Creepshow – Season 2, Episode 2: Dead And Breakfast/Pesticide


After a barnstorming premiere episode for Creepshow’s second season, it seemed that the show had finally found its groove with a couple of raucous, yet confident stories that aggressively fulfilled the brief laid out for this reinvention of George Romero’s massively endearing classic. However, the second episode pumps the brakes somewhat, offering up two of the most rambling, messy segments to date with Axelle Carolyn’s Dead And Breakfast and Greg Nicotero’s Pesticide both being rather puzzling affairs that both take strange detours when a more traditional, Creepshow-y ending would have had a greater chance of bringing the house down. Alternatively, the twin stories of a failing murder house and an unscrupulous exterminator both still have a lot going for them and even boast better casts than the average episode, which makes their flawed aspects all the more frustrating.


Dead And Breakfast: Struggling siblings Pam and Sam Spinster has been trying for years to make a living off of the grim, maze-like house left to them by their grandma who, allegedly, was the first ever female serial killer who slaughtered anyone who broke the rules of her boarding house. However, the downside is no one either knows about the Spinster House Murders, or cares meaning Pam and Sam’s business is dangerously in the red.
Enter Morgue, a killer-obsessed influencer who live streams from actual murder locations to her sizable fanbase and the desperate brother and sister hope that their clientele will increase if she visits.
However, things don’t quite go to plan, thanks to Morgue becoming sceptical that Old Lady Spinster was even a murderer at all which is something that triggers Pam’s overprotective feelings about her grandma’s legacy.

Pesticide: Shit-heel exterminator Harlan King claims that he is the best there is at what he does, but despite being admittedly gifted at killing all types of pests while coming up with snappy banter (“Vermin die squirmin'” is a particular gem), his crass and vulgar ways earn him few friends.
After offending his previous client, stern therapist Brenda Lanchester, Harlan is subsequently hired by verbose entrepreneur Mr. Murdoch to clear out an empty warehouse in order for a lengthy renovation to begin – however, the posts Murdoch wants eliminated aren’t of the bug or rodent variety, but instead are the numerous vagrants that loiter in the area.
Harlan initially refuses, but the lure of a major payday causes him to accidently poison every single one of them thanks to a vial of poison dropped in their communal soup pot. However, the stress of suddenly becoming a mass murderer rolls over Harlan like a Mac truck of guilt and soon his plagued by visions of oversized versions of the creatures he’s made a living of killing.


Sometimes, you just want a short horror story to go where you want it to go and the problems with both Dead And Breakfast and Pesticide is they both decide to go in directions that end up being oddly unsatisfying. Take the first story for example, which sees a brother and sister desperately try to use an influencer to try and get their business back on track. It’s a good, solid premise that has ample chance to tease both modern day vloggers and quirky, throwback couples that positively oozes American gothic from their very pores; but director Carolyn (various episodes of horror television) in laden with a script that takes this concept and goes nowhere with it. Matters aren’t helped by the fact that you mostly know exactly where part of this is all going to end up – with Pam snapping after Morgue debunks everything and taking up her grandmother’s axe to make the Spinster place a murder house. However, once this finally happens, the episode starts to try and change things up, having the quiet Sam suddenly strangle his deranged sister in order to try and change the attraction into a murder/suicide house and even skips ahead a year to show the fruits of his betrayal. But what the episode is missing is a good strong ending to make everything worthwhile but unfortunately Dead And Breakfast’s punchline is bizarrely weak for a show that usually enjoys a big (if usually illogical) finish and Sam’s final comeuppance by finally finding out that his grandmother actually was a killer after getting accidentally sealed up in her skeleton-filled body pit simply doesn’t have the pizzazz you were hoping. I was expected something far more spectacular, like the ghosts of Pam and old lady Spinster appearing and teaming up to axe the traitorous Sam into cubes – but alas, the episode ends up being far too low-key for that.


Pesticide, on the other hand, is precisely the opposite, with a bugshit crazy segment that’s willing to throw everything but the kitchen sink at you whether it makes sense or not. Featuring another rock solid set up that showcases a greedy exterminator being lured into killing humans by a devious businessman is such a perfect horror anthology concept it actually hurts, but director Greg Nicotero (usually one of Creepshow’s more dependable helmers) overeggs the pudding until the episode actually forgets what it’s point was supposed to be. It starts off ok, with Harlan being portrayed as a gloriously off-putting piece of work, but after he mistakenly actually goes through with killing the homeless, the story seems genuinely unsure of whether it’s a psychological thriller as Harlan hallucinates about being attacked by a giant-sized assortment of rats, spiders and mosquitoes, or something much more supernatural as our “hero” is inexplicably shrunk to the size of a bug and then fatally swatted with a magazine and Murdoch is strongly hinted to actually be the freakin’ devil!
While Dead And Breakfast could have benefited from a bit more crazy, Pesticide simply just has too much and with it’s influx of random ideas colliding messily into one another, you wish the two segments could have traded some of each other’s DNA. If the episode is Harlan being tormented by guilt, why actually have him shrink? Why does Murdoch suddenly turn up at Lanchester’s office now dressed as an exterminator after she mistakenly squishes the tiny asshole? Personally, I would have taken a page out of the book of grimy, 1980’s slasher Maniac and had a guilt ridden Harlen torn apart by giant vermin in his apartment in the climax much like the mannequins do to Joe Spinell – but on the other hand, the giant bugs and rats (the spider in particular) are still pretty cool to see.


What’s most frustrating is that Creepshow’s best cast to date is squandered on two, fun, but ultimately muddled efforts with such names as Ali (Final Destination) Larter, C. Thomas (The Hitcher) Howell, Ashley (Hellraiser) Laurence, Keith (The Thing) David and Josh (The Walking Dead) McDermitt all doing fine work.
Still fun but fatally flawed, the second episode of season 2 bugs you until you have an axe to grind…

Dead And Breakfast: 🌟🌟🌟
Pesticide: 🌟🌟🌟

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