Originally appearing on the streaming service Shudder as well as AMC Network, Creepshow: Season 1 (RLJ Entertainment, Rated TV-MA, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, 270 minutes, $34.98) is now available on the Blu-ray format in a three-disc set.
Paying homage to 1950s comic book series such as “Tales from the Crypt” as well as piggybacking off of the two 1980s “Creepshow” movies, the new anthology horror show pulled in some of the best gore and scare creators around to terrorize audiences.
The six episodes in the set, comprising the inaugural season, offers viewers 12 stories (roughly 20 minutes long each) introduced by a ghoulish-robed mascot nicknamed the Creep. Each attempt to deliver a dose of frights with a thought-provoking and often macabre or humorous twist.
The tales are a mixed bag often adapting material from trusted sources such as previously released sequential art stories or from horror authors such as David S. Chow (“The Crow” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”).
A promising first episode, based on a Stephen King short story titled “Gray Matter,” no less features the talents of legends such as producer, director and effects wizard Greg Nicotero (“The Walking Dead”) and actors Adrienne Barbeau (the first “Creepshow” movie), Tobin Bell (the “Saw” killer) and Giancarlo Esposito (a drug lord in “Breaking Bad”).
We learn about an alcoholic father drowning in monstrous grief as a town braces for a hurricane, but the story falls flat without any punchline even though viewers will enjoy an impressive creature showcased.
Much better is the second episode’s vignette “Bad Wolf Down” directed by Rob Scrab and set in World War II with Nazis, werewolves, U.S. soldiers and an appearance by legend Jeffrey Combs (“Re-animator”).
Or even better, and what I would characterize as more of perfect “Creepshow” stories in the collection are the greed morality lesson “The Man in the Suitcase” and a traditional dose of revenge from wronged kids on Halloween in “All Hollow’s Eve.”
Each story’s visual presentation includes the screen segmenting into a comic book like page filled in with live action that even flips as well as panels offering illustrations of the action complete with dialogue bubbles.
The price to appreciate the latest “Creepshow” is steep considering the lack of episodes, but by the time viewers watch the potent finale of “Skincrawlers” and “By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain,” they will be gruesomely satisfied.
Best extras: The set shines with a stacked collection of bonus content sure to please fans.
First, every episode gets an information-loaded optional commentary track with either Mr. Nicotero or Red Shirt Pictures’ Michael Felsher discussing the production with either a director or writer.
The fifth episode offers the best of the bunch with a pair of tracks for each vignette (“Night of the Paw” and “Times is Tough in Musky Holler”) devoted to director John Harrison and then writers John Esposito and John Skipp.
The third disc in the set offers all of the extras led by an hour promotional overview of the series. It’s broken up into seven featurettes featuring Mr. Nicotero and most of the key cast members, directors, writers and even cinematographer Rob Draper discussing the series’ creation, shooting minutiae, assortment of creatures and reverence to the original movies.
Also each episode gets highlighted with footage on the set, and numerous solo actor interviews (roughly six minutes each) with the likes of Mr. Bell, Mr. Combs and Tricia Helfer.
Finally, the package contains a 28-page, full-color, mini-comic book that introduces each episode and some purchasers even get a glow-in-the-dark cover.