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 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.