The Creepshow Animated Special is a fun Halloween watch covered in gore
Outside of manga, animated horror films or specials are few and far in between, which is why Shudder’s announcement that Creepshow series was going to give animation a shot for Halloween was so surprising. And yet, perhaps this shouldn’t have surprised us that much. The Stephen King, George Romero, and Bernie Wrightson creation did come into being as an homage to the EC horror comics that inspired them in the first place. Given the overlap between comics and animation, the visual language they share, it was quite simply the next logical step.
Thankfully, the Creepshow Animated Special delivers in this form, presenting a pair of violent and clever stories that adapt stories written by Stephen King and Joe Hill. Each story runs for about 20 minutes and wastes no time getting to the bloody bits, taking care of not leaving the plot and character development out to dry. They transition well into the show’s pastiche-driven interests.
A word on the animation, though. The special is presented in a motion comic style of animation (as previously seen in the Watchmen motion comics that came out almost in conjunction with Zack Snyder’s adaptation of the classic comic). There’s motion on-screen but not to the extent one might be expecting. It’s not the most sophisticated or intricate of styles out there, but director Greg Nicotero squeezes as much as he can out of it to great effect.
The first story comes from the mind of Stephen King and it’s called “Survivor Type,” about a man stranded on an island with the body of a dead woman after their ship sinks. The second one is called “Tweetering from the Circus of the Dead” and is adapted from a Joe Hill story. This one focuses on a teenager that gives a play-by-play Twitter account of the terrifying happenings that take place inside a sadistic circus.
Both stories are twisted enough to make for great visual adaptations. “Survivor Type” is a very bright story where every instance of terror is highly visible and in full color. It feels like an EC tale in that it’s gauche and grisly sense of violence dials up the blood and gore to its highest setting. “Tweetering from the Circus of the Dead” follows along the same lines but plays around with a darker color palette. Still, the carnage is allowed to display the full gamut of colors that comes with dismemberments and bloodletting fans of the exploitation will certainly appreciate.
All of this would’ve been in vain had the voice actors for each story failed to rise to the occasion. Fortunately, they do. The main character of “Survivor Type” is played by Keifer Sutherland and his performance perfectly captures the man’s egotistical and immoral spirit, imbuing his backstory with the necessary roughness required to make the landing.
Hill’s story is performed by Joey King (The Kissing Booth, Slenderman) and while her part isn’t as fine-tuned as Sutherland’s, she still manages to capture the sounds of a social media obsessed teen. What stands out in King’s segment is how her character’s sarcasm shifts into outright horror and shock as the story progresses. King gets to explore different aspect of her voiceover skills and it helps maintain a good sense of urgency as the character tweets about gory acts and dead things.
The animated approach for this special does achieve another thing that is worthy of note. It more closely resembles the comic book look both the original movie and series managed to capture on-screen. It fits well with the spirit of Creepshow and it is nice to see that connection make it through.
Speaking comics, Eric Powell (creator of The Goon) designed the creatures that feature in Joe Hill’s segment. This gives the story and even more present comic book feel and further cements the relationship between both mediums. Each creature is a treat to see shamble on-screen and they deserve to be explored closer to appreciate all the details Powell managed to squeeze into them.
The Creepshow Animated Special was a pleasant surprise that made me want to see more of these horror motion comic animations in the future. That might already be in the works as the final images of the special seem to hint at a Christmas offering. Consult with whatever dark forces are available to you to make sure we get more of these stories in the very, very near future.