A Creepshow Holiday Special: Shapeshifters Anonymous


After keeping itself in the game thanks to some judicial use of animation and an outside-the-box attitude, Creepshow managed to dole out a special while the world ground to a halt thanks to COVID restrictions. However, not to be outdone, Greg Nicotero and the gang figured that the loyal viewers of this scrappy show deserved a christmas present by the time the yule-time season had rolled around and thus the Creep opened up another issue of the titular comic book and the one off Holiday Special was born.
However, this time the show makers had managed to not only get the show back to a live action format, but also gave us a super-sized format that gave us a single, 45 minute segment that director Nicotero hoped would bring the house down.
But did this act of streaming based gift giving provide a present we all wanted or did we wish the makers had kept the receipt?


Awkward sad sack, Robert Weston is terrified that he might be the local serial killer that’s been stalking the neighbourhood after finding such items as flesh and zippers in his stool and after seeking medical help, his final hope is to find sanctuary with a bizarre self help group named Shapeshifters Anonymous. After gaining entrance to their club, Robert is introduced to a disparate group who’s only common ground is that they are all therianthropes with the ability to change their form into a variety of creatures. Highly-sexed school teacher Irena is a were-cheetah, while sexist douchebag Andy morphs into a pig and ex-marine Scott becomes a turtle. In addition to these members, there’s also the very human furry, Phyllis, who identifies as a hippopotamus and the mysterious Ryan, a hulking dude who turns up every week but just sits there saying nothing.
After discovering that he is a werewolf and has only been preying on bad people, Richard slowly tries gets his head around this bizarre new paradigm shift, but just as he starts to get used to his rare condition, the group drops an even more absurd bit of news. It seems that the greatest threat to therianthropes is Santa Clause who in actuality is a long forgotten biblical figure, tasked by God to wipe out all forms of shapeshifters, but who eventually fell in with Satan who gifted him an imposing set of “Satan’s claws” which he uses to fillet his prey.
Before you know it, the shifter’s meeting place has been surrounded by Santa’s helpers who try and storm the building, but as Robert, Irena and the gang try to hold them off with automatic fire, it seems that their only salvation lies with Bob, Santa’s mortal enemy and one of the forgotten disciples who was given the gift to transform into a wolf in order to eat sinners.
For Robert, Christmas is going to be slightly different this year…


Creepshow has never been a show that’s dedicated to hardcore, intellectual scares and instead has happily been a staunch provider of goofy tales that plays as a more playful cousin to the more spiteful nature of Tales From The Crypt. However, even by the show’s standards, Shapeshifters Anonymous may be one of the more broader episodes that has leapt from the minds that lay behind the scenes and dedicates the entire episode to a single tale that wastes no time to being as silly as it can be. Taking random inspiration from a number of places, writer and director, Greg Nicotero seems to be using the show as a showcase to film every whacked out concept he’s ever cooked up during his long and impressive slinging rubber and squirting blood as one of Hollywood’s most prolific makeup artists and the idea of a bunch of shapeshifting screwups banding together to fight a murderous Santa Clause feels like the kind of deranged, Saturday morning animated series you would likely see during the 90’s.
The episode is bursting with energy and invention to spare, but it’s also about as focused as a squirrel on coke as it excitedly hurls its varied ideas at the wall as hard as it can in the hope that it sticks – however, while the episode is infused with an anything goes attitude, not a whole lot of it is actually funny.
I mean, it’s funny peculiar for sure, but despite the presence of Adam Pally (who has something of a history playing clueless schlubs) and a vampish Anna (Pitch Perfect) Camp, matters are rarely funny ha-ha as it dials up the weird up to 11.


Not only do we have were-pigs and a man who transforms into a turtle to contend with, but the presence of a Kris Kringle who is two parts Santa to one part Shredder from the Ninja Turtles takes the segment well into the realms of the ridiculous as the episode even slings in some repurposed biblical lore just in case things aren’t bonkers enough. While this wouldn’t be a massive issue if the episode had the usual fifteen minutes to play with (or even thirty), the forty four minute run time means the adventure and the humour is about as tight as a deflated bouncy castle. It’s colourful and it certainly isn’t dull, but Nicotero seems to be so surprised he’s actually getting to put this jumbled mess on the screen, he neglects to stop it seeming like the rambling pitch of a stoner at three in the morning.
Still, even though the story is hardly airtight, it proves to be a perfect excuse for Nicotero to get his FX cronies to bust out a nifty array of rubber suits, prosthetics and puppets that finally hit the crazed, Power Rangers tone the script was swinging for. I wouldn’t think that watching a full sized were-turtle getting swiped aside by an armoured, demonic Father Christmas with cuisinart hands would sure a multitude of scripting sins, but here we are, I guess. On top of that, but a final act revelation that sees Bob the werewolf show up to save the day may provide a full-sized lycanthope puppet that looks noticably unsteady on its legs, but it’s a fucking cool design no matter how wobbly it is.


Of course, anyone who tunes in to Creepshow expecting tight, mature, elevated horror has obviously rocked up to the wrong address as the shoe positively revels in its low budgeted irreverence – it’s just a shame the episode’s extended run time and mountain of exposition allows the bugged out concept to overstay its welcome even when it’s mowing down countless mall Santas with small-arms fire.
With its playful attitude and its thrown together charms, Creepshow has always been a nice, silly alternative to similar shows that take themselves a bit too seriously, but this Holiday Special ultimately will have yule rolling your eyes.


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