During it’s two season run (plus a couple of specials during all that nasty lockdown business), Creepshow has established itself as the horror anthology equivalent of renting a fright flick during the glory days of VHS. You’d find yourself wandering up and down the horror section, staring at all the gaudily designed, 80’s covers with no assurances whatsoever if the title you eventually picked would yield unfettered awesomeness or eighty minutes of the purest shite. Creepshow is kind of similar insofar that the quality of each segment has differed wildly, leaving the whole experience to be completely random crapshoot regardless of cast, crew or subject matter.
It’s this uneven hit rate that’s bizarrely made the show grow on me so much as it feels less like a coherent show and more of a scrappy mess that everyone involved treats like it’s a fun diversion from their real jobs and are just here to fuck about and have a bit of a laugh as they get covered in blood or wrestle with a monstrous puppet. Imagine my delight, then, when the Creep came back for round 3…
Mums: Farm boy, Jack, hasn’t had the happiest of families. Even though his former earth-child mother, Bloom, has managed to quit the booze and pills, his father, Hank, is a brutish secessionist who takes exception when Bloom tries to take her son out of this violent environment. Carted off by Hank and his main stooge, Connor, to be murdered, Jack is fed a string of lies by Hank’s lover, Beth, who also acts as his trusted babysitter and while Bloom is buried somewhere on the farm to silently molder, her son is told she’s actually gone to rehab.
In an effort to make the garden nice for when his mother returns (bad luck, kid), Jack plants a packet of Bloom’s seed in the garden while not knowing that’s exactly where she’s buried and after accidently adding a secret ingredient (his blood), bizarre looking flowers grown in their place that have a skull-like pattern in their pistils. One night, Jack discovers what exactly what happened to his mother when its revealed that the seeds have have resurrected her into some sort of plant monster that allows the young boy to plant the seeds of revenge.
Queen Bee: Trinice, Deborah and Carlos are a trio of super-fans who bicker about which one of them loves the world famous pop star, Regina the most, however, when Deborah reveals that their idol is nine months pregnant and is due to give birth in a nearby hospital, the three decide to sneak in and be the first to sneak a peek at the baby. Trinice and Deborah are dizzy at the thought of this little adventure while Carlos wants to make a little dough from the experience by selling any pictures, but once they make it into the hospital, things get decidedly strange.
Not only do they accidently kill a security guard after they are spotted, but they notice that the hospital staff are all under some sort of hypnotic trance that makes their eyes glow a slickly green. It seems that Regina isn’t what see seems and that her influence stems from something a lot more sinister than just a good singing voice…
Another season of Creepshow, another episode that’s fairly uneven, but anyone who is actually taking the show seriously at this point has seriously missed the joke. I’m not going to belabour the point by spelling out that part of the show’s charm is the goofy campness in which it approaches its deranged stories, but the random grab bag of tone between this episode’s duo of stories is more amusing than usual. First up is Rusty Cundieff’s Mums, a story that’s somewhat Moore and serious than Creepshow’s usual output – and certainly more serious than the director’s previous entry, the very comedic Sibling Rivalry from season 2. Dealing in abusive fathers, murdered mothers and vengeful sons, the story (by author Joe Hill) hardly breaks the mold as it covers the kind of fertile ground that a staggering amount of anthology shows have all ready gone over. However, what makes Mums work is that it’s impressively solid, featuring grounded performances (pun intended) and a coherent plot and yet still ends with the kind of insane ending these types of tales excel in. Ethan Embry, Malone Thomas and Lowery Brown are nicely loathsome villains who certainly earn their plant-based demise at the hands (vines) of the flesh-eating plant zombie, Bloom becomes. Visually arresting (the skull-faced flowers, the viney corpse and her final form of a red-haired, face-crunching fly trap are all fairly startling) and neatly told, Mums is hardly original, but the episode blooms nonetheless.
Faring less well is Greg Nicotero’s Queen Bee which, despite being far more original and impressively fucked up, noticeably lacks a certain something despite being crammed with funky effects and a truly batshit twist. I’m not entirely sure if the deliberately unappealing characters just rubbed me up the wrong way or it’s just because the story doesn’t really flow particularly well, but I was disappointed I didn’t take to this segment more due to the truckload of cool shit Nicotero unloads on us here. Not only do the surgeons under the thrall of the pregnant pop star come completely with bright, lime-green glowing eyes (utterly illogical – but there you go), but the true form if Regina is truly a sight to behold. Eschewing those makeup-free selfies celebrities often post, the singers actual persona is that of a seven-foot alien wasp with a human face that spends its ample screen time writhing in the agony of childbirth while being propped upside down. It’s legitimately impressive, as are the multitudes of grubs she spits out, but it’s sort of has their taken out of it by a muddled story. I’m assuming the accidental death of an innocent security guard at the hands of the obsessed teens is supposed to damn them in the eyes of the viewer and thus justifying their fate, but it just feels unnecessary when the fact that they’re self obsessed brats should be enough for the mandible-in-cheek, comic-bookish tone of the piece.
As wonky and misshapen as the rickety Creep himself, season 3 kicks off in typically uneven fashion and yet this has somehow genuinely become part of the appeal – I mean where else can you get redneck-eating flower ghoul and an extraterrestrial wasp getting an epidural within the same forty minutes?
Queen Bee: 🌟🌟🌟