Shudder’s ‘Creepshow’ features strong horror background

Rick's Reviews

Keith David stars in one of the episodes in the second season of the Shudder anthology series “Creepshow.” (Photo courtesy of AMC)

(KGET) — Greg Nicotero has all the background he needs to be the executive producer of the “Creepshow” horror series on the streaming service Shudder. He has served as an executive producer on both “The Walking Dead” and “Fear the Walking Dead.” Add to that, he’s worked in the makeup departments on the likes of “Army of Darkness,” “From Dusk Till Dawn” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning.”

The best connection goes all the way back to the start of his professional career of trying to scare the daylights out of people. He worked with George A. Romero – the director of the 1982 feature film “Creepshow” – on “Dawn of the Dead.” And, Nicotero was in charge of the special makeup effects for the 1985 sequel, “Creepshow 2.”

“I’ve always been a big fan of the genre.  I’ve always loved being scared and scaring people,” Nicotero says. “So it’s a big thing for me to be able to be the showrunner on a show where I can craft, design, create, develop, direct a myriad of amazing stories that have some great, great effects in them.

“So it’s really kind of a dream come true for me. I got my start in the business with George Romero on Day of the Dead so I feel his spirit all around me all the time. So it’s pretty great.”

Nicotero and his team rode that feeling to creation of the series. The anthology was an immediate success as it smashed records for Shudder in number of viewers, new subscriber sign-ups and total minutes streamed to become the most-watched program in Shudder history. The series then moved to AMC. The show has been so strong that a third season of six episodes was ordered long before the debut of season 2 on April 1.

The second season will feature stories starring Kevin Dillon, Iman Benson, Josh McDermitt, Keith David, Molly Ringwald, Barbara Crampton, Justin Long, and D’Arcy Carden and others.

Crampton’s casting brings someone to the series with as much horror history as Nicotero. Although Crampton has worked in a lot of different genres, she is closely associated with horror through her work in “Re-animator,” “Chopping Mall,” “Puppet Master” and “From Beyond.”

She laughs at the mention of being such a queen of screams.

“It’s a complete surprise to me every day.  You know, I didn’t grow up thinking that I was going to become a horror actress.  I just wanted to be an actress,” Crampton says. “And what I found through the genre and working in genre is, you know, it is about fear and humor and being able to release that and being able to take people on a fun ride.

“But also, at its core, horror is about deep empathy for people in situations that we find ourselves in, and I feel like some of the best stories that I’m proud to be a part of are horror stories.  So, luckily, I found a home in horror. And I’m so grateful to be here.”

Crampton echoes Nicotero’s approach to horror that he learned by watching filmmakers like John Carpenter, Romero and Steven Spielberg. He learned from them how to prey on fears by going from moments of intense terror to times with an intense laugh right after it. 

Working on the first season for Nicotero was dipping his toes into the horror anthology format. He promises this second season of ‘Creepshow” will be better than the first.

He jumped into the deep end for the second season creating stories that cover a broad range of science fiction, fantasy and horror. Nicotero credits his writers for creating better stories for the new season and his production team with making each episode feel like a feature film.

“I feel like we really, really hit our stride at the beginning of Season 2, and I shed any sort of nervousness about it, because Season 1, I was terrified,” Nicotero says. “I mean, I felt like I had a lot to live up to between Stephen King and George Romero, and when fans embraced the show I was able to take a deep breath and go, okay, now I can sort of stride a little more confidently into Season 2 and Season 3.

“I was re‑watching Episodes 1 and 2 over the weekend for sound mix, and I got chills.  Like, I got chills watching something that I was a part of. And in these uncertain times for me to be able to provide some escape for people and have them feel safe, and feel warmly cuddled up by whatever creature I concocted for that particular episode, really makes me happy.  And I really feel that if George was here, man, he would probably slap me on the back really hard, and do his best Brando impersonation and just love everything that we’re trying to do.”

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