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Review: “A Creepshow Animated Special” Premieres on Shudder in Time for HALLOWEEN

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Review: "A Creepshow Animated Special" Premieres on Shudder in Time for HALLOWEEN

It’s showtime!

“A Creepshow Animated Special”, directed by Greg Nictoero (“Creepshow”, “The Walking Dead”), is a horror-animated special based on two short stories: one written by Stephen King and the other by his son Joe Hill. It’s a celebration of horror!

It’s a one-hour adaptation of Stephen King’s short story “Survivor Type” and Joe Hill’s “Twittering from the Circus of the Dead.” Kiefer Sutherland, my favorite vampire in The Lost Boys, stars in “Survivor Type,” and Joey King (The Conjuringplays a teenage girl obsessed with social media in “Twittering from the Circus of the Dead.”

Stephen King’s “Survivor Type” is a story from Skeleton Crew, first published in the horror anthology Terrors. Out of curiosity, I checked to see if Terrors was still around, but I couldn’t find a copy of it anywhere. What I did find was a picture of it on Stephen King’s website: a wonderfully creepy ’80s paperback with a skeleton hand rising from a river of blood with the epic tagline: “PICK ONE—AND DIE!”

A Creepshow Animated Special Still Image

But most surprisingly of all—it was published by Playboy Press. Playboy had a fiction publishing press? And they published horror?

I need to own Terrors now. I collect old books even though I really don’t like to collect stuff. I don’t like owning anything, it gets annoying to have a lot of stuff and to see stuff around. You have to care for stuff, and arrange stuff, and move stuff, periodically from one place to the next, and I won’t have it. However, I do like to buy a few choice books here and there, but they have to be special, and Terrors is special.

So I was excited to watch Creepshow’s animated adaptation of “Survivor Type,” I read it as a kid, and it absolutely horrified me. King feels the same way because, in an interview with Monsterland Magazine, he said: “As far as short stories are concerned, I like the grisly ones the best. However, the story ‘Survivor Type’ goes a little bit too far, even for me.”

“Survivor Type” is about a surgeon stranded on an island, without food, who will do anything to survive—as in anything. The adaptation is scary, just as frightening as the short story, but it’s horrifying in a different way. I know what happens at the end of “Survivor Type,” yet the animated version is still creepy. I think it’s because it’s a cartoon; cartoons are generally (not always) fun and silly and cute, so I find horror animation unusually horrifying.

Wait, not more…I find them equally horrifying. “Survivor Type” scared me as a short story because I imagined what the doctor might look like at the end, which weirded me out. But in Creepshow, you can see what the doctor looks like, which creeps me out too, but it’s an entirely different type of creepy feeling. Perhaps terror is processed in different ways in the brain.

“As far as short stories are concerned, I like the grisly ones the best.” —Stephen King.

Horror anime, manga, cartoons, graphic novels, and comic books are particularly creepy to me, and I think it’s because of the format. Seeing the gore and the violence in 2D or a cartoon version of reality (instead of live-action)—is somehow worse. It looks like a simulation, a simulated version of reality, and that scares me more than anything. I swear Twilight Zone: The Movie scared the shit out of me when the boy sent his older sister to ‘cartoon land,’ and she’s chased by a monster bunny—because it was a cartoon, where anything can happen. 

Joe Hill’s short story “Twittering from the Circus of the Dead” is about a teenage girl who visits a circus with her family and live-tweets the event. But something happens that she didn’t expect, something terrible. If Greg Nictoero is involved, you could expect a certain kind of monster; writer Melanie Dale adapted it, and it’s a delightfully creepy sequence. It works so well because we can see the animated horror. You can observe why the old comic books “Scary Tales” and “Tales from the Crypt” were such a huge success— and they were pictures, not full out cartoons. No, they were art, not just pictures.

“Twittering from the Circus of the Dead” is a dark satire of social media; it shows how annoying infinite social media can be, so much so that you almost root for the chaos. The circus of the dead is a warning to consider how much social media we consume. In some ways, media is social propaganda. Every time Trump tweets, it feels as if he’s a circus of the dead, tweeting to his death-cult followers.

“A Creepshow Animated Special” premieres on Shudder on Oct 29th, in time for the holiday weekend. Shudder is also hosting an all-day horror festival called “ShudderFest,” on Halloween, Oct 31st. Anyone can watch it; all you have to do is make an account and sign on; you don’t need a Shudder subscription—it’s free. Happy Halloween!

A Creepshow Animated Special Poster

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