A Creepshow Animated Special: Survivor Type/Twittering From The Circus Of The Dead


While I’m not one hundred persent sure, the arrival of Creepshow’s animated special seemed to be a direct response to the fact that a second season was temporarily cock-blocked thanks to the world-halting efforts of the Coronavirus. After all, you don’t need to scrape together a whole cast and crew a get them to follow painstaking superlative measures when all your actors and sets are animated, right?
And so it came to be that during one of the most significant health crisis in modern history, Greg Nicotero and his Creepshow cronies found an ingenious solution when it came to supplying Shudder with all-important streaming content. Animation – baby. To Creepshow’s credit, it had resorted to doing an partially animated segment before in season one’s Time’s Is Tough In Musky Holler, but as that was one of my least liked episodes, my expectations were lower than the Creep’s coffin – could the dusty one, even with aid from stories by Stephen King and Joe Hill, manage to pull a win out of the crypt?


Survivor Type: Seasoned shit-heel and all-round unscrupulous surgeon, Richard Pinzetti has led a life of ill repute that’s seen him develop both strong ties to the New York criminal underworld and a healthy drug habit – but it looks like his iron will to succeed no matter the odds has met its match.
You see, during a cruise in which he was on his way to drop off some heroine, the ship promptly sank leaving him on a comically tiny island in the middle of the ocean with only a scant number of supplies and the corpse of a young woman for company. While Richard employs the various mantras he’s used to get ahead in the world, he tries to stay alive by eating raw seagulls and trying to tend to a mangled ankle as the days (and his sanity) slowly drift away. But soon his gull catching prowess fades as hunger grows – exactly how far will Richard go to keep that gnawing in his belly at bay?

Twittering From The Circus Of The Dead: Social media obsessed brat, Blake, is trying to endure a road trip with her family and takes to Twitter to keep her mind off the brain-melting blandness of her dad, the constant nagging of her mother and the sheer randomness of her younger brother. As she live Tweets the entire experience as it happens, the family eventually chances upon the Circus Of The Dead, an apparent horror-themed circus that even goes as far to clad its sickly looking ticket vendors in hazmat suits. Buying tickets the family settle into the packed big top and Blake – as usual – Tweets everything she’s seeing, but the acts are not just horror themed; they involve swarms of zombies made up as clowns fight lions or being shot from cannons. However, once Blake’s brother volunteers for the hatchet-throwing act, the tweeting teen finally catches on that this whole thing may not actually be an act…


To be brutally honest, when I first heard that Creepshow had released an all-animated episode, it smacked a little more desperation that inspiration, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by Greg Nicotero’s gutsy attempt to keep the series going. If we’re putting all our cards on the table, the animation isn’t of the classic type, or even some snazzy, slick CGI shit, but instead is still images digitally manipulated to get basic movement and camera movements that play as a back drop to the intense monologues. In lesser hands, this would undoubtedly feel cheap, but thanks to some smart casting and some clean, crisp images, both segments play far better than they have any right to.
Setting the scene by helpfulling staging a bookend where the ever talented Creep indulges in a spot of animation (cartoons, fishing, video games – what can’t he do?), we go full force into an adaption of Stephen King’s Survivor Type. While essentially a one-man monologue that sees Keifer Sutherland’s grade-A douchebag slowly lose his mind (plus other things) as the constant stream of raw gull meat, loneliness and self mutilation are spaced our by his increasingly bitter life story. Anyone who is familiar with Sutherland’s work knows that the distinctive rattle of his larynx is perfect for this kind of thing and his cynical voice over goes perfectly with the gruesome visuals. At over twenty minutes long, it arguably over stays its welcome a little and it frequently drops the odd plot hole (despite plainly stating he has no wood for a fire, he magically has some later on), but on the whole, Survivor Type is finger licking good.


Also proving to be surprisingly effective is the adaptation of Joe Hill’s Twittering From The Circus Of The Dead that sees Joey King’s chatty teen walk us through a zombified circus like some fucked up tween version of From Dusk Till Dawn. While you feel the adaptation would probably be more effective in live action and with a vastly more generous budget, it still manages to be entertaining despite the obvious limitations of the style being used. Like Survivor Type, Twittering From The Circus Of The Dead puts something of an unsavoury character in the lead (anobnoxious teen is hardly on par with a drug dealing doctor, but you get my drift) and it’s use of social media may seem as subtle as a jackhammer root canal, but Hill’s original short story supposed to be a jokey, cynical parody of a life led blindly online. As we experience Blake and her Simpson-lite family come face to face with the face painted living dead, we eventually see her gradual realisation turn to terror as she desperately try to tweet out her location in an attempt to get help and only ends up inadvertently coming across as a form of viral marketing.
While Joey King is no Kiefer Sutherland, she also give a impressive, vocal-only performance that makes the vapid Blake seem far more three dimensional than the animated character model would have you believe.


Considering that Creepshow’s figurehead is a moldering, cackling corpse, its incredibly fitting that even in the face of a global pandemic, the show simply refused to die and even managed to turn it’s partially animated, comic book gimmick into a way to try something experimental and new. While I would never want to see the entire series go this way, A Creepshow Animated Special is an atypical one-off that shows that there’s still life yet in the show’s dusty carcass.

Survivor Type: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Twittering From The Circus Of The Dead: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

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