidence is important for the character and the story. Plus, it gives us a chance to see a Supe actually doing something super heroic. Of course, she faces punishment for performing an unsanctioned Super activity, further driving home the point that there is no place for heroics in the superhero business. Plus Erin Moriarty kills it as the determined and near-desperate Starlight, infusing her performance with a contrast of nuanced emotion and bright-eyed optimism.

All in all, this episode was stronger than the first one, and I have hope that I will enjoy the show if they continue in this vein.

Have you seen The Boys E02? What did you think. Drop a line in the comments if you feel inclined.

The Boys E01 Superheroes Suck

The Boys e01 (The Name of the Game) introduces us to a world full of superheroes patrolling the streets and fighting crime. Only, these heroes are dicks, rapists, and criminals. Think of The Watchmen mixed with Squadron Supreme, and you may have some idea of what to expect. The series is based on the comic series co-created by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. I haven’t read the comic, and I don’t know if I will. This review refrains from spoilers by not describing events, but rather providing overall general impressions.

The Picture Shows the Seven, a team of superheroes in The Boys E01

Watching this series opening episode, I kept wondering what the joke was. The set up is straightforward enough: The Boys e01 exists in a world where people with super powers are part of daily life. From this premise, the show extrapolates that people with powers would be greedy dickheads. On one hand, this is always a fun idea. On the other hand, it’s only fun if there’s a punchline beyond Ha superheroes suck!

As the first episode, The Boys e01 delivers on establishing the world, characters, and tone. That world, however, is brutish and horrible. It is a world where costumed Supers, sponsored by the Vought corporation, can murder and rape and steal at will.

There is fridging and superhero on superhero rape, and it is all played seriously, which is good as these are serious topics. But, the episode doesn’t really explore these topics, rather treating them like the tropes they are. So, instead of providing viewers with something fresh, the episode leans heavily into traditional superhero conventions. I suppose I was looking for a bit of a bigger twist.

Did you watch The Boys e01? Are you planning to? If not, why are you even reading this? If you have, comment and let me know what you think.