“Tales of suspense and horror!!!”
Image: Shudder

Horror anthology film Creepshow has become a horror anthology TV show, thanks to Shudder and The Walking Dead’s Greg Nicotero. Details on the six-episode series have been trickling in since the series was announced, but now there’s a trailer—and at Friday’s Comic-Con panel, we got details galore from showrunner Nicotero and the other big names he brought with him to the stage.

Joining Nicotero was author Joe Hill (NOS4A2), who scripted one of the episodes and happens to be the son of the guy (maybe you’ve heard of him) who wrote the screenplay for George A. Romero’s 1982 film. Horror-trivia fans will recall that Hill actually acted onscreen in the 1982 version (as did his father), though at the time he was still going by “Joe King.”

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Cast members in attendance included the iconic Adrienne Barbeau (star of the original Creepshow, as well as The Fog and Escape From New York), as well as Giancarlo Esposito (Better Call Saul, Breaking Bad), Tricia Helfer (Lucifer, Battlestar Galactica), and DJ Qualls (The Man in the High Castle, Supernatural, Z Nation).

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Nicotero kicked things off by reminiscing about how visiting the set of Stephen King and Romero’s 1982 film, which is where he met horror make-up master Tom Savini for the first time, was a life-changing event for him. He’d planned on being a doctor, he said, but Creepshow helped set him on a new path. “I was going to be taking out real intestines and livers...now I just do the fake shit. It’s much easier, and there’s much less trauma involved,” he laughed.

Hill was also nostalgic, remembering how King arranged for him to be cast as Billy (the kid who uses a voodoo doll to kill his onscreen father as revenge for taking away his horror comics) in the original film, but he was so busy with his own work on the movie that the young Hill ended up with Savini as a babysitter of sorts. “I spent a whole week in his trailer, watching him artistically disfigure movie stars and invent these fabulous creatures. He was my first rock star, and by the time I left the Creepshow set, I felt I had discovered what I wanted to do—which was I also wanted to kill people in interesting and memorable ways, and create memorable monsters, which is sort of what I wound up doing.” (Fittingly, Savini directs the episode that Hill wrote for the new series.)

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For her part, Barbeau remembers thinking “I’m not doing this!” when she read the 1982 script, which she thought was too violent and scary—not realizing at first that the movie was going to be made in the style and tone of a horror comic book. (She also didn’t know who George Romero was.) But her husband at the time, director John Carpenter, and actor Tom Atkins (a close friend who’d appeared with her in Carpenter’s The Fog, and had just been cast in Creepshow himself) encouraged her to reconsider, and the rest is horror history.

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As for the new Creepshow series, Nicotero made mention of the breakneck pace of the production: “We had three and a half days per segment. We had a very small crew; our production meetings for the next episode would be during lunch, because we didn’t have enough people to watch the set and go to meetings at the same time.” The phrase “labor of love” comes to mind, especially considering what he said later in the panel.

“I needed all these amazingly talented people because they’re part of the essence of what Creepshow is. I like the idea that you can watch the first Creepshow [movie], and the comic book closes at the end...and then you could watch episode one of our show, and it’s like opening a new comic book. It’s not a reboot, it’s not a retelling. George [Romero] and Steve [King] were so ahead of their time, because of their love for EC Comics. The shit that I love, it’s the same stuff that we all love. It’s Jaws, and Dawn of the Dead, and Salem’s Lot. The stuff that I could watch or read a hundred times. And now we have Creepshow—it comes, for me, from a place of love. I love this stuff so much. We’re all here for the same reason, and I’m grateful for the fans that support this.”

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The panel closed out with an exclusive clip from the show, a scene showing a kid running through a field in the dead of night to get away from what appears to be his furious older brother—an alarming situation that takes a turn for the much, much worse when a menacing scarecrow (is there any other kind?) decides to abandon its perch and join in the chase.

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Nicotero also told the crowd to look out for Easter eggs from the 1982 movie sprinkled throughout the show, including references tucked into that sinister dollhouse shown in the trailer and an ashtray prop that will pop up in every episode. Keep your eyes peeled, when you’re not hiding them in terror, when Creepshow’s first episode comes to Shudder on September 26.


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