Creepshow – Season 2, Episode 1: Model Kid/Public Television Of The Dead

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The Creep, the boney, comic obsessed, wraith-like mascot from horror anthology show, Creepshow is a tough cat to keep down – not content to just return from decades of limbo to triumphantly be the skeletal face of the Shudder-funded comeback, he even ingeniously managed to get two specials out onto streaming while the world languished during the COVID pandemic. With those accomplishments hidden away in his death shroud, it was no real suprise to see the show renewed for a belated second season, but while the first six episodes were an inconsistent blast, it would be nice if the show tightened up its quality control a little.
Well, if the two offerings that kick off the new season are anything to go by, we’ve got our wish as Greg Nicotero does double duty and directs a pair of episodes steeped in watery-eyed nostalgia and ridiculously fun homages.

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Model Kid – It’s 1972, and 12 year old horror nerd Joe Aurora has something of a tough life. The constany bullying and the fact that his loving mother is battling cancer is more than enough for any child, but his meek Aunt Barb and his thuggish Uncle Kevin are now coming to stay until they can get back on their feet. However, after Joe’s mother succumbs to her illness, Barb and Kevin become Joe’s legal guardians and the stress is further heightened when the swaggering Uncle learns that his temporary layoff is becoming permanent.
As his boozing and temper causes him to lead with his fists once too often, Joe finally seeks revenge on the bully by responding to an ad he sees in a Creepshow comic about buying a model kit that carries the same properties as a voodoo doll. Armed with this and a little help from his new friends, the Gillman and the Mummy, Joe’s finally going to become the monster kid he’s always wanted to be.

Public Television Of The Dead – At the Pittsburg public television station, WQPS, the machiavellian plotting of the arrogant Mrs. Bookberry means her kids show is moving to a cherished timeslot at the expense of The Love Of Painting With Norm Roberts. Claudia, the head of network programming is beyond gutted, but her hands are tied and Norm accepts his firing with a typically sedate good humour – however, in the studio next door, Ted Raimi is a guest on The Appraisers Road Trip and has brought a familiar looking book onto the show to be valued. As host Goodman Tapert reads the incantations found within, he unleashes demonic spirits into the studio that possess Raimi, Goodman and Bookberry that seek to plunge the world into chaos if Norm, Claudia and director George don’t do something to stop it first.

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It seems that Greg Nicotero has decided to use the first episode of the season to relive both his youth and his formative years as both entries are positively dripping with nostalgia. The first of the two, Model Kid, sees its youthful protagonist live an existence full of 70’s horror comics, model kits and monster movies and you can’t help but assume that the director had a very similar childhood with monster masks and Frankenstein posters adorning every single surface in his room. The story itself is admittedly thinner than an unwrapped mummy with the bullied child taking a terrible revenge on his tormentors being somewhat of a running theme of Creepshow’s since 1982, but the whole nostalgic nature of the piece (not to mention some cool Gillman, Mummy and Frankenstein redesigns) carries it through with style. Brock Duncan is refreshingly un-whiny as young Joe and Kevin Dillon (armed with a brutal handlebar moustache) keeps things just on the right side of silly in his exaggerated, swaggering, Uncle role – but the main thing that propels the episode is the obvious, deep yearning for a far simpler time. Proof of this is the truly insane number of easter eggs on show as Joe’s bedroom not only has model kits for both the Creep and the killer scarecrow from season 1 (nice cross-pollenization there), but even Joe’s surname – Aurora – is a reference to a company that made model kits back in the day. Sure, the episode may feel a little unfocused (why would buying a voodoo model kit also cause Gillman and the Mummy to appear and pull Kevin apart like taffy?) and the ending final punchline doesn’t make all that much sense (Joe magically turns into a vampire because…?), but the tone of the segment lifts through some dodgy narrative patches.

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However, if Model Kid is a brazen attempt to plunder Greg Nicotero’s childhood, Public Television Of The Dead is a shameless nod to his early career days as he toiled on special effects crews for movies such as Day Of The Dead, Creepshow 2 and, most noticably Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead II. Essentially an unashamed, unofficial, Evil Dead fan film, thevepiside is nothing more than a goofy, gory, slapstick laden camp-fest that feels less like a Creepshow bit and more like a bonus episode of Ash Vs Evil Dead.
That’s the good news – the better news is that as an unabashed Evil Dead nut, I absolutely adored this segment with all its in jokes, homages and shameless, outright plagiarism that even has the balls to include an actual Necronomicon and an appearance of Ted fucking Raimi! Bar Bruce Campbell suddenly kicking in a door, waving his chainsaw arm around while calling for a trademark lawyer, it’s all here. The crash zooms, the ingenious bloodletting, it’s all there – Christ, someone even mutters “Groovy” at one point, but while Nicotero is on his full-blown Deadite rip, he also flings much love in the direction of public television too, with The Love Of Painting With Norm Roberts being a spot on nod to hypnotically passive TV artist Bob Ross. In fact, the sight of him becoming a Deadite slayer maybe one of the greatest Evil Dead images since Ash Vs. Evil Dead featured its bubbling hero getting his head stuck in a corpses arsehole and the entire segment is far and away the most out and out funny thing Creepshow has ever attempted.

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Sure, a couple of spoilsports may complain that the nostalgia factor is overwhelming or be disgruntled that two 80’s horror franchises have so randomly collided – but this season premier boasts noticably improved confidence in the format Creepshow compared to the first season (check out those comic book style scare shots in Model Kid!) and the sheer balls required to pump out a couple of fun, silly, throwback adventures with not a single regret in sight bodes well as the Creep puts more yet more meat on those barren bones.

Model Kid – 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Public Television Of The Dead – 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

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